Restored Life for God’s Glory and Purpose
Hello, my name is Elizabeth (Beth) Russell, and I have a restored life in Christ Jesus. Currently, I am living in the state of Texas in the United States of America. I was adopted as an infant into a Christian home. I am the middle child of three girls. My older sister is mentally handicapped; my younger sister and I are adopted. I grew up in church and around church people.
Actually, my earliest memory was when I got saved at four years old. I followed my Auntie Share-bear in the salvation prayer while helping her fix my baby cousin Seth a bottle in her kitchen. Jesus was normal to me. Going to church was normal for me. Having Christian friends was normal for me. Life was good. I remember as a little girl having long talks with Jesus. He was always right there with me. Suddenly, things started to take an unexpected turn. My Mom started sleeping long hours until she could no longer stand to get out of bed. I took on the responsibility of caring for my older disabled sister. My life as a child was now gone.
One afternoon when I was in the 4th grade, I came home to an empty house and a note from my mother. We later found out that she attempted suicide twice, but by the grace of God, was unsuccessful. She immediately went to a mental health hospital, where she received care for her depression and simultaneously found Jesus Christ.
Once released, my mother was trying so hard to figure out her Christian walk that she, at times, went religiously overboard. For me, that brought confusion. The “new God” I was being introduced to had way too many rules that I already knew I couldn’t keep. The harder my parents pushed religion, the harder I rebelled.
By the time I was 13, I had become so angry at God. I felt my mother was to blame for abandoning our family and rejecting her daughters. I was ultimately out of control. My parents decided I needed help. They didn’t know how to give. So, they sent me to Hallsville, Texas, from Chicago, where I stayed 22 months in a Christian boarding school. At one point, I can remember God’s peace and power resting on me, but just as fast as I surrendered, the enemy came with deception. I allowed myself to be led astray.
By the time I returned home at 15, I had gotten drunk for the first time and lost my virginity that same night to an adult man. Instead of seeking approval from God, I turned to men. This decision opened the door to demonic influence that would take many years for me to realize and close. I had a canyon sized God hole in my heart that I desperately wanted to fill.
Running from God
Instead of turning to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, I began to manufacture substitute saviors, both veiling my heart and scaling my eyes. At 16, I overdosed on heroin and was pronounced dead. The medic said that after four minutes of lifelessness, I just sat up. I received a breath from God. Following my overdose by two weeks was the death of my dearly beloved grandfather. That was it. I was utterly done with God.
I didn’t trust Him, and I didn’t believe He could help me. Even if He could, I didn’t think He would, not after all I’d done. I was arrested three months later due to charges my parents pressed against me for stealing their car. It was a last desperate attempt to save their daughter from the destructive road I was running down. I was released twice on house arrest. Both times, I violated the house arrest conditions.
The second time, I ran away before they could place me back behind bars. I stole a vehicle belonging to my friend’s father. While my friend slept hungover and unaware in the passenger seat, I decided for both of us that we were going to Miami. Once in Miami, my friend called his Dad scared and desperate to go home, while I stayed to party.
I was there less than three days before I was betrayed, kidnapped, and thrown in the trunk of a pimp’s Cadillac. He transported me to an underground brothel. Since I was a minor, that meant more money for him. For the next month plus, I was frequently visited by the most perverted men you can imagine; doing the things you pray will never happen to your kids. I began to plead with God to not let me die in these conditions. I begged for His help.
Shortly afterward, I found a way of escape, which I immediately took and ran for my life. Once I arrived at safety, I realized I was 16, alone, and on the streets of Miami. I couldn’t go back. I had warrants, plus the overwhelming guilt and shame from what had been done to me. So, I stood ashamed, broken, and humiliated. I grabbed the first fig leaves I knew, a syringe full of heroin.
Over the next two years, I was beaten, raped, thrown out of cars, almost killed by a demon-possessed man, robbed and stole, was homeless, arrested, re-arrested, and arrested some more. Every time I was behind bars, I begged God out of worldly grief to relinquish me back to hell. Every time, no matter the charge, I was miraculously freed and allowed to run rampant with demons. I ran further and further from everything and everyone I knew to be true. After a near-death experience, God sent a messenger in response to my prayer, begging for intervention. He said, “this is your second chance to go home.” He then proceeded to hand me $800.
