John & Amanda Story

John’s Story
Hello everybody. I pray that what you are about to read gives hope to you for someone in your life that feels hopeless. My name is John Padula. I’m 36 years old, and I was born and raised in North Idaho. I lived a somewhat normal life; camping, hunting, fishing, sports, etc. I did very well in school education wise, but I was always in trouble for fighting or other issues with my anger. At age 12, my parents divorced and I continued to get into trouble. I was finally kicked out of school and asked not to come back to the Kellogg school district.
My mom moved us over to Coeur d’ Alene. I immediately got mixed in with the wrong crowd, I started smoking cigarettes, marijuana, drinking, and by the age of 13, using Meth. I got kicked out of Lakeland School district in 7th grade for selling speed, so I moved to Las Vegas with my dad. I was only in school in Las Vegas for 3 days before dropping out and continuing to use drugs and getting involved in more criminal activity.
After about a year, I moved back to Idaho. I was about 15 years old and very deep into Meth addiction. I had no morals and no conscience and continued a life of using and dealing drugs, sexual immorality, and violence. My house got raided when I was about 19 by the drug task force and I ended up in jail with a felony. I was sent on a rider, which I did not complete, and then eventually put on probation. I only made it about 1 year before I was arrested again and sent to prison. That was in 1999 and I didn’t get released until October of 2005. I swore I would never use drugs again, but my heart was still dark and sinful. I started drinking immediately and within a year I was back on Meth and right back into my old lifestyle. I accepted the fact that I would die a drug addict so I ran as fast and as hard as I could. I was completely hopeless and looking for love anywhere I could get it. This continued for about 3 years.
In 2008, I was seeing a girl and she ended up in county jail, and then into the Good Samaritan program. I went to the Altar church a few times while she was in the program. Several of the members of the congregation ministered to me. I met pastor Tim, who encouraged me to go into the men’s facility when it opened. I went in for 1 day and I left, then a couple days, and I left. The third time I went in, December 5th of 2008, the facilitator on duty confronted me with the Gospel. As he prayed for me, the Holy Spirit melted my heart and my life radically changed. I left Good Samaritan after 13 days a completely different person. God delivered me from 17 years of Meth addiction, 20 years of a pornography addiction, and a life of hopelessness. I had a real rocky start, but God continued to chasten me and purge me of my old identity. My heart broke for the lost in our community and I fell in love with evangelism. I continued to serve the Lord for about 2 years. Then God brought someone into my life that would change everything.
Amanda’s Story
My name is Amanda Padula. I’m 25 years old, was born in Palm Springs, California, but moved to North Idaho at a young age and was raised here. I was raised in a very “normal” home. My parents have been together for 27 years and I have a baby brother. My parents raised us with morals and I was taught work ethic at a very young age. My parents worked hard for everything they have, and gave my brother and I the world. I was an average student in school, played lots of sports, and never had any “issues”.
When I was 12, I started secretly drinking at friend’s houses on the weekends. At 13 I smoked marijuana for the first time, and liked it. I continued the “party on the weekends” lifestyle. At 14 I met a boy and lost my virginity, started smoking weed and drinking a lot. I was partying every chance I got. I was still in high school, had started my first job as a dish washer at Chef in the Forest. By 16 I was a waitress there. Then I was introduced to pain pills. I started popping and snorting a lot of pills. I was so afraid my parents would find out so I excelled at school.
I was 17 my senior year and was doing the best I ever had, then one day I came home from school, and my house was on fire. I remember running inside and black heavy smoke was billowing out everywhere, I’ll never forget how hot the doorknob was when I turned it. From the outside it looked normal, but the inside was a disaster. I had a cat and dog trapped inside the house. I ran around the home franticly searching for my cat. I remember calling my dad and just freaking out on the phone saying, “daddy it’s so bad, it’s so bad”. I continued searching for my cat, I couldn’t find him anywhere. So I went to try and help my dog. I dragged him outside, and while I was doing so, right behind him, under my parents bed, was my cat. I grabbed Tigerlilly and he was as stiff as a board. I remember just screaming as loud as I could, NO!
