Life can be full of transitions such as going from high school to college, from
college to career, from career to career, from single to married, from newlyweds
to a house full of kids. All of the before mentioned are usually wonderful experiences
and fill the scrap book with memories. Conversely, some of life’s transitions can
have a downward direction and sometimes hit a bottom or a wall in which there is
nowhere else to go. However is heard, the lyrics of that old song, “somewhere in
the darkest night a candle glows” and and not just a flicker but a laser. A light
that transitions the would be defeated testimony with the phrase...”but God.” This
two-word hinge of scripture is the resolve and power of the life that encounters
God. It is in this encounter that life’s greatest transitions can be found and experienced.
We call these stories and exploits–Transitions of Glory...We would love to hear yours
Gospel recording artist Rev. Marvin Sapp sings a song, “I Would Never Have Made
It Without You” (the reference is to the Lord, of course) that may have also been
the theme song for Rev. Denise McGirt who graduated form Wor-Wic Community College
in Salisbury Maryland this year (2011).
Denise who majored in Chemical Dependency Counseling is accepted at Salisbury
University, where she will pursue her bachelor degree and ultimately her masters.
Already a minister and an evangelist, Denise’s life is dedicated to helping others,
many are those to whom she can relate as the below 2008 interview unfolds.
Denise McGirt in cap and gown...glowing in another glorious life transition - picture courtesy WMDT 47 News ABC Salisbury
The Denise McGirt Story
-by Terrence Clark Editor Voice of One Online
Her realities merged as she climbed out of her home’s second story window in
Glassboro NJ—shutting it behind her. She was screaming for help. She was desperate.
Her quests for help from drug rehabs centers were futile. She wasn’t crazy enough
they said. She had to be court committed.
Denise was born in Philadelphia, was raised some in Washington DC, but spent
most of her rearing in Glassboro, South Jersey. Her last move was to Salisbury, Maryland
where she sometimes wondered why God sent her there. He was establishing and connecting
her. At times it was overwhelming. There were all kinds of people He would send her
way. This included people of advantage and prestige as well as people who were disadvantaged
The Lord would show her favor, introducing her to good opportunities. She admits
opportunities that her and her husband would have never come into if she had still
been in South Jersey. Still looking back on the last several years, thinking if she
had to do it all again, she probably would not want to, but they were here now (in
Salisbury) because they believed it was the Lord’s will.
Denise recalled the many transitions in her life. She is the mother of three
children two girls and one boy—all grown. Her oldest girl is 24, her son 35 who was
born on Independence Day, she added, has always been independent, and never gave
her any problems. She admits the baby who is now 22 was the hardest one to let go.
It was just the other day the Lord opened her eyes and let her know before His process
can work in her children lives, she had to let go. So she’s trusting Proverbs 22:6
train them up in the way they should go and they’ll not depart. So she’s just trusting
God to bring them back.
It wasn’t her children that would prove the hardest challenge in her life. About
two weeks after having her third child, she was introduced to cocaine. It was an
addiction that would last for the next twelve years. During that time she would also
lose virtually everything—her home, car, dignity, self-respect and the trust of her
“I lost a lot, said Denise, but I thank God that despite of losing everything,
I found the most precious thing—a Savior who loved me despite of what I had done.”
“When I got to point where I said God I can’t do it. You have to do it. I give
it to you, it was then He did what he was waiting to do for me all along. He delivered
me and set free from drugs. But I didn’t necessary step back into the same place
of mother, daughter, and sister, but I was able to step into a place and be a mother
daughter and sister again.
Until God restored me completely, my children were literally scared to let me
go. They would be afraid that they wouldn’t see me again, because there was one time
that I said I will right back and they didn’t see me back for four years. So it
was hard for them to watch me go out the house. They literally would hold on to
me. But I thank God; it will be 11 years (as of the time of this 2008 interview)
in October thank the Lord. And, it will be twelve years that I have been married
to a man, who has been there for me, and stuck there with me, no matter what.
You hear a lot about drug addiction beginning before children come along. Denise’s
drug addiction came after her children were born. Unknown to her, her two youngest
daughter’s father had been involved in drugs. She knew he would spend a lot of time
away from home and didn’t understand his distance from her and the children. Her
answer came on the night when one of his friends came home with him and the two began
to do drugs in front or her––bringing into their house what he had been doing before
on the street.
