Cheri Peters: Celebrating Life in Recovery
We are super excited to announce that our first event is just around the corner. Reclaim 2013 proudly presents Cheri Peters: Celebrating Life in Recovery… coming to the Bakersfield on March 22-23.
The story below was published in 3ABN World and gives a sneak peak into the life of Cheri Peters.
Perhaps the first thing you might notice about Cheri Peters is that she smiles and laughs a lot. But the next thing you’re sure to notice, if you talk to her for more than a minute or two, is that she’ll be talking about recovery, and she’ll be talking about God! But what gives her the ability to talk to addicts, alcoholics, abuse victims, and damaged people of all ages? Why is she able to almost instantly gain their trust? We sat down with Cheri to learn more about her, and the story she tells us is heartbreaking.
In fact, the details are far too tragic to put in print. She tells us that as she was raised by two teenaged drug-addicted parents, she knew she was not wanted. Her mother constantly told her that she had wanted to leave her at the hospital, and had tried to self-abort six different times during her pregnancy. “My mom was only 14 years old when she had me,” she says, “and I was her second child.
She was so depressed, and my father beat her and drank. My household was absolutely horrendous.”
Cheri tells of the most horrific forms of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse she had to endure throughout her childhood, and how at age 13 she was pregnant, on drugs, and living on the streets of Los Angeles, California. “I remember the first time I took drugs,” she recalls. “I thought to myself, I can live like this, and I don’t care if anyone likes me. Drugs were empowering—and I stayed so high that most of the time I had no idea what was happening to me.” Homeless, addicted, and broken, Cheri did whatever she had to in order to survive.
As her drug addiction worsened, she became involved in major drug deals. Then at 23 she found herself staring down the barrel of a gun, wishing the man would pull the trigger and end her miserable life. What surprised her, she says, is she felt a strange, peaceful feeling. “It was the only time in my whole life that I felt so at peace! I thought, In a few minutes I will be dead. My first suicide attempt was when I was eight, but I hadn’t succeeded. But now I had a gun in my face, and he wasn’t going to miss. I totally relaxed, and he went crazy. He screamed at me, ‘Are you nuts? I’m gonna kill you!’ And I thought, Just pull the trigger! But to my amazement, he left! I was stunned, and thought, I don’t wanna be here.
“I was 23 years old, and I was burned out. I had teeth missing. I was strung out on heroin, and I had to find someone to stop me from killing myself, so I went back to my mom’s house—which was so crazy!”
The experience did not go well, but as she got up to leave, her mother handed her an envelope. Later, in the drug house, Cheri devised a plan to end it all, and as she walked into her room she saw the envelope lying on her bed. Fearing it was one more put-down from her mother, she opened it slowly.
“At first I thought it was my story,” Cheri says. But soon she realized it was her mother’s story instead! In fact, it so closely paralleled her own, she could hardly believe it. Her mother had suffered all the same abuse at the same age Cheri had. “And at the top of the third page it said, ‘The only way I survived any of this was that I took out all my anger and hate on my second child— and I ruined her life.’
And I heard God say, ‘Cheri, this was not about you at all. I love you, and I’ll help you change your life.’ At that moment I saw myself as I really was. I weighed 100 pounds, I was strung out, I had teeth missing, and nobody loved me, not even my parents. But God said, ‘I have always loved you, and if you want Me to help you, I will help you.’ “I don’t know why I believed it, or got the courage to stand up and try to find somebody to let me do recovery at their house. I think the only reason I moved from that spot on the bed was because I thought, God doesn’t belong in this drug house! And I felt real protective of whatever experience I had just had.”
Cheri detoxed at the home of a Christian lady who lived six and a half hours away. “By the time I got there I was shaky, and irritable,” Cheri recalls, “and she answered the door and said, ‘You know what? I love you, and I’m glad you came.’ “By then my skin was crawling, and I thought I was in hell, but she started teaching me about recovery. I was angry at her for flippantly saying, ‘I love you,’ so I told her every single horror story that had ever happened to me just to see if she would judge me. Later she told me that she had to constantly excuse herself and go into the other room where she knelt and asked God to give her love for this unlovely creature. She would say, ‘God, do not let me hurt this child,’ and then she would come out and ask me again to tell her what happened next.
I talked to her for seven days straight, and I know God put me in the right place because I started trusting her. “She started teaching me about the Bible, and about Mary Magdalene. I wept like a baby at the thought that Jesus would stand in front of a woman so guilty and say, ‘I have known you from your mother’s womb, and I know everything that’s happened to you. Don’t hurt yourself anymore.’ And I thought, How incredible is that? “She told me about the demoniac, and I laughed, because as she was telling me how ugly and filled with demons he was, beating up people, cutting on himself with stones, I thought, I dated that guy! And as she’s talking, in my mind I was thinking of every single abuser I had met, and I hoped that God would break all of his bones in a slow, torturous way! And even though the guy opens his mouth and cusses Him out, Jesus hears his heart cry saying, I don’t want to be like this! And Jesus pulls the demons out and restored him to his right mind. I just cried, ‘I want to be restored to my right mind.’
“From that point on, my healing began. God started moving me towards a place where I can tell someone that’s full of demons, that has been trashed since their very conception, that there’s a God that’s bigger than all that. That He can change all that, and that He can forgive and heal all that. “As I prayed about giving my testimony for the first time, I felt God’s Spirit telling me, ‘Cheri, when you tell your story to someone else, it vindicates God. It’s all about God being big enough and being involved enough for lives to be changed.’
If we don’t tell our story, the world doesn’t believe that God can heal molested kids, suicidal people, depressed people, addicted people, or whatever category you wanna pick. “I deal with people all the time now that are struggling with addictions and abuse of every sort. Somebody’s got to say out loud that there is an answer to all of this stuff—as heavy and as twisted as it is, God has the ability to untwist things.
“I go into prisons and people ask, ‘Aren’t you afraid?’ I’ll tell you what, I feel like those people eare my family! I’m not afraid at all, and I can’t wait to tell them that God is bigger than all that, and that He will change their desires— which is huge! People have to hear it! They have to hear that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a gift to strengthen and encourage us in recovery.” Today Cheri Peters works with people all over the world through True Step Ministries, which she founded. She’s authored two bestselling books, Miracle From the Streets and God Is Crazy About You.
When she’s not traveling, speaking, or working with at-risk teens, she enjoys her home in Idaho with her husband Brad, a teacher and musician. She also loves to spend time with her beautiful 24 year-old daughter Jaci.
Cheri developed and began hosting a program on 3ABN called Celebrating Life in Recovery. Now in its eighth season, Celebrating Life in Recovery has just recorded it’s 100th episode and is one of the most watched programs on the network. Cheri is
It’s little wonder Cheri smiles so freely. In the words of Jesus, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.
3ABN World December 2007.