Donna Fahrenkopf, 30, is in Teen Challenge*
in Fort Worth, Texas. After graduation in June, she will return to the
state of Nevada to face charges that could result in up to 15 years
in prison. She has spent time in foster homes, state homes and in many
county jails in Texas. She recently spoke with Ann Floyd, an associate
editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, about her desire for a life
Evangel: What were some of the contributing factors to your rebelliousness?
I was sexually abused when I was little. When I was adopted at age 9,
I finally had parents who cared, but I didnt care.
When I was 22, my brother, who was also adopted, shot himself. I started
doing drugs real heavy. When I threatened to kill my husbands
ex-wife, I was sent to jail for harassment. Prior to that I had been
in jail maybe a dozen times.
When I was 9, I got saved. But then I got an attitude: "I can
go to church and have things my way also." The more you have things
your way, eventually you just do everything your way.
Evangel: Recall some of your feelings when you were jailed.
Fahrenkopf: Coming from a childhood when I didnt have
anybody it took me back to that. I was totally alone. When you
walk in, youre scared, but you cant show that. You might
be there for something as minor as a ticket you didnt pay, and
the girl next to you could have killed someone. So you think, Maybe
I need to lie about why Im here, so you dont mess with me.
You learn more protection mechanisms.
And because you have a lot of free time, you have a lot of time to
think. You start wondering if this is what you want your life to be.
Evangel: You were facing charges. How did you get released to Teen
Fahrenkopf: When I got in trouble this time, I had done my drugs,
been to a treatment center, got divorced and met the man Ive been
married to now for four years.
In California I was doing so much cocaine and speed that I wasnt
sleeping, so I started refilling a pain medication prescription. I got
busted. I ended up with 58 counts against me.
When I went to court, I was facing 24 years. I went to a public defender
and said, "This is what I want to do. I want to go to a treatment
center. I want to get my life back in order, but I want to go to Texas
to do it."
The judge mandated me to a treatment center for 120 days and a 5-year
My mom had sent me literature on Teen Challenge. I had to choose whether
I wanted to breeze my way through a treatment center or really change
my life. I read some of the testimonies from Teen Challenge and I thought,
You know, I really want a life change. Even though I was mandated 120
days [in a treatment center], I chose Teen Challenge for one year.
Since Ive been here, I found I am being charged with nine other
counts. So Im facing 15 years.
I came here June 6, 2000. For several months, I let the Lord touch
things I wanted to give Him. I made some choices which could have cost
me my marriage. God kept convicting me, "You need to tell your
husband, if you really want a clean start."
At Christmas, my husband flew here. We talked about the plans we want
for our marriage how the Lords going to have to be part.
It was awesome. I thought, I can trust You, Lord. Im going to
give You everything.
Since Ive been here, the Lord has healed many, many deep wounds
from the abuse, my brothers suicide and my own destructiveness.
When I graduate on June 22, Larry Adley, Teen Challenge director, is
going to renew our vows. When I walk out of here whether its
to prison or not Im starting clean.
Evangel: What would you say to those who are headed down the path
youve been on these years?
Fahrenkopf: Everything you do affects everyone around you, and
it has a consequence in the end. There may not be a lot of people around
you, but the Lords always there. You may make mistakes and choices
that arent pleasing to Him, but He has unconditional love.
*Teen Challenge is an Assemblies of God ministry
to those with life-controlling addictions.