“The opportunity entered into our home, and consequently I got involved” said
Denise. I am a firm believer in the need for people to guard their emotions, because
your emotions can set you up to get involved into some things that you really never
planned to get involved in. You can find yourself doing things just because of your
emotions. Consequently, I did what I did because of him. You see, I just wanted to
be with him. I was so involved with him that I just wanted to be with him and be
a part of what he was doing. You know wherever you are; I just want to be there.”
Still she knew better. She knew that drugs were wrong. She wasn’t coerced.
She was simply asked if she wanted some of the cocaine. “I had never seen cocaine
before explains Denise. I smoked cigarettes before, I smoke marijuana before, and
I had drunk liquor before.
I didn’t know what it was. I asked, well what is it? They said, this is coke.
My response, so okay, what is that? So they prepared it, so I could ingest it. They
had to show me how to do it. I didn’t know how. They said you don’t pull on it like
a cigarette. You don’t smoke it like a joint. So after tasting coke it for the first
time. I said okay, what’s the big deal?”
It wasn’t her first taste of the drug that would pull her down for the next
twelve years of her life—it was the second taste. She attempted it again the same
night and that’s when it kicked her brain.
“And that’s what coke does, she explains. It kicks your brain and it’s that feeling
that you are actually chasing. The feeling that you did the first time is what you
are constantly trying to get. That’s why it so addictive. It’s very psychological.”
Again Denise warned of the role emotions played in addiction. She believes addiction
power is in the emotions. “You can love a person, really love a person and commit
to them, but then you can be in love with a person, but you can also be involved
with a person and be emotionally bound by that person, she explained.
You can also dislike a person and be emotionally drawn to them and when you
are in an emotional relationship with someone that’s insecurity on your behalf. You
find yourself being with that person just because of emotions or doing what that
person does just because of emotions. Yes, I heard that drugs were bad, but I just
wanted to be involved with him. I was thinking if I just do what he’s doing; it would
make him love me more. He’ll spend that time with me that he has been spending out
in the street.”
But her emotional call to her husband did not work. She remembered that as
long as she was dependent on him supplying her drugs, they were able to get along.
She also remembered that the day he came home and she offered him the drugs are the
day when the relationship ended.
“When I was no longer dependent on him, for whatever reason, he couldn’t handle
it. That’s when he packed his bags and would soon be gone out of my life. But by
now, I was already hooked, said Denise.”
Now alone with two small children and a 13-year-old, she had a new task to find
a way to feed her addiction. Before she was buying drugs, Denise was the main source
of the household income. Her husband was working, but he would use his money to buy
Her money paid the bills, but when she became addicted, her money was no longer
for the responsible things. So, the relationship really ended when she stopped paying
the bills and the rent. Eventually, the family found themselves being evicted from
“So he just took his bags and left us behind in Camden NJ. He left me high
and dry with our two kids, one his kid and one of my own. So the kids and I went
to live with my mother.”
Denise’s addiction was getting worse. Now not only were her children brought
into to the addiction lifestyle, but her mother also. It was one night while baking
cookies with the kids that a “friend” stopped by the house. He showed her a big bag
of cocaine that he had stashed in a cigarette pack. She said seeing it distracted
her from baking the cookies.
She told her mom that she would be right back. Her mom said okay and Denise left
with the friend with the drugs. Her children were waiting for the cookies to finish
baking. The next time they would see their mother was four years later.
Denise explained, “I went to that friends house and it turned into an all nighters.
And, then it became a mission, because someone else came over with some more drugs
and I ended up going with them. And, somehow or another, I ended up in Atlantic City,
NJ. And, I spent a good while in Atlantic City meeting people. I got involved in
another relationship. And, it just kind of snowballed and before you know it, it
was four years later.”
It was an accident that brought her back. There was fire in her mother’s home
that one of Denise’s children had started. Ironically, all the time that she was
out there, she had prayed that it would not be tragedy that would make her go home.
“I know it may sound foolish to some, said Denise, but I prayed that prayer,
because I knew if something like that were to happen, the guilt would have riddled
me for the rest of my life. I prayed and asked God, even though I know I was wrong
and I was absent from my family---God had mercy on me.
