A Prodigal's Journey from the Pew to Prison to Phnom Penh | World Challenge

A Prodigal's Journey from the Pew to Prison to Phnom Penh

God’s commands can sometimes seem so impossible to fulfill, so distant from what we want. In these moments, it can be so easy to become angry at God. Our visitor this week, Holly Dziedzickie, shares how her frustration with God’s commands led her down a rebellious path until he called her back in the most extraordinary way.

God’s commands can sometimes seem so impossible to fulfill, so distant from what we want. In these moments, it can be so easy to become angry at God. Our visitor this week, Holly Dziedzickie, shares how her frustration with God’s commands led her down a rebellious path until he called her back in the most extraordinary way.

Gary Wilkerson: Hi, I'm so glad you guys are here today. I'm Gary Wilkerson with the Gary Wilkerson podcast. We're in for a really good story today, Holly, we are so happy to have you with us. We're going to be hearing a story of God's miraculous power.

How He not only changes a life and Holly in your life makes you a devout follower of Jesus but gives you a purpose and a way to help other people. Holly, thanks for coming here today. I want to start off with your testimony, you came from Christian home, right?

Holly Dziedzickie: Yes.

Gary: Both parents mom and dad.

Holly: Yes.

Gary: Loved Jesus devout, took you to church.

Holly: Yes, took to me to church, growing up, they would talk about God at the dinner table. I believed in Jesus. I believed that there was a God and His name was Jesus Christ. My mom sent me to Awana and all those things good Christian parents do.

Gary: They were probably a little concerned when they saw, you were a teenager you started getting involved in some things that would not be necessarily a Christian lifestyle, to say the least.

Holly: Yes, when I was a teenager, actually, the first thing I started getting involved in was homosexuality, from there I got caught, was I 12? You got caught and then--

Gary: Caught by your parents or you were caught by somebody else?

Holly: Actually, the pastor of the church by love letters. I was writing with another girl that was in church and her stepmother found it and she gave it to the pastor.

Gary: Pastor told your parents?

Holly: Yes, he told my parents and then he came and had a meeting with me and he said, "Holly, you have a fork in the road. You have to choose. Are you going to follow Christ or are you going to go down this road of your own way?" I told him at the time I choose to follow Christ. I was a little kid though but in my heart, I didn't. In my heart, I was very angry with God for making it wrong in the Bible. He could've made it right. Why did he make it wrong? That sparked I would say, a seed of rebellion. From there, I would still do the things I wanted to do, but be hiding it from my parents back, got into drinking, got into hanging out with the wrong people, got into drugs and ended up just keep coming home and hiding it.

Holly: When you say drugs like you're talking about smoking pot.

Holly: You start out smoking cigarettes as a kid and then go from there to pot. Then from there got into methamphetamine and then from there got into selling pot, so I could pay for my methamphetamine. Then from there, got into selling methamphetamine, and then from there, decided to cook it. Why should I sell it for them and give them all the money when I can learn how to make it myself. I just started hanging out with the bikers and with the Mexican mafia, different people that were cooking and I figured out how to do it myself. Then I became a cook with a girlfriend in and out of jail.

Gary: During this time, did you have any reminiscence of the background of your mind, of the words that you heard in church or your parents that was Jesus whispering to you at all or did you totally shut them out?

Holly: Well, during that time, it's funny because I use needles, I would inject methamphetamine. I would sit there with girlfriends or whoever I was doing drugs with and I would talk to him about God. I say, there is a God, his name is Jesus Christ. I'm not following him but he's real. It was just a matter of fact to me but there wasn't that personal relationship. I remember having little experiences as a kid here and there, but what I have now today, present today is not what I had then for sure.

Gary: You didn't have the clear understanding of Christ being your Lord and Savior.

Holly: I didn't have this Holy Spirit living inside of me telling me no, don't do that or making me uncomfortable to do so like I do now living inside of me. When I do something it's like I fill up and it's telling me no. It actually makes sin uncomfortable. It's the point to where the things that used to attract me and the things that I used to live for and fight for and be willing to die for before now are like a repellent to me. It's really weird. It's from darkness into light. Really quite an experience.

Gary: How did that experience happen? The transforming of your heart and the renewing of your mind coming to Christ, how did that happen to you?

