God’s Amazing Grace

by | Jan 31, 2002 | Charisma Archive, Uncategorized

Once a drug addict and prison inmate, Lupe Dobbs now pastors her own church.

Forty-four-year-old Lupe Dobbs knows all about God’s amazing grace. Whether it’s preaching to her congregation or counseling substance abusers, the former drug addict, prostitute and prison inmate insists to anyone who will listen that only God can turn a life around.

“My past is what God has used to bring me to this point in life,” Dobbs says.

From 1970 to 1989 Lupe lived in east Los Angeles and was in and out of jail, turning tricks on the street, and shooting up cocaine or some other drug. She was often homeless and lost her six children to foster care for several years.

Today the Assemblies of God minister, with the help of some of her children, is busy planting a church near her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Her desire, she says, “is to reach the lost and disadvantaged of our community.” Lupe also works at an area drug rehabilitation center, where for the last 12 years she has been a counselor and detoxification technician and more recently the housing coordinator.

“I was given a second chance,” Lupe says.

Lupe’s Los Angeles childhood was far from a normal, happy one. Her father worked a great deal and wasn’t home much with Lupe and her three sisters. Her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “She just wasn’t there for us, emotionally or mentally,” Lupe says.

Lupe started experimenting with drugs and sex at age 13, but her involvement escalated through her teen years. At 16 she was raped at gunpoint by a gang member.

“He threatened to kill me or my family if I ever told anyone,” she says. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when Lupe was going through healing and recovery in Eugene, that she dealt with what had happened.

She dropped out of high school at 17 when she found out she was pregnant. “My son, Ralph, was born when I was 18,” Lupe says. “That’s also the time when my family fell apart.” Her mother was committed to a psychiatric hospital and her father left home, forcing Lupe’s two younger sisters into foster care.

Lupe and her older sister parted company but years later ended up living together. Lupe had two more children: a daughter, Helen, born in 1978, and a son, Richard, born in 1979.

Lupe’s sister eventually kicked Lupe and her children out, but they were taken in by neighbors who had a son, Charles. He and Lupe were soon sharing the same lifestyle of drugs and drinking and moved in together. Later they were married.

One time, after a heavy night of partying, Lupe got into a fight with a girlfriend. “I was hung over, and she was still drunk,” Lupe says. “I ended up calling the police.”

The police settled the squabble by arresting Lupe for child neglect of Ralph, 5; Helen, 2; and Richard, 1. “I’ve never forgotten that,” she says, “getting arrested in front of my children. They were holding onto my leg, crying: “‘Don’t leave, Mama. Don’t leave.'”

Her children were placed in foster care. During the next several years, Lupe regained custody, but most of the children, including baby Charles Jr., ended up living with a family friend. Richard was adopted.

“It was all downhill from there,” Lupe says. In 1985 she and Charles were arrested, and Lupe was sentenced to two years in the California state penitentiary.

A month into serving her time, in December 1986, Lupe accepted Christ after hearing of her husband’s conversion and listening to other inmates witness to her. She got involved in a Bible study and helped form a choir. Lupe’s sentence was reduced to 10-1Ž2 months.

As she eagerly awaited her day of freedom, the prison chaplain warned her to stay away from friends and family. “He told me I wasn’t strong enough,” she says. “He was right.”

Upon her release Lupe went right back into the drug scene. In November 1987 another baby, Dorothy, was born. But doctors detected cocaine in her system, and the baby was taken from Lupe and placed in foster care.

At this point, Charles’ father and an uncle approached the couple with two one-way bus tickets to Eugene, where a relative would help them get a job and get established.

They left Los Angeles in 1988, but life in Eugene was rough. The job didn’t pan out, and they found themselves homeless.

In January 1989 Lupe, now pregnant with her sixth child, became deathly ill with pancreatitis and ended up in the hospital, where she was given morphine shots every four hours for the pain. The doctor’s prognosis finally got Lupe’s attention: “‘Stop drinking and doing drugs,’ he told me, ‘or you and your baby will die,'” Lupe says.

During the rest of her two-week hospital stay, she cried out to God. “I told Him I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t know what else to do.”

God heard Lupe’s prayers and immediately delivered her from drugs, alcohol and smoking. “I haven’t touched any of that stuff since then. It’s been 13 years,” she says.

By the time Cindy was born, Lupe and Charles were settled in an apartment. Remembering the prison chaplain’s advice, Lupe got plugged into a church, Willamette Christian Center, right away. She also began to be mentored by an older, spiritually mature woman who could disciple her and hold her accountable.

Later that year, Lupe enrolled in a local community college and started work at Willamette Family Treatment Service, a drug rehabilitation center. By 1992 Lupe had an associate’s degree in community service, and she and Charles had three of the children back from foster care: Ralph, who was now 16; Helen, 13; and, Charles Jr., 6.

In 1994, while Lupe was working on a bachelor’s degree, Charles died suddenly of encephalitis. “We had just turned a corner in our marriage,” Lupe says. “It was heartbreaking.” But instead of turning to drugs or alcohol, Lupe turned to her church family, who rallied around her and her children.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, Lupe pursued a master of divinity from Western Evangelical Seminary. She graduated in April 2000 and the following month became a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. She also was approved by its home missions board to begin a church plant.