My nephew found me in Atlantic City NJ and told me that the house had caught
fire. I asked him first if anybody got hurt. He said no, but you can’t live in Nana’s
house. He said the insurance company provided a trailer for her and the kids to
live in. It was that incident that gave me enough nerve after four years to call
home. After I asked was she alright, I said, mommy can I come home. My mother being
the type of mother she was, said, ‘You could have always come home.’
So I did that. I mustered up everything I had, because you’re dealing with shame,
humiliation and all the guilt. I went home and I was able to help my mother get through
that period, because she had been caring for my young children when I was gone. A
woman, in her late fifties, for four years, Mom would get them up 6 in the morning,
take them to a babysitter and while still working a job. She would pick them up at
6 in the evening.”
Denise said, that after coming home, she was still using. It wasn’t until 1994
when she met a man who truly was committed to her that her life would take another
Denise remembers the contrast. In the past, other relationships in her life
just wanted to do things to her, taking advantage of her. She said it was refreshing
to meet someone who generally had a heart to give her, to be there for her, and be
committed to her. After a year of courtship, she married her husband Marco.
She detailed the courtship. Marco wasn’t addicted, but he was committed. In
times when she needed money to pay the rent, he would provide that money, though
he knew she was still messing up her money. She wanted to be, just friends, but one
day he was acting funny. She asked him what the matter with him was. It was then
that he confessed that he was in love with her. She replied, “Didn’t I tell you not
to do that.”
“I had to realize that this man loved me in a way I needed,” continued Denise.
We got married and took me to Cancun Mexico for our honeymoon. And I was still using”
Denise says on their honeymoon because she couldn’t have the drug of choice
which was cocaine (she could have all the booze that she wanted) she began to act
out. She became so erratic that Marco had to call the front desk and tasked them
to come get this woman (her) out of their room. They didn’t come, but what came was
the realization that she really didn’t love the man. She loved what he could do for
her. It was a marriage of convenience.
“I liked that now I got my hair done; now I got my nails done said Denise. Marco
stepped me up a notch. But inside, I was still the same person, who had a craving
for drugs. He stuck with me. He wasn’t addicted. He was committed.”
It was one year after. Cocaine was accessible. She could get it because she
had the money to get it. She had gone into her upstairs bathroom, to do the drug,
like she had done so many times before, but on this day, when she ingested it, something
more than a kick to her brain happened. She could see her heart jumping out of chest.
She knew cocaine was a stimulant, she knew if she panicked, her heart may have stopped
Again Denise in her addiction prayed a prayer that wasn’t really for help. She
prayed that the Lord wouldn’t let her children come up the stairs and find her in
that state or dead. As she stood there and tried to calm herself she looked into
the mirror and said—this is it. This time she prayed, it was for help and deliverance.
And it was then, that she surrendered her will to the Lord and begins to pursue a
way for help.
“I said Lord Somebody is going to help me today” I got the phone book and the
phone and I went into the bedroom and I set on the floor. I began to research detox
and rehabs. All the places that I called every one turned me down for one reason
or another, reflected Denise.
Some said I didn’t have a court order to be there. Others said I was the wrong sex,
or I was addicted to the wrong chemical. And others said that entrance was based
on a seniority system. And those places that were considered all male said it would
have been a tough place for me to survive.”
Denise wouldn’t give up. She was convinced that help was coming her way that
day. She believed that desperate times do call for desperate measures. So, this is
when she opened the bedroom window and stood out on the roof. And shut the window
behind her so that her husband wouldn’t know that she was out there. She was just
standing out there out on the roof.
“I wasn’t going to jump explains Denise, but I was standing there because I
didn’t know what else to do. So I stood there on the roof of the 2nd floor of that
house. I knew this was the day that someone was going to help me. If they had to
put me in a straight jacket and carry me off to some place to be helped, that’s exactly
what I was looking for.
My husband had started looking for me and calling for me, but he couldn’t find
me and he stood out on the porch and called me but I wouldn’t answer. He was getting
desperate. “I guess it was the spirit of the Lord that told him to look up and see
me, said Denise.
He asked me why was I up there and to come down. I told him I’m not coming down.
I was going to get some help today.”
HE CALLED 911
“And imagine the people who responded to the 911 were people from your work.
These were people that you know—their sons and husbands. I worked in the school district.
I worked in the classroom teaching kids.”