Holly: Well, the last time I got arrested, I was a felon. I had already been arrested for manufacturing and I had a loaded firearm. I had drugs all bagged up, so I could sell them and I got caught.

Gary: In your car?

Holly: That's actually interesting. I was at another drug addict's house trying to meet up with a girlfriend of mine that I was fighting with and she was supposed to come meet me. The cops pulled up to their house and I had on me a gun. I was sitting in their chair, I had on me the drugs, and I was drinking alcohol and I saw the cops pull up. There was this weird void or numbness that went over me. I had time to get up and throw the gun out the back door into the neighbor's yard and throw the drugs and everything and wait until the cops leave and go back and get it.

For some reason, I just sat there and kept drinking my bottle. They walked in, they said, are you on probation or parole? I said, no, I was lying and then they said, can we search you? I said, no. Then they searched me and they ended up finding the gun and the drugs and there I went off. Even me getting arrested, that last time I got arrested was miraculously-- It was miraculous in a sense of I let them arrest me. It was weird.

Gary: God was preparing for something to happen. It was actually while you were in prison then somebody talked about Christ or did you go to a chapel?

Holly: While I was in jail, I was like in this dark cloud. You have the drugs coming out of you and so your skin feels like it's crawling. I started hearing loud whispers like, “Psh! Psh!” and I thought it was the girls and said shut up and I jumped on the tables they were scared of me. The guards would move me to other pods because you're fighting your case, you're in County. They wanted to give me 12 years, which was actually a good deal for me at the time and because a loaded firearm, what do you do when you're a felon already? That was going on and they moved me from pod to pod because of my violence. I would pace up and down and say, let the bodies hit the floor. If anybody came near me I shove them.

Gary: I heard you say earlier, you had studied some type of martial arts.

Holly: My dad had all in his kids.

Gary: It wasn’t just rage, but knowing what to do with your rage. You could hurt somebody.

Holly: I was very much a fighter, street fighter, and everything. There was no problem. I liked violence. It actually attracted me. They moved me from pod to pod, which actually if I looking back at it, if they wouldn't have moved me because of my violent outbursts, they actually drove me in the middle of the night from a low-security jail to high security. If they didn't do that, I wouldn't have ran into this girl I knew from the streets, her name was Michelle. She was in there for four years fighting a murder case. She was a pretty evil broad. I saw her and it was like I was in this dark cloud and I saw her, it was hard to explain but she looked different, shiny in a weird way.

I walked in for like, Michelle, she's like, Holly. I said, what happened to you and what I meant by that was you're weird looking, you're shiny. She didn't know what I was talking about, but she ended up telling me she had gotten saved. This little old lady from Yucca Valley would come drive down and tell the girls about Jesus. She said, "Do you girls want to be delivered?" If they said yes, she'd come and pray over them. She said, Jesus Christ can deliver you, and pray over them. Michelle's was very demon possessed. They would go into the Bible studies and County and stuff just to get out of your cell. You're locked down for 22 hours, you just went out. Whatever it takes, I can get out and go into a room, okay I'll go there.

It doesn't matter what you're going to talk about to them. She said yes. The lady prayed for her. She fell on the ground doing a flop. Demons came out of her, and so she got saved. That's what I was seeing was this girl that I knew from the streets who was totally different. The inmates respected her, the cops respected her in County, and she was now the trustee and there was just something different about her. During that time, I'm this crazy violent homosexual drug addict, violent but there was something in her that I wanted. I called home and I called my mom and I said, can you send me a Bible? She sent me a Bible and I tried to read it and it was just, I opened it, I was excited.

I was in my little two-man cell with my roommate. I read it and it didn't make any sense to me. It went in my head and it spun around and it made me really mad. I was like, man, all you Christians and I started saying something, I don't know. I threw the Bible across the room. My roommate was supposedly a Christian and she said something, I was like, shut up lady and then she's like, I'm going to push the button. There's an emergency button because I scared her. I was like, no you're not going to push the button. I knew if she did, they'd moved my pod again and I'd be away from Michelle. I had her up by the throat against, so she couldn't push the button where the window, the cops can't see in the window, because you're just in that door.

