STORIES OF HOPE
Since 1993 I have the privilege and the experience of helping spread the Good News about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. During this time I have traveled to several different countries on five continents around the world working in conjunction with well known and credible ministries such as Andre Kole Productions, Campus Crusade For Christ, Magi Ministries, and Adult & Teen Challenge.
I have witnessed amazing life transformations and miracles in peoples lives. Individuals turning away from life controlling issues and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, including my own life.
It is my honor to share with you life transformations from many people, most of whom I have known for years and some I have had the privilege of speaking into their lives.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
View Stephanie's Story On YouTube
My name is Stephanie Koontz, and I am a grateful child of God. At the age of fourteen, I believed the lie that told me I was never going to be good enough. I became bulimic, only to soon mask and hide my emotions with hard alcohol. Food, and the release that came with purging, was my drug of choice. Alcohol helped numb the pain of loneliness.
Before I turned 21, I was a college drop out, I was physically dependent on alcohol, and I found myself in ICU after flatlining from a seizure due to a fatally low level of potassium due to malnourishment. My near death experience didn’t phase me. I continued full speed in my addiction like a tornado, destroying anything and everyone in my path. Bulimia for me was not just three meals a day, it was an obsession. Some days I binged and purged thirty times, only stopping when I ran out of food. The men I found comfort in only wanted one thing, but my lack of emotions made it easy to dismiss the pain these men caused.
In 2007, I became pregnant, and I was able to stop drinking, but bulimia controlled my every move. Not one day of my pregnancy could I stop my addiction. Karlee was born healthy, but in 2009, she developed ulcerative colitis. In 2011, due to medical complications, I held my little girl in my arms as she took her last breath on earth. Everything good inside me died right along with her. Spiraling downhill, and several DUIIs later, seizures from alcohol withdrawals became a weekly occurrence. I drank a fifth a day just to get out of bed. I drank several hard drinks to function thru my shift as a waitress, and I ended each day in party mode, chugging and shotgunning beers until 2 am. Seizures usually happened between 2am and 7am, so I found myself buying and drinking bottles of rubbing alcohol to avoid the hassle of another seizure.
I quit chewing my food in hopes that my esophagus would just erupt, and I could finally end the hell that I created for myself. But the hell just continued until I found myself admitted to a mental institution with a diagnosis of Wernicke Korsikoff, aka, wet brain. Basically my brain was floating in alcohol because my body could no longer process it, and I was stuck in a permanent state of psychosis. God intervened even before I knew Him. He had a different plan, and a few weeks later, I walked out of that permanent diagnosis without any trace of brain damage. Unfortunately, it still didn’t phase me. I threw up my first meal, and went right back to old habits.
I found myself pregnant again, and still unable to stop throwing up. Satan whispered louder, “you’re gonna kill this baby, too.” The day after Aiden was born, I relapsed on alcohol and within six months I had lost everything, including my son to the state. I had no choice but to accept the invite to Teen Challenge. I knew I could stay sober from alcohol, but there was no way I could stop my fifteen year addiction to throwing up.
Two days into the program, I gave up. I fell to my knees in front of a cross, begging a God that I didn’t know, to save a wretch like me. In that moment, He knew my heart and delivered me from both addictions. “God cast my rebellious acts as far as the east is from the west,” Psalms 103:12. Today, seven years free, I know who that God is. He is my healer, my redeemer, my strength in times of trouble, and He is also my Father who loves me unconditionally. He has above and beyond replaced what satan wanted to destroy. I am a wife, a mother of three boys, a servant, a leader, an author, and I am His beloved child. I am forgiven. I am made new. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. “Faith doesn’t make things easy, it makes them possible,” Luke 1:37
Absolute Ministries / Spanaway, WA.
Six years ago I was arrested for what felt like the millionth time, I was stuck in a ten year IV heroin and meth addiction. I went from being a mother and a daughter to loosing my kids and ripping off everyone that loved me.
It didn’t take me long until I was homeless, prostituting and sleeping on a wood pallet under a bridge inTacoma Washington. I lived there for most of 8 years, I was hopeless and excepted that I was gonna die out there with a needle in my arm because I was caught in the cycle of jail and rehab.
Until January 9th, 2015 I was once again arrested but this time was the last time I would ever have to be put in hand cuffs and God was about to do something amazing in my life....I went to jail for two weeks and out of desperation to get out of jail I agreed to go to treatment. (Little did I know God would use that moment of desperation to change my whole life)
I ended up at Graham Women’s Adult & Teen Challenge Campus and my life was never the same Jesus showed me who He was and who I was because of him. God mended my relationships with my family and even the relationships I thought couldn’t be reconciled.
