Jenesis, 20, experienced multiple forms of abuse as a child, was raised by a drug-addicted mother, then at age 13, found her own grandmother dead of a drug overdose. She bounced around government-subsidized apartments in some of Los Angeles’ roughest areas while dreaming of being a songwriter and jotting down lyrics and songs ideas. She also used drugs herself from an early age.
“Back then I would record voice memos of lyrical poems or do little voice demos on voice messages,” she says. “At times, I walked under the freeway to get home, and I would whip out my phone in the tunnel. Even if it sounded bad, at least I had the words.”
At her low point, she lived on the streets. While sitting in a subway station one day watching people pass by, she heard a word in her heart: “You don’t belong here. There’s something better for you.” Days later she received a call from her former pastor, who urged her to go to the Dream Center, which she did in March 2021.
“As soon as I walked through the door, a weight fell off me,” Jenesis says. “Something in my head said, ‘You’re safe here now. No one’s going to touch you or abuse you. Everybody’s got your back. You don’t need to be scared.'”
The program has provided her with “20 different moms in one place,” she says. “To see them loving on God and loving on me and surrendering their lives—it’s a huge thing,” she says. But structure, schedules and rules haven’t been easy to follow for someone accustomed to living with no rules at all.
“Here, there are rules set, a schedule set and you don’t just do as you please,” Jenesis says. “That’s hard, being told what to do. I’ve never really had structure in my life—people telling you when to eat, when to sleep, when to wake up.” But she has embraced the change and learned to love herself for who she is.
“All the lies I believed as a kid because of what happened—that I’m worthless—I break those beliefs down. Those were of the devil,” Jenesis says. “At the time, I didn’t understand. I thought I would always feel like this and be like that.”
She still wonders why God chose to rescue her.
“I come from the most rundown city of LA and a really rough background. As far as I was concerned, I was a nobody and nothing, but coming here, I feel I have a purpose in life, and I’m somebody,” Jenesis says. “I feel I have a light in me that could reach people my age, and [I could] be a leader. My goal is to show people my age who are going through the same thing I went through that there is hope. You are worthy and you are loved. It’s true, and that’s what keeps me going.”