Until the age of 7, I was a normal child. However, from that age on I wanted to be different. At the age of 9, I dyed my hair blonde (this was not common at that time, I was one of the few children that did this). It all started very early. At the age of 11, I was going out to parties and nightclubs, and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I started getting piercings and my look conveyed rebellion. I was surrounded by drugs, alcohol and promiscuity, but I was afraid to get involved. The problems at home increased, so I started doing everything that I previously thought was disgusting.

My dream was to be a model, and this actually happened. As I grew up surrounded by this confusion, things just got worse. I got more piercings and dyed my hair different colors. I took controversial photos and posted them on the Internet. I became well known, many people copied me, my style and the things I did. My career took off; I was doing fashion shows, photo shoots, international jobs, etc. I was recognized and even had fans. I was surrounded by people and often smiled, but the void remained inside.

After suffering bullying for 3 years, it made me hate people, I was no longer the same; I no longer cared about anything. At 15, I began hanging out in downtown São Paulo, attending gay events at Ibirapuera, Augusta and Paulista nightclubs, where I was always accompanied by those “friends”. Friends, who ripped out the pages of the Bible to make marijuana cigarettes, drank all night long, snorted cocaine and cursed and blasphemed against God. Among all that commotion, something bothered me. Often, I would think: “What am I doing here? Why am I doing this?”, because I believed in God and knew that I shouldn’t be there, but the more I tried, the more I got involved.

I ran away from home, started smoking and drinking every weekend, went out on Friday and returned on Sunday or Monday. I got involved in relationships with women; I thought that I was born that way because I had a sexual experience with a childhood friend. I cursed, spoke in slang, heard voices and saw shadows that would choke me at night. Once, I even called the police because I thought someone had broken into my house.

Though I was popular, my love life was in ruins. None of my relationships worked out. I wasn’t happy with anyone. Everything went wrong, I fought with my parents and was on the brink of death several times. After living through all this, I couldn’t take the suffering and grief any longer.

I was sick. I had a heart murmur, which doctors said I would not make it past the age of 15. I had gastritis, which hadn’t allowed me to eat properly in over a month due to the pain. I no longer slept because there was a black shadow that choked me every night, so I would lie awake in fear and sleep during the day.

My life had no purpose. A voice would say that there was no solution. My family’s finances were in ruins, no one believed in me, I saw no way out, I was desperate! Until my mother, without telling me, transferred me to a new school, because my old school almost sent me to Child Services. She enrolled me in the neighborhood school, which was close to home and in front of the Universal Church. At first, I refused to go, but since there were no other options, I went. From the moment I set foot in the school, I knew that I would be rejected. But I was surprised when some of my peers came to talk to me. We became friends and they invited me to the VYG. They told me how they used to be and I became interested, but was afraid of what my friends would think. How could I go to Church looking like I did? Everyone would judge me! I declined their invitations for about a month, until the 17th of April 2011.

As soon as I stepped foot in the Church, I saw a difference. Everyone hugged me, took care of me. I didn’t really understand what they were saying, but I wanted to be around them, I wanted to change my life! So I continued attending meetings and seeing a change day after day… As God transformed my interior, my exterior changed as well. The piercings, the different colored hair, the addiction to cigarettes, the drinking, the bisexuality… none of it made sense any longer, so I renounced it ALL! And God honored me, I joined the VYG, I started sharing my experiences with other youth and helping them, just like I was once helped. A desire to win souls began growing inside, to help those who are suffering and lead them to the peace and happiness I had received.

I had the desire to be an assistant and, after enduring many battles, God anointed me to do His work. This love for souls grows more each day. Today, I am part of the VYG because someone believed in me and I believe in other youths. Spiritually, I am completely accomplished because I received the Holy Spirit, have a blessed job, have peace at home and best of all: I am sure of my salvation!

Amanda Kislley

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