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From Prison to a Life of Purpose



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Viola Heggs is a successful licensed counselor. It’s a long way from where she was in 1996, in prison, battling drug addiction and expecting her second child.

“I just felt like it wasn't no hope for me in that one day I was going to end up dying on those drugs.”

Her prison sentence was short. However, it was long enough for her to know she never wanted to return. So, she got clean and went straight to church.

“I didn't want to take the chance of messing up my daughter's life. She was 6 months old and I just kept telling myself, I can't do this again. I just cannot do this to another child cause I wasn't there for my oldest daughter.”

At first, Viola had a hard time trusting God would take care of her. Instead, she believed her drug conviction would keep her from being hired for a job, that would provide for her two daughters.

“Even though I was clean and sober, I still felt like trash.”

That changed when she realized how much God loves her.

“It was like I could feel His liquid love just poor through me and I had never experienced that before. The more He showed me how, you know, good He was, the more I just wanted to experience that, and I also wanted to please Him.”

One of those ways was to tithe. Viola had learned about it in church.

“I got to see God really prove himself to me. He said, you know, 'prove Him', you know? 'Test Him.' And he showed me that He really was with me and that tithing is a principle of his that really works.”

At first Viola used a portion of her food stamps to buy groceries for others in needs.

“It was scary at times but I knew really too I could fall back on my mother or father if I needed to, but I didn't want to use them, I wanted God to show me what He could do.”

And He did. In 1996, Viola was offered and completed a free training program to become a CNA – a certified nursing assistant.

“I was able to get the job, not only the job, I got the certification which everybody was saying, 'they're not going to give you a certification not with all those charges you have on your record.'”

In three years, Viola was off government assistance, working nights as a CNA and supplementing her income by becoming a hair stylist. Still, Viola was able to care for her daughters and tithe.

"God gives me the ability to wake up every morning to go to the job to make that money. And so, I need to be sure that I honor Him with it."

Then in 2012, as Viola started taking college courses online, she finally began to see that her past didn’t define her.

“I'm becoming more bolder and confident in who God really made me to be. I'm truly believing in myself.”

After 7 years, she completed a master’s degree and became a licensed counselor. Now Viola is working with people in recovery from drug addiction and doubling her income.  

“This is your purpose and your destiny, and I feel fulfilled in it and I love it.”

Recently Viola increased her giving again by becoming a CBN partner.  

“I would see all the good things they did and how they helped the people in the military – just people in need. The testimonies of how the people would be healed and they'd sit and pray I just loved that. I can feel the sincerity and I knew that that was a real ministry that was doing the work for God. I just wanted to support that.”

Today, Viola is still on track for more income growth.

"It’s amazing, and I didn’t think in a million years it would be this way. That’s how it is when you serve God. I just see Him as somebody I can trust in to take all of my problems to. So I don't see why I can't share my money with Him and trust him. One thing I've found out, you can't beat God giving. And He's proven that to me.”

“I think the more you have a desire to help others, the more God will do for you and the more He expands you because of that desire, not for selfish gain, but to be a blessing to other souls. Because that's what it's about for me.”


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