Homeless and addicted to drugs, Heather Hill was surprised by God’s answer to her prayer for help when it landed her in jail for 18 months. But her prison sentence started her personal journey of transformation as she developed a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prior to her arrest, Heather sporadically attended Mosaic UMC because her parents did. Carolyn Moore, Senior Pastor of Mosaic, brought her a Bible and for the first time she had a passion to read it. The words began to make sense, and she read the Bible from cover-to-cover many times.
“My spirit was infused with hope, and I knew that being in prison was a direct answer from God, so I felt a responsibility to respond in a certain way. If I hoped to live a different life, I had to do my part.”
After serving her sentence and participating in a drug rehabilitation program, Heather was released in 2013. In rehab and recovery, she had learned the importance of changing friends, locations and activities, but she worried about how to stay clean when faced with cravings.
The church welcomed and supported her, inviting her not only to attend services, but also to participate in small groups and the church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry. Eventually, she helped lead Celebrate Recovery and served on the church’s lay mobilization institute team with Asbury Seminary to stimulate church growth.
During that time, she had a relapse. She prayed for God to heal her addiction, but felt God telling her that she had to tell Carolyn. Instead of rejection, the church embraced Heather, supporting her in tangible ways, but also through prayer. That same night, her small group gathered around her, laying hands on her while Carolyn anointed her with prayer and oil. During the prayer, Heather felt a heat go through her body. She wondered, “Did God heal me?”
“Their response was a perfect physical picture of the grace of God, something that I could tangibly look at,” she said. “When I woke up the next morning, the desire was gone!” she said. “And the mornings were the hardest. Now I’m five years clean!”
Currently, Heather is the Director of Community Life at Mosaic, organizing the small group ministry, training the leaders and occasionally preaching. Because of God’s grace, she is able to share the hope she found with others, helping them learn to live out the Christian life everyday. Often, she uses her own story as an icebreaker and as a gateway to mentor others.
“I came out of prison with a lot of knowledge, but I didn’t have any context for the Christian life,” Heather said. “How do you live it, and what does it look like to walk with Jesus every day? I found the answers to those questions in my small group, and that’s why I’m passionate about it.”
Heather is a current student at Asbury Seminary, pursuing an M.A. in Ministry online degree. She enjoys the practical aspects of studying online because it allows her to maintain her full-time job at Mosaic.
“I’m actually surprised by the interactive part of the classes,” she said. “Even though it’s an online class, and I’m not face-to-face with the people I’m interacting with, I still feel like I’m building relationships with them, so when I come to campus, I’ll already know them.”
She expects to graduate in 2021.
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