Megan R. Hunter’s deep need for acceptance led her down a harmful path filled with torment, anguish, and abuse. But ultimately, Jesus would have the last word, and that word would be freedom.
A relationship characterized by sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal activity — including stealing a rental car — served as the backdrop for several encounters with evil.
“Sometimes I doubted that God was real, but I knew the enemy was real,” says Hunter, 32. “Every day, I wondered, Am I in hell? Did I die and go to hell? I was tormented daily by the manifestations of evil around me.” She says she experienced the realities of principalities described in Ephesians 6.
While living in a hotel room, Hunter suffered through a terrible physical assault from her then-boyfriend. Knowing that they were also being followed by police for drug activity and might be arrested at any moment, she ran to the hotel lobby, pleaded with the staff to use the phone, and called her mom, Bobbi Gander, for help. Her mom came to her rescue, and helped Hunter leave the relationship that had ultimately destroyed her life.
Gander knew that Teen Challenge of Arizona was one of the most successful programs for those with substance abuse issues. Finally, after years of telling Hunter that she was cut off from the family until she got help through Teen Challenge, Gander convinced her daughter to give the program a try. Hunter enrolled as a resident at Arizona Teen Challenge’s Home of Hope in July 2011.
“In my first chapel, I told God that if He was real, I was willing to give Him a shot,” Hunter says. Even though that conversation took place, Hunter was still running from reality. She left Teen Challenge after 17 days, only to ultimately return in August 2011, this time committing to stay in the program for good.
“That initial conversation with God kick-started a genuine relationship,” Hunter says. “I was able to experience His presence and be part of His work every day of my life from that point. Experiencing God’s love was a turning point for me.” After Hunter returned to Home of Hope, she completed the one-year program, graduating in July 2012.
Through Teen Challenge, Hunter also finished a 9-month internship, where she received leadership opportunities, influencing the lives of other individuals seeking recovery. According to Hunter, leaders have more freedoms to potentially make mistakes, so this proved to be a crucial time of choosing every day to live in freedom and set an example for others.
Friend LaHoma E. Cope witnessed the changed in Hunter’s life.
“When I met Megan, I thought Satan was trying to steal her sound mind,” says Cope, 45. “Then I watched her transform.” Later, Hunter met her husband, Wesley, who is also a former Teen Challenge student, with Cope serving as the maid of honor at their wedding.
Cope, the full-time resources and development coordinator at Home of Home, helps women overcome the same struggles that she overcame. She also is on the worship team at Passion Church in Casa Grande.
For Cope, Megan, and Westley, Adult & Teen Challenge, a department of U.S. Missions, opened the door to new lives. While freedom isn’t always an easy road, the Hunters have now achieved four full years of sobriety. The church they attend, Victory Worship Center in Tucson, also offers a Celebrate Recovery ministry that provides regular opportunities for fellowship and encouragement for recovering and former addicts.
Overall, Hunter, who works as a real estate agent, says her story is a story of the transformative power of Jesus. The Hunters have two children: Ava, 3, and Adelyn, 1.
“I wouldn’t be here without God and without Teen Challenge,” Hunter says. “That ministry has given me so much, and I want to give back and help others.”