There's only a little tiny window about a foot by what maybe four inches. She's screaming, I'm like, "Shut up lady." Then Michelle was out because she was the trustee. She came up to the door, she said, "Holly, what are you doing?" I said, "I'm tired of you guys tell about the Bible I try to read as much of jargon." She said, "You need to ask God to open your eyes before you read that." She walked away and I was like, "Whatever." Anyway, she walked away. I calmed my roommate down, she went on her bed and cried herself to sleep and I got the Bible, I sat on my bed and I said, God, open my eyes. I opened it and I started to read it randomly opened it to Romans chapter five.

Romans chapter five and chapter six is how I got saved. Where it talks about how God's demonstrated his own love towards us and how he died for the unrighteous. As I was reading it and how he died for the ungodly, and you keep reading, it's something light. It was like something hit me. The thought came to my mind. I'm ungodly and also whatever was keeping me from understanding what I was reading before. It's like God ripped it off. He opened in my eyes. I understood what I was reading. Which was a miracle. As I kept reading it, talked about being a slave to sin. Don't you know whoever you choose to obey, that was whom you obey? Whether of sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness but God be thanked. As I'm reading, I'm like, "I'm a slave to sin." It was just like this revealing, I guess you'd say, of who I was and it was shocking to me. I'm a slave? I was realizing all those years of drugs, all the lies I said, all the cons I did, and everything. I knew that there was a God and his name was Jesus Christ. I knew that he died on the cross for my sin but I also knew there was a Satan and the thought came to me, "I've been being conned."

All my life I thought I was doing what I needed to do to make me happy but I've been serving Satan. I've been a slave to him and he's been robbing me. It was anger. I was like, "I'm such an idiot." Then as I kept reading, but there was a choice. I could choose to be a slave or I could choose to be obedient. The end of that is life eternal. I was definitely an enemy of God. As you read through those chapters, you'll see that you're in enmity with God. You're an enemy of God and that qualified me to be able to receive from him. I remember back then, I didn't know Christianese and everything.

It was like my life flashed before my eyes and I was realizing how many years I threw away on all the drugs and all the false relationships. Always looking for love, really. I looked up and I said, "God, I don't know you but I want you and there's things in me. I can feel it up in my throat. I'm a homosexual. I'm a drug addict. I'm a alcoholic, but if you don't like it, you can change me because I want you." It was like, after that… The sinner's prayer or whatever, that was my sinner's prayer. God met me right where I was at and after that, I couldn't read the Bible enough. The more I read it, it would give me this feeling, this excitement.

I’d come out of my cell before, it was like let the bodies hit the floor. Now, it's like God gave me new eyes and I would look at the women and it wasn't like how can I get a candy bar from you or maybe I want to sleep with you. It wasn't like that anymore. Now, it was like, I had this feeling and these new emotions and I go by them. I'd stand by and they're like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "I love you, man." They're like, "What are you doing in your room?" I'm like, "Man, I'm just reading the Bible. If you just open it and you just read it, it's better than drugs. It's better than sex, man. It's so good."

They're like, "Really?" I'm like, "Yes, it makes you feel really good, but you got to say open my eyes, first."

Gary: You already had your pattern. [crosstalk]

Holly: Yes. That was me just coming off of drugs and not knowing really the word of God. That's how I got saved. After that, they wanted me to give me 12 years, which was a good deal but actually they dropped it the next time I went to court and they gave me three years. So I got three years and I started to learn how to be a Christian in prison, which was good. I needed to be behind bars for that. I ended up getting out in one and a half years on good time and learned a lot. I learned a lot. Blew it a little bit. You know what I mean? Because you're just out of Egypt.

Going through that wilderness. [laughs] Not getting laid. What do you mean, "Blessed are the meek? What does this mean, God?" I don't get I'll fight for you? What do you mean weak? Where God's like, "Okay. I'll show you here in prison because you can't learn it on the streets. You need to learn it here first."

Gary: That's so powerful. After that, you went to a Bible school?

Holly: Yes.

Gary: In California?

Holly: Yes. I went to Calvary Chapel Bible College in in Murrieta and graduated.

Gary: That's a transition. That's a real transformation. Now, moving up to more current things. From the time at Bible school, you got a call to do something a little bit unusual? We will talk about this minute. You ended up in Cambodia for the last 10 years. You've been in Cambodia. It was that like, "I'm going to go to Cambodia and help people there." Or was it like God somehow miraculously told you to get up and go?

