By Cathy Evangelista, Special to ASSIST News Service
ROCHESTER, NY (ANS – March 17, 2017) — My story begins in “Surf City,” Huntington Beach, Southern California, where I was living at the time.
On that fateful morning of June 28, 1992, my daughter and I were soundly sleeping, that was until at 4:57 AM, when apartment building where I was living, started to shake.
It grew stronger and stronger and for that minute, my daughter, Tiffany, and myself, had by now jumped out of our beds, and stood shaking between the bedroom door jam on the second floor, and we stood there until it had eventually stopped.
All of that short time, I was praying to myself: “Lord, please stop it. Please stop it.” I was so scared that my daughter and I were going to die!
As I said before, it was only a minute, but those sixty seconds seemed like a lifetime! After the earthquake had stopped, my daughter, who was only about 7-years-old at the time, ran out the door, down the steps to the ground floor, and began knocking urgently on a neighbors door. I followed her out.
Tiffany seemed much calmer than I, and I was still shaking, but I managed to recover enough to ask my friend if we could stay at her home for a few hours, and thankfully she said “yes,” and ushered us through the door. We stayed for a short time, but it took me about a week to get over the initial shock that I was in.
I had never started reading the Bible until that year. I knew of God, but I did not have a personal relationship with Him. So, for some reason, one Sunday evening of late summer that year late summer, I drove to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa with my daughter. There were no cars in the parking lot and then I saw a little sign that said the church was holding its evening service at the Pacific Amphitheater, a huge rock venue just a few miles away, so we went there.
There were plenty of cars there and I found a parking space and I told my daughter, “Let’s go into the theater, and we can check it out.” It was a wonderful event, with a praise band leading the worship, and followed by a powerful message from Pastor Chuck Smith.
To make a long story short, I decided to start attending CCCM, and the first time I went there, I experienced so much LOVE! It was so powerful to me that I immediately I felt this was where the Lord want me to go on a regular basis.
You see, I knew about God, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him until the day I began attending the church. I was raised Catholic back in Ohio, and then I moved by myself to Southern California, where I lived in East LA with my biological mother, who never actually raised me. (I was raised by a stepmom and my biological father back in Ohio). I stayed for a time in East LA and worked as a certified nursing aid in a mentally locked up geriatric nursing home facility.
It was while working there that I met and made new “friends”. When I was growing up into my teenage years, and after high school, I was what you would call a “goody two shoes”. I never got into trouble and, in my free time, I would just read books like the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, and others I had in my own room.
But, back to East LA. As I mentioned, these new so-called friends” introduce me to marijuana and other street drugs. They also acquainted me with shots of whiskey and other hard liquor. I was never like that in Ohio, so this was a whole new world to me.
So in my new-found area of Los Angeles, I did smoke the marijuana and was then introduced to PCP (Phencyclidine), also known as Angel Dust and Sernyl. I tried it, and nothing happened the first time around. However, the second time, I took two “hits”, and I have confess that I have never felt so ill in all my life. It felt like my brain had exploded and I finally somehow fell asleep after taking the “hits”.
But, if that wasn’t bad enough, I discovered when I awoke from the daze I was in, that they had tricked me and told me that I had taken PCP, and then one of these so-called male friends, had apparently tried to rape me, but even in that state, I was able to beat him off! I learned later that I was yelling “help,” nobody came to assist me.
Life was, by now, spinning out of control and, not longer afterwards, I also was date-raped and by that incident I became pregnant. When an aunt of mine found out, she immediately took me to a nearby women’s hospital, and there I had a saline partial birth abortion. When the nurse said that I finished with delivering the baby, she asked me if I wanted to know if it was a boy or girl. I said “no.”
I began to realize that was not getting anywhere where I was living, and seeing how depressed I had become, my sister took me to Orange County, California, a much nicer area to live in. She is the oldest from my father side and I was not raised with her. She happened to stay with my Mom in California after my parents divorced back when I was three. She knew that I was in trouble, so she moved me right out of that place and I never looked back!
As I think back, I knew I that God was looking after me, even when I didn’t realize it. There is so much more to share, but I will leave it as it is right now. My life verse now is Joshua 1:9 that says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV). That is a promise and I hold on to it.
Photo captions: 1) The Huntington Beach pier during one of the storms and earthquakes that hit the area. 2) Cathy Evangelista with her daughter Tiffany in 1986. 3) Pastor Chuck Smith speaking. 3) Cathy pictured a couple of Christmas ago with her daughter Tiffany, and son Dominic. 4) An older picture of Cathy.
About the writer: Cathy Evangelista now resides in upstate New York with her husband Michael and son Dominic. She is retired from customer service after 30 years. She attended Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM) back in the 90’s and was married there in 1995. She moved with her husband to upstate New York in 2006. She is an avid reader of the Word and loves to share the Gospel. She goes to a Calvary Chapel-affiliated church near where she lives and has recently joined the ASSIST News Service as an Editorial Assistant. Cathy can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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