After that moment everything was a blur and from that moment something took over me. I was angry, hurt, and blamed myself. I distanced myself from my family. I stayed with my boyfriend and missed a lot of school after that, 43 days in a semester. I had to petition for my credits and almost didn’t graduate on time. Amazingly, I did graduate. I got a morning job at Starbucks and still waitressed. I ended up pregnant at 18 and had an abortion. I was using a lot of pills and drinking and thought that it wasn’t an option to be a mom. My life started to spiral out of control.
I moved out of my parent’s house and started smoking oxycontin. I was hooked instantly. It took away all my feelings and made me numb. I was a high functioning drug addict. I was up to about 12 oxy 80mg pills a day. Then my boyfriend and I ended up getting arrested. I was 18 and had never been in trouble with the law and I was scared. My parents bailed me out and I was on a mission to get my boyfriend out as well. I found out about Pastor Tim’s program, the boyfriend got in and I tried changing myself. When he graduated his judge gave him a no contact order with me. We ended up hanging out, started using again. We were driving one night and I got pulled over for running a red light. I knew we weren’t supposed to be together so I lied to the cop and said I was my friend. I signed two tickets and the cop let us go. We continued using, and shortly after his house was raided, he went back to jail. I couldn’t stop using, I was so deep in my addiction. Still working two jobs, I was promoted to shift supervisor at Starbucks. I worked hard and played harder. Then the restaurant I worked at burnt down and I was down to the one job. I started dealing drugs and eventually got arrested at work for signing those tickets. My parents came to the rescue again and bailed me out. I lost both jobs, and resorted to dealing pills. Then I was summoned to court months later for two counts of felony forgery. I went to court that morning and was sentenced to Drug Court. I then asked if I could go into the Good Samaritan. I had no reason to, I was already sentenced to Drug Court and probation, but I knew I needed something else, Jesus! I went into the program and gained a lot of knowledge of the Word of God. I met John at church and was instantly drawn to him. I loved this new life Christ gave me and I was happy. I completed Drug Court with a perfect program. My felonies were expunged. Life was good.
John and I got married and continued on the life the Lord had for us. We had our first daughter and lived in a little apartment. My husband always had a heart for the lost and eventually started bringing people home to stay with us. This was not what I envisioned our life to be- taking in drug addicts and introducing them to Jesus. I became bitter and felt like I wasn’t important. I relapsed. It was apparent I had never been saved. I loved the life God had to give me, but I was never willing to sacrifice my life for Him. I was at worship on a Monday night at the Altar. I was standing there mad at the world and annoyed with the whole “God thing”. I remember yelling at God in my head, “if you are real, show me.” Pastor Tim stopped worship and said, “I feel like there is someone out there that has the knowledge of Christ in their mind, but has yet to experience the conversion in the heart, if that’s you come up to the altar and let’s pray.” I don’t remember walking up there, I was just there. I fell on my face and wept. Pastor came and laid hands on me, prayed in the Spirit, and God spoke to me for the first time. I broke! I surrendered everything. I was born again.
And Back to Today...
This is John again. That is my wife’s testimony. Since we’ve been married, God has used us to start a ministry that we are the directors of, Set Apart Discipleship. We started the men’s house 3 years ago. We take men off of the street and out of the jails, while they wait to go into Good Samaritan, and start ministering to them. It’s an inpatient facility that is all about Jesus. When the men graduate Good Samaritan, some of them come back to Set Apart as mentors and do a 9 month discipleship program. There are currently 4 men waiting to go into Good Sam, and 8 mentors who have already graduated Good Sam living there. We also started a women’s discipleship house 7 months ago and there are 4 women who live with us. And 3 months ago we started a single mothers discipleship house that has 5 women and 11 children. Our Lord Jesus continues to work miracles and we are so thankful to have passed from death to life! My phone number is 208-704-1492. We would love to hear from anyone out there with any questions or comments. Lord bless you all, and be in Christ!