John & Amanda 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.
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
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!