Holly: Yes. There was a guy that was going to Bible college. He went to Cambodia. He emailed me and said, "Holly, we really need worship leaders here." I'm a worship leader. That's another story. I was like, "I'll be praying that God would send some people to Cambodia. I'll pray for you." I didn't want to go because I have in my drugs and stuff would go into Mexico a lot and I didn't like Mexico when I went there. It was just for working, you would say. My idea of missions was like that. I didn't want to be a missionary, but I was willing to do whatever God wanted me to do so I started praying that God would send missionaries over to Cambodia, worship leaders.

In my last semester, I was getting ready to graduate and then God really clearly-- It was funny. I'm praying for Cambodia. I didn't even know where it was. It sounds like Africa to me. You know what I mean? The name. Never bothered to look and then all of a sudden, wherever I go, I go to the gym, there's a story about Cambodia. I was like, "That's funny. I'm praying for that country." Then I'm driving the car to go to Bible school and the pastor was talking about Cambodia. Then God told me to go to morning devos at Bible college and I didn't have a class that day so I wouldn't normally go.

I got up early, went to the morning devos and it was this big, huge screen and it was a big map and it was Cambodia. It was almost like God smacked in the face with Cambodia, in a sense. Driving home, I said, "God, do you want me to go to Cambodia?" It was just like this instant love poured through my heart to the point where I got teared up, had to pull over because I was driving on the freeway. I was going to crash and I was like, "Okay. I will go." I bought a ticket to go to Cambodia for three months, a round trip. Then while I was there, He called me there. It wasn't like, "Oh, I'm good. God told me to go so I went."

Gary: You've been there for 10 years now. Tell us a little bit about your ministry there in Cambodia. You're working with, what's the name of the ministry?

Holly: Girls' House of Refuge.

Gary: Girls' House of Refuge. Tell me, what is that?

Holly: God told me to open a home for women, for young women. So I did and then he would choose and bring the ones he wanted to, so he ended up bringing girls that were pregnant or girls that got raped and different girls. Also, just really poor girls. I started getting a name for being willing to take drug addicts, being willing to take alcoholics, being willing to take traumatized girls that are all knocked-up or pregnant. Nobody else can help them. Other Christian organizations in the country would call me and say, "Hey, will you take this girl?" Or, "Hey, there's this girl. This person's trying to sell this girl, this little girl, 14, 12, whatever."

I would take those kind of girls. Also, with women's ministry, you're drawn to women. When you go out in public, girls are drawn to girls. They want to share the gospel. We'll go through the whole Bible in a year at my house. They want to practice what they're studying. It's really cool because they're baby Christians so everything's new, which I loved it because it's just really innocent in a sense.

Gary: You still lived in the home where the girls come in now after 10 years?

Holly: Yes. We all live together.

Gary: Did I hear you say more than one home now?

Holly: Well, I did before. Right now, we're back down to one.

Gary: That's in Phnom Penh?

Holly: Yes, in Phnom Penh.

Gary: Okay. You're in the city. You're in the bustling, hustling, crazy part of the world. That's… World Challenge, our ministry, does work there and we have for 20 years or so or more in Cambodia and in Phnom Penh in some of the rural areas, church planting and things like that but we've ran across some of these things that you have been facing as well and it's not an easy ministry.

Holly: Yes. You can call me. Bring me the girls.

Gary: All right. That's so cool. Thank you.

Notable Quotes from the Podcast

…when I was a teenager, actually, the first thing I started getting involved in was homosexuality. In my heart, I was very angry with God for making it wrong in the Bible. He could've made it right. Why did he make it wrong? That sparked I would say, a seed of rebellion. - Holly Dziedzickie

I didn't have the Holy Spirit living inside of me telling me, “No, don't do that!” or making me uncomfortable to do sin like I do now. It actually makes sin uncomfortable. It's the point to where the things that used to attract me and the things that I used to live for and fight for and be willing to die for before now are like a repellent to me. - Holly Dziedzickie

The lady prayed for her. She fell on the ground doing a flop. Demons came out of her, and so she got saved. That's what I was seeing was this girl that I knew from the streets who was totally different. The inmates respected her, the cops respected her in County, and she was now the trustee and there was just something different about her. During that time, I'm this crazy violent homosexual drug addict, but there was something in her that I wanted. - Holly Dziedzickie

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

About Gary Wilkerson

Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

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