After a year at Teen Challenge, I stayed another year and did an Internship and after that I was hired as the Outreach Coordinator for the Graham Adult & Teen Challenge.
I met my unbelievably amazing husband who also went through the program of Adult and Teen challenge as well and at the time he was working for them too. Eventually God called us to help launch a women’s transitional house for Absolute Ministries which is housing and mentoring for Individuals who complete inpatient and a very much needed next step after rehab!
My mind is blown away everyday that I wake up in a bed and not under a over pass or the bridge or not dope sick with a needle in my arm...God has truly blessed my husband and I with a wonderful life where we get the privilege to walk along side individuals as they navigate through recovery and discover who they are in Christ.
Christian Life Ranch / New River, AZ.
Many people who battle addiction realize later that their problem didn’t stem from just craving the substances themselves; it involved a wounded or missing relationship in their life.
Christian Life Ranch, an Adult & Teen Challenge men’s training center in New River, Arizona, is committed to helping men identify and deal with those hurts and, most importantly, find a relationship with Christ.
Rick W. Casto says he never fit in at church, although his Christian mom, Pat, attended. Casto sought the approval of his non-Christian dad, but never felt he could please him. At age 13, Casto began using drugs, and for a time he felt the acceptance he so wanted. He later became involved in a sexual relationship that resulted in a daughter, Ashley, but when he couldn’t stay clean, his girlfriend left him to join the military. He lost custody of Ashley and spent time in jail.
The breaking point came when his depressed father took his own life on Casto’s mother’s birthday. Angry with his dad for hurting his mom, Casto — despite being high on drugs — determined to clean up the blood scene from his father’s suicide at the family home to spare his mother. Paul N. Singh, who pastored Paradise Hills Church, where Pat attended, refused to let Casto go alone.
“It was a long, quiet ride,” recalls Casto. “All he said was, ‘I love you.’” Those words came back to Casto “every time I started to sin,” until finally he had a dream of his father asking, How is what I did any different than what you’re doing?
Casto realized he needed to find help. In 1999, Singh introduced him to Teen Challenge in the north Phoenix area, where Casto submitted his life to Christ after a chapel service vision of Jesus on the Cross. He graduated from the Christian Life Ranch program in 2000 and began working there. Now Casto, 52, serves as ranch director. He is married to Marie, and they have a daughter, Danielle, 13, in addition to a restored relationship with Ashley.
Auto Warehousing CO. / Tacoma, WA.
I am the middle of three children, growing up I was riddled with fear and anxiety...although I had parents who loved their kids dearly I also had parents that were struggling with their own demons....alcohol & Cocaine. That fear and anxiety haunted me into my early teens so I began looking for an escape.
At the age of 12-13 I was smoking cigarettes, marijuana & drinking alcohol. I stayed on this path of disruption for the next 22 years quitting one drug only to pick up something different in its place. By the end of all my years of drug use I was homeless, living in a tent off of the spring water corridor in Portland, or living as a full blown IV Meth addict.
One day I finally had enough and felt God telling me that I needed help....His help, so I headed to my parents house when after some food and much needed sleep I agreed to go to a program that my dad had herd about from a friend at church called Teen Challenge. I entered completely broken and I remember thinking "if there is a God he better show up because there’s no way I’d be able to do this on my own."
After a few months, once my head cleared, I was baptized and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life and from that day on I never had the desire to use drugs of any kind again! I graduated Adult & Teen Challenge then stayed for another year as an intern where I met a young lady named Tiffany, didn’t think much of it at the time, but God was setting everything up for her to be my wife.
After my internship, Adult & Teen Challenge hired me to do some work at their distribution center. I served on staff at Adult & Teen Challenge for a year and during that time I began dating Tiffany and then eventually married her. God is good right!
Not long after we were married my wife felt the nudge of God to apply at Absolute Ministries where they were looking for a Director for a new woman’s transitional house. Tiffany and I interviewed together and they decided that they wanted us to be the first couple to open up the very first women's transitional home for Absolute Ministries.. We are both so grateful for God’s hand in directing us to Adult & Teen Challenge where people could pour into us and God could make us who He intended us to be.
Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not for I am with you, Be not dismayed For I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".