Once off the bus in Chicago, the addict in me overrode my good intentions, and I spent the remainder of that money attempting to get high, but nothing worked. The Holy Spirit encouraged me to throw my syringes away. As I acted in obedience, I was immediately set free from the addiction of heroin. God displayed His power in my circumstances yet again and showed me a glimpse of what He could do with a fully surrendered and restored life.
However, I chose the instant gratification of idols masquerading as men, money, my career, marriage, keeping up with the Jones’, and children. I walked right out of God’s perfect will into His permissive will where I was met head-on by hardship. Over the next ten years of my life, I was on an emotional and spiritual roller-coaster. The only thing consistent was chaos. I was married and divorced three times, lost two children to miscarriage and one to divorce, lost a home to a fire, went back to school and started a career, started and lost a business, and failed at every relationship. Everything I attempted to do in my strength eventually failed.
One evening while sifting through the ashes of my failed business, God spoke loud and clear to me. He said, “Elizabeth, I’m taking you to Texas. Everything I have for you is in Texas.” I knew God must have had the wrong number because I hated Texas (too hot and too slow)! Plus, I was in love with my live-in boyfriend, Craig. I called my mother, who advised me to continue seeking the Lord through prayer, but I dismissed the prophetic word until I opened up my email to a job offer in Dallas, Texas. Wait, it gets better. My boyfriend returned home from the gym and broke up with me.
Move to Texas
A few weeks later, I was in Texas. I would love to say that I immediately got on board with the call of God on my life, but that’s not the case. Purposefully, I chose to rent a home in Flower Mound so that I could attend and serve at the Village Church, but I only visited twice. I had a great job, a lovely house, two cars, and was still empty. My God canyon still existed and screamed to be filled.
Due to my discontent and not wanting to be alone with myself, I began again with substitute saviors and empty promises. I pushed and manipulated my situation and family until they fit my circumstances. I cared about me, myself, and I, unmoved at the effects or damage my actions had on others. After suffering a legitimate injury on the job and being prescribed pain medication, I chose to abuse them to numb my emotional pain. Within a short time, I lost everything and eventually found myself strung-out and homeless on the streets of South Dallas.
Over the next seven years, I was in and out of jail, lost all my teeth, was almost killed many times, and was statistically beyond help. I had fallen too far and was not considered worth the risk. But God!!!!! During one of my incarcerations, my Dad sent me the book Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler. For the first time in my life, the ugly dark places of my heart became exposed. I had to acknowledge my complete depravity before God. This acknowledgment was the beginning of my redemptive walk into repentance and restored life. During the same jail stent, I met an angel who told me about Restored Hope Ministries.
Restored Life and Hope
Although it was two years and many miracles later, I eventually landed at Restored Hope Ministries by the sovereign direction given by God. He saw me. My life of continual redemption stories was all linked together by His thread of grace weaving me back to Himself and restored life. My idolatry never threatened him. It sure didn’t stop his reckless love or his relentless pursuit of my heart. Long after I had chosen multiple substitute saviors, He remained fiercely faithful. Perhaps, I might acknowledge and remember his love long enough for me to come to my senses and return home to rest in the shadow of His wing. He didn’t force my hand, but with full force, he left the 99 to come after me.
I’m so grateful that he did, and that I have a restored life. Restored Hope Ministries has helped me grow and walk closer to the Lord than I ever knew was possible. Over the last year, I’ve been writing a book to share the thread of God’s grace throughout my story. WReck-less Love is the name, and I can’t wait until it’s finally published.
Ministry Training at Christian Leaders Institute
I have been given the vision to start Adamant Freedom House. It’s a place where broken women go from pain to a restored life passion for God. They are equipped with life-giving tools to push them into God’s purpose for their lives.
The Holy Spirit led me directly to Christian Leaders Institute. I believe being ordained is a necessary next step in this process. I am currently at Restored Hope Ministries being discipled and trained to launch another location once God opens that door. The best team in the world is mentoring me. I am eternally grateful to have been given the honor to walk beside them, pushing back the darkness. It is a joy to watch heaven come to earth here as lives get radically changed by the power of His love. Glory to God!
Learn about ordination at Christian Leaders Alliance.