Hurt. Pain. Confusion. They’re all things that can make us have doubt. Doubt in ourselves, doubt in our future, doubt in our faith— we can face many challenges when doubt arises. However, it is up to us to remain faithful in our God, and know that we are forever in His hands.
Kelly Cody, a Bridgeway attendee since April of 2014, has had quite the journey— and an amazing story. I, Joy Jenkins, had the privilege of sitting down with her one morning in a busy Starbucks. Although there was a ton of commotion around us, I was hanging on to her every word as she shared her testimony with me.
“I look at things through a different perspective now, and I see that everything that we go through is for a reason,” she said. “Even in the most horrific situation, there IS glory in it. And because my story is so traumatic, it has to be to save others—to help, to heal, and to restore them. I know this is what my purpose is.”
When Kelly was only six years old, she and her family got evicted from their home. She lived in a van up until her sixth grade year of grade school. During this hard time, she and her siblings watched their father physically abuse their mother. Once they moved into a trailer park, she and her sister were then sexually molested by their father. “Child protective services actually came to our house without us knowing who called them, and we were removed from our parent’s custody,” she stated. However, after three months of being in a foster home, she and her siblings moved back in with her mom.
Her father passed away traumatically, and when her mother remarried, Kelly and her stepfather did not get along. It came to the point where he told her to leave. “I was 15 years old and I moved in with my best friend. It was the worst decision of my life and I got into very bad situations,” she said. A 48-year old man pulled up in a car while she was walking down the street. She said, “He told me how he could show me the world on a silver spoon—and I believed him. And this was the beginning of a world that I knew nothing about.”
At age 15, Kelly went from state to state being sex-trafficked because the man forced her through manipulation and physical violence. At one point, she thought she was escaping with another 15-year old by getting on a plane to San Francisco, but another man (pimp) in the prostitution business picked them up from the airport. The man who she tried to escape from was in the back of the car without her knowing, and he put a gun to her head. “He said to me, ‘I should kill you right now’—but I survived,” Kelly stated. The man driving the car took her and added her into his own sex trafficking ring.
After a few months had passed, Kelly had sustained being raped, severely beaten, and held hostage for seven days as she was told she was going to be shot and thrown out of the car. She managed to escape. She called her parents, but they didn’t want her to come back home. Her parents took her to an in-patient psychiatric hospital. “I ended up going to a residential treatment center for five months, where I was treated for battered women syndrome, depression, and anorexia that I had developed through the years of being held in prostitution,” she shared.
After treatment, from 16 to 18 years of age, Kelly went to live in a teen center. At age 19, she ended up marrying a marine and had two kids in that marriage—but it was not a healthy relationship emotionally. “My husband was unfaithful to me with several women,” Kelly said. She ended that marriage and entered another marriage that lasted 11 years. She had two more children through that marriage, but dealt with severe, physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
“I started to question myself and God saying, ‘This is the God I serve? He wants me to stay in this?’ This very question was the question that helped me get out,” she said. She did a 21-day fast for God to show her who the man she was married to really was. Not only did God show Kelly her husband’s true colors, but He also showed her who she really was. And she knew that she was worth more and that the God she served did not want these things for her.
She escaped from her husband with her four children. They survived. By God’s grace, Kelly and her family survived!
Kelly later applied to, and got accepted into, an honors society at a social work school, where she finished with a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). She then went on to receive her master’s degree, where she finished with a 4.0 GPA while raising four kids, not having a job, and commuting 2.5 hours each way, to and from school. At one point her car was taken in the middle of the night and God made a way through the help of others to make sure Kelly did not miss a day of school or internship. She stated, “I can’t even fathom how it even got achieved. I just knew that God had a plan.”
Everything happens for a reason. Although we may not see what God is up to while we are in the heart of the storm, He will see us through and guide us to a better place. Kelly said, “God’s initial plan is not for us to see turmoil or bad situations, but we learn valuable lessons in them. We have to make a conscious decision to say, ‘No I’m not going to be a victim’, because God says to find the glory in all things”.
God is using Kelly to share her story and be a blessing to others. Kelly never lost faith that her God would get her out of the mess that she was in. She stated, “Right now, I feel like I’m standing on the shore, looking out into the ocean and I can see a small object. It could be a boat, a raft, a yacht, a ship—it could be anything because it’s that far away, and looks that small. But whatever it is, it’s coming towards me. And I feel like that’s God showing me that there are bigger things to come. And as it gets closer, it will be revealed.”