Mountain Brook Baptist member tells story of how God delivered her from drugs, alcoholcomment (0)
May 9, 2013
By Julie Payne
It wasn’t that long ago when Janet Gillispie’s life was on the fast track to destruction. In the quest for love, she married a boyfriend at 15 years old. That marriage ended abruptly soon after and a life of drugs, alcohol and unhealthy relationships ensued.
Gillispie was spiraling out of control and traveling down an extremely difficult road — one where she really didn’t see a way out of the looming darkness. Her days were filled with getting high, alcohol, stealing, bingeing and purging, homelessness and at one point prostitution.
“I had become comfortable with that life and resolved myself to that life,” she said.
But one day everything changed.
Gillispie went into labor with her fourth child, now 12-year-old daughter Brittany, one night in a crack house. “I kept putting the contractions off and just going through them and saying, ‘I’ve got to get one more hit before having this baby.’”
While lying in a hospital delivery room the next day about to deliver her daughter, Gillispie was fully prepared to give the baby up and walk out after giving birth.
“All I could think about and all I lived for was the crack and alcohol and my next adventure to get it,” she said. “I was hopeless that day and had been hopeless many years and had given up on ever having a different kind of life. I felt like it’s just who I am — I’m a street girl. I’m a homeless thief, liar, cheat ... prostitute, whatever I had to be for that day or that night is what I was to survive ... and to get my hit and another drink. That’s how I lived for many years.”
But it was in that hospital room that Gillispie suddenly felt an unavoidable presence around her that she couldn’t see and heard a voice saying, “Let Me love you. You’ve tried everything but Me.” She remembers as snapshots of her life then played in her mind from a little girl to that point on the table.
“I felt the guilt and I saw the sin. My eyes were opened and I said, ‘It’s too late’ … and I heard God say just as clear, ‘Just believe in Me. I offer you life today, Janet.’”
God opened Gillispie’s eyes that day and she accepted His love and believed. Her cravings for drugs and alcohol disappeared and she knew from that point forward she was different, she said.
Seeing her miraculously healthy newborn daughter, Gillispie admitted that she needed help while still in the hospital. “They didn’t take her from me … they cleaned her up and brought her to me and my life has never been the same since that day.”
Gillispie immediately began turning her life around, admitting herself into a rehab program and then connecting with Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC), a ministry of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) that serves women by equipping them with both job and life skills. Through CWJC, she was paired with mentor June Whitlow, a woman who is now “like a mother” to her.
“Sometimes when I thank God for her, which is every day, I reflect on what my life would’ve been like without CWJC and meeting June,” Gillispie said. “I just think I would not have such a filled, blessed life.”
Gillispie once worked as an X-ray tech in the Birmingham area but had lost her license on her downward spiral. After being reinstated, she was honored in 2006 as Employee of the Year out of more than 18,000 employees of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Today Gillispie continues her work at UAB Hospital as a radiology technologist and is a member of Mountain Brook Baptist Church, Birmingham, with Brittany. She also serves both on the board of directors at Pathways in Birmingham, which helps homeless women and children through services like transitional housing and life and job skills, and on a local board of an Emergency Food and Shelter Program of the United Way.
Gillispie’s “new life with Christ” also has her sharing her story with others. “He’s had me go around ... to tell of what He did for me on the delivery table and how He changed me and delivered me as well as a ... healthy, newborn baby with no addiction to the crack and the alcohol even though it was flowing through her bloodstream,” she said.
In addition to speaking to groups across the country, Gillispie’s story is also available through her new book with Sammie Jo Barstow titled “Delivered, a Memoir: My Dark Path Through Addiction.” The book, published by New Hope Publishers, details Gillispie’s life in a first-person account beginning as a young girl, her life on the streets and her amazing story of forgiveness and deliverance. She also shares about losing her other children she gave birth to during that dark and difficult period of her life.
“A lot of this is the realization of (how) I made the choices that led to that dark life,” she said. “I did try everything to fill that void and that emptiness. ... And what I filled it up with just lasted a little while. But ... the 12 and a half years in Jesus has lasted and I know He’s not going to stop being there.”
During the process of compiling the book’s content, Gillispie would record her story on cassette tapes whenever she had time and send the completed tapes to Barstow, who several years prior had written a story about Gillispie and Whitlow for WMU’s Missions Mosaic magazine. “When I first heard Janet tell the story of God’s miracle in her life, I knew her testimony could have an amazing impact on other women who are traveling the same sinful path,” Barstow said. “We both pray that many lives will be influenced by this book.”
Of the book’s content, Gillispie said, “God just brought it out of me. It was in order (and) it flowed.” There were about 26 tapes when Gillispie finished that Barstow then edited down for the book.
Gillispie noted that “Delivered, a Memoir” is a story of God’s love for anyone. “It’s for anybody at any age no matter where you’re at in your life,” she said, adding the book has “nothing to do with Janet except Janet got to live that little story and ... tell it. But it’s all His doing and it’s all because of Him. This book is His and it’s for His purpose and plans, not mine.”
For more information about Gillispie’s book, as well as a list of where it is available, visit www.newhopepublishers.com.