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Desperate for Healing from Years of Trauma

“My name is Jenny Andrews.  I'm the daughter of Herb Big Crow and ‘Nicoleen Crazy Thunder.’

Jenny is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  

“We are a beautiful group of people. We are unique.  We have a culture that is full of color and beauty.” However, she says growing up on the reservation, that is plagued by poverty, she experienced darkness and despair, early on.  “I do think there is a dominant feeling of hopelessness on the reservation because there's a lot of drugs and alcohol in our community and there's a lot of violence.” Jenny was affected by it all. At age 8, she was introduced to sniffing glue. By 12, she had been initiated into a gang and a year later, she was raped by one of its members. She turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with her emotions.  “I felt worthless, I felt devalued.”

Her drug use and drinking escalated over time. At 18, she graduated, left the reservation and joined the military through which she met her husband. Though she was disciplined for drinking and drugs, she received an honorable discharge at 20 and gave birth to her first child.  Her husband was overseas on deployment when she was raped again, after a night of partying with friends.  “And For the first time ever after I was assaulted I became brave enough to actually go to the cops. And I told them what had happened and the cop laughed at me. I felt so broken.  And so I went into a downward spiral after that. We got pregnant with our second son shortly after I was raped. I didn’t want to be married anymore. I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I didn’t care about who I was at that point. I didn’t care what happened to me. And so, while my husband was away on military duty I called my mom and I asked her to take my kids from me. I told her, I said, ‘I'd rather drink and get drunk.”

As she struggled to heal from the trauma of rape, the couple moved to Louisiana where they worked freelance to repair homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One day, their money was tight, when their boss didn’t pay them. “I became very desperate because I was hungry. We, my husband and I had to choose between getting gas that morning or getting food.  And with $6.78 you can't get a lot of gas, you can't get a lot of food either for that much money.”

While her husband repaired a Christian woman’s home, Jenny sat in the car cried out to God.  

“You know I’m not in a good place. I’m not a good mom. I don’t have money. How is this going to work? And so, I prayed to God that day for money, and I prayed, I prayed.  I’ve never prayed like that before in my life. I just prayed. After that prayer, the Christian woman had come home from work and she asked me why I was crying. So, I shared with her where I was that day. I was feeling bad about being a mom and we didn’t have any money. The Christian woman said ‘You know what Jenny, don’t worry about it. I have about $300 that I can give you right now.’ And so, she took me and my husband to go eat and she gave us the money and I thought, God answers prayer."

The next day, Jenny went to church with the woman. What she heard that day, gave her newfound hope that her life could change for the better.  “There was a man on the stage. And I remember him saying, ‘Do you want to quit drinking?  Do you want to quit smoking?  Because God has a plan, Jesus has a plan for you.’ God knew how many times I would sit in my bathroom and cry because I didn't want to drink, I didn't want to smoke, but I didn't have the power to quit on my own.  I walked into the middle of the aisle and I started to walk forward. I just remember saying, "I'm so sorry that I hurt you, God, I am so sorry that I did the things that I did.  I'm sorry.  Will you forgive me? And I felt like there was this big burden lifted off my shoulders and when I got up it was gone. You know, I was about to lose my marriage. I had lost my kids. I didn’t know where I was going. But then I met God. I met Jesus and he began to restore my life that day. And so, I walked out of that church a different woman.”  She’s been sober ever since.  
“I went to a friend's house where they were waiting for me to get high with them, to smoke weed with them.  And I remember telling them ‘I don’t need weed anymore, I got Jesus."

She began attending church and learned how to read the Bible.  “He gave me the right people to cope with my sexual assault.  I did get help. I seek counseling where needed.  And He makes me whole.  He's making me whole.”  

Today she finds joy in being a loving wife and dedicated mother to her three sons Elijah, Neil, and Malachi.  “That is my biggest ministry is being able to walk with my boys and my husband and saying, "Look at what God has done for our family because I am a first-generation Christian in my immediately family. HHe changes lives and he doesn't just change my life, but he changes families.”

Jenny’s passion is inspiring and mentoring women, especially those who live on reservations. she speaks to people around the country and shares her story of healing, hope, and salvation.

“And I started to serve my people.  I started to share with them the love that I felt with Christ and how the hopelessness that I once had was no longer there and that they could too feel that, that they didn't have to live in hopelessness, but that there was hope out there and his name is Jesus.”

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