God led Tina Othon through trauma and guilt to a reunion with church and family. She describes her childhood as a normal Catholic upbringing. Her mother took the two kids to Sunday school. Her dad was strict and sometimes forceful. When Tina was 15, her parents divorced; after that she rarely saw her father, and her mom often went “honky-tonking.” Tina started experimenting with drugs at 16, and by 18, she had turned from a fun-loving tomboy into an addict.
She became a mother at age 17; the father was a drug dealer. Later she had two more kids with an abusive boyfriend. Tina feels guilty that she missed so much with her kids and that she failed to help her mother, who succumbed to cancer in 2006. “I feel awful that my mom, while she was on chemo, had to pick up my kids because they were neglected by their father.”
In 2013, she and a new boyfriend left Arizona for New Jersey to get a clean, drug-free start. As surprising as this sounds, a homeless man’s gift of tobacco, given to Tina through her boyfriend, led her back to Christ. Because tobacco was like currency on the streets, Tina wanted to repay the stranger. She could not find him, so she decided to donate to the first church she saw open. She found the Philipsburg Seventh-day Adventist Church, stayed for a service, and was hooked. God also helped her quit smoking. “Jesus is the ultimate high,” Tina said.
Tina was baptized in 2015 at the Glendale church in Arizona. Church friends like Greg and Susan Robbins became family, standing beside Tina at her granddaughters’ dedications. She recently attended an “All About Jesus” seminar with Pastor Lee Venden, and when Pastor Gary Venden encouraged members to lead Bible studies, her friend Greg prompted Tina to volunteer. Tina is also involved in women’s ministry.
In 2018, one of Tina’s grandchildren was born to a daughter who succumbed to drug use. With Jesus’ help, Tina was able to take care of her grandchild. “There were no issues. Jesus washed my past clean so I could have my girls.” She adopted this granddaughter and is working toward adopting a second. She has six granddaughters.
She knows God can also reach her daughter. “I don’t want my daughter to have the same regrets I had. Her daughters are my daughters now, but she can be with them again. Christ can bring families back together.”
By Tennille Feldbush