Her church, Maranatha Assembly of God, currently meets in leased office space in nearby Springfield, Oregon. Her congregation is small in number but growing quickly. Daughter Cindy, 12, and son Charles Jr., 16, are ushers, communion servers and nursery workers.

“They pray with me all the time,” their mom says. “I’ve been very blessed. They really work hard to help out and support me.”

Her two older children, 26-year-old Ralph and 23-year-old Helen, live in the area and, according to Mom, “are so proud of me. They tell everybody what I do.” Dorothy, 14, lives with friends in California and visits often.

Besides handling her pastoral duties and working at the drug rehabilitation center, Lupe is involved in occasional prison outreaches. “I minister wherever God opens up the doors for me.”

“If you had told me when I was all messed up that I would one day be doing this, I would’ve looked at you like you were bonkers,” Lupe says. “It’s only by God’s grace that I am what I am.”

Nancy Justice is a free-lance writer living in Florida.


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Will the New Set of Seven Years on the Jewish Calendar Be Our Last?

Will the New Set of Seven Years on the Jewish Calendar Be Our Last?

Note: This is the second of a two-part series. For part one, click here. Beginning at sunset on Sunday, Sept. 25, our Jewish friends (and increasingly many Christians) will begin a two-day celebration of Rosh Hashanah, their time for new beginnings or a "new year."...

Is America Preparing the Way for a One-World Ruler?

Is America Preparing the Way for a One-World Ruler?

The culmination of history is approaching. The end of the world may be at hand. Yet Jesus tells us we should not be alarmed. Why? Because we are engraved in the palms of His hands. Because we are carried in His arms. Because we are the apple of His eye. The time is...

A ‘Davidic Anointing’ is Descending Upon Musical Instruments

A ‘Davidic Anointing’ is Descending Upon Musical Instruments

I once heard a testimony where the Holy Ghost was falling upon the people during worship. The preacher, R.W. Schambach, testified how the piano player got so filled with the Spirit that she fell off of the piano bench and the piano kept right on playing. No other...

Joyce Meyer: How You Can Make God’s Love Your Lifestyle

Joyce Meyer: How You Can Make God’s Love Your Lifestyle

I have made it a priority to study about love in the Word of God. Getting a revelation about how much God loves me and learning to receive His love has been life-changing for me. It’s been the key to being able to really enjoy my life because when I received God’s...

Mario Murillo: What God is Saying About America’s Destruction

Mario Murillo: What God is Saying About America’s Destruction

Many prophetic words released today shout one of these two headlines: America Is Past Hope and Will Be Destroyed America Is Favored and Will Never Be Destroyed Facebook oozes with voices claiming to be prophets or mouthpieces for God. The internet teems with...

How The Christian Community Can Change American Politics for Good

How The Christian Community Can Change American Politics for Good

A fascinating discovery has taken place recently in the state of California. Locals there attest that the wildfires that have ravaged the landscape, lives and livelihoods of residents for a decade don’t seem to be getting any better. They seem to be getting worse,...


Former Atheist: How the Deconstruction of Your Christian Faith Can Actually Strengthen It

Best-selling author Lee Strobel, an atheist and investigative journalist who failed to disprove the resurrection of Jesus during two years of digging for evidence, believes Christians who properly...
Rod Parsley: Are You the Pharisee or the Tax Collector?

Rod Parsley: Are You the Pharisee or the Tax Collector?

As with all virtues, humility has an opposite: pride. It should not surprise us that revival and restoration begins with humility, because all “falling away” begins with pride. Pride sent the archangel Lucifer plummeting from the heights of glorious splendor near the...

What to Do with an Urgent Warning from the Lord

What to Do with an Urgent Warning from the Lord

Many people are receiving urgent warnings from the Lord about things taking place in the earth. Releasing those warnings can be difficult. Done the wrong way, people will turn a deaf ear and the last thing you want to do is breed fear. Maybe you aren't getting...

Prophetic Word: ‘You Will Taste the Rain of Heaven’

Prophetic Word: ‘You Will Taste the Rain of Heaven’

Get ready for a supernatural strength to take over the land. It is time for worldwide revival and for you to reclaim what God has promised. Don’t back down and give in to despair. God’s plan is in motion. I heard the Lord say, “The enemy has brought discouragement and...

Mario Murillo: The Fuse to a National Awakening

Mario Murillo: The Fuse to a National Awakening

A lot of churchgoers yearn for soothing sermons. Meanwhile, a growing company seeks to understand authority, brokenness and Resurrection life. Who are these “others” who have their eyes wide open? They are too loud for most. They pray longer and deeper than what is...

The Value of the Golden Aged Among Us

The Value of the Golden Aged Among Us

Sarah bore Isaac when she was 90 years old. Moses led the Israelites out of bondage when he was 80. God cared for them, carried them, and used them! If you are nearing or are already in your golden years, don’t despair. You have much to offer to those behind you. You...

Pin It on Pinterest