Denise recalled being addicted so much that some of the students would bring
her drugs. The people who came this day were family of the people she worked with.
They knew her name. Seeing her on the roof they asked what was the matter. She told
them her problem. They assured her they were going to get her help.
And that was the blessing and that started the process. She was taken into a
rehab – it was a 90-day program, but after forty five days Denise was torn with a
different struggle. She explains that she had sought society’s way of deliverance
by going into a rehab. She began to feel a struggle between what God’s Word said
and society’s answers. So she yielded to the God again and went to the instructor
of the center.
“I thanked the instructor for all the help since I had been there. I told him,
I’m going back to my Father’s house and that’s when I went back to church and gave
my life back to the Lord, said Denise. And that was 11 years ago.”
THE STRUGGLE DEFINED
Denise detailed her struggle in the rehab center “The Word of God declares
who we are, how much God loves us, the purpose for our lives and all of that. In
a rehab they want to reprogram you. They want to give you and fill you with a lot
of medical terminology. They use certain logic and psychological perspective as opposed
to the real deal. Drug Addiction is a spirit. It’s a mood changing substance that
affects your spirit. Everything has a spiritual root, so you can’t treat a spiritual
problem with a natural remedy. So that’s where the struggle was. They were giving
me a natural remedy for a spiritual problem.”
Denise was raised in church from a little girl. Her father sung in church.
Her mom went to church. Her grandmother brought her up in church. She sang in church.
“Then you get up to a certain age, said Denise, and you get out there, and start
doing your thing.”
She had her first child at 16. Her father died when she was 21. So she lost
his strong strict influence in her life. Although he had instilled in her certain
ways that she says unto this day, she still hold on too, his hand wasn’t there, or
his watchful eye, so she deviated from things she was taught.
Today Denise is a minister, evangelist, church elder, devoted wife and mother
and other things. Things have changed quite a bit. She now works in a Christian
shelter ministry that provides shelter for homeless people regardless of why they
are homeless. The shelter provides a Christian environment, a safe haven with a short
period to give them Jesus. Some come in knowing about Jesus, so there’s a short time
to get them into a relationship with Jesus and that’s not always easy, says Denise.
Some come in just to get a few days rest, because they have been sleeping under the
bridge and need a place to get some hot meals, a bath and a safe place to sleep at
night. Some people come in because they are tired and they’re ready for help and
we are able to make some changes in their life.
Last October there was an audition for a children television program. “I wasn’t
thinking about auditioning, said Denise, “I read the flyer which said they were looking
for an African American grand motherly type of woman to play the main character and
I said to myself that’s me.”
Drama has always been an underlying passion of hers having performed with the
renowned Evelyn Grave Drama Ministry of Philadelphia. Her resume includes performances
as TheCrucifixion, and the Rapture.
Mimi’s House is based on a daycare in this African American woman home. Denise
plays the lead character Mimi. She says the show will affect children in a very positive
way. She says children today are so inundated with negativity. They see it everywhere.
They see it at home, at school, they see it on the street, and they see on TV & video.
This show is going to instill again some positive principles for the children that
watch and for the children that are in the show.
The show uses live children as oppose to the children in TV land. We have children
who are physically there, doing these positive things with Mimi. The children range
between the ages of three-and-a-half, six-and-a-half and preschool age. Children
will learn things like proper hand washing procedures and good manners. We bring
in different people who tell the children different things that they may know. For
example, some people may have a negative opinion of police officers, so we bring
in a state trooper who tells them about car safety and seat belt safety. He’ll read
a story to them. He’ll spend time with them on a personal level as opposed to being
a cop. He’ll come down on a daddy level or on an uncle level and share quality time
with them. There’s an episode that has people who come from the Salisbury Zoo, who
bring in animals that had been injured, but had been rescued. So we teach them that
you just don’t kill it, because it got hurt. You take it in and you nurture it, you
bring it back to health. You take it in and care for it in the state that it is in
as best as you can.
Another episode has a visit from an American Indian who shows different things
that he was able to do with things that we throw away. He went into the back yard
and picked what we call weeds and taught that if we were stranded we could eat these
to survive for a few days. So we teach them things that will broaden their understanding
and knowledge, as well as fun things like having an indoor picnic, when it’s raining
outside. She says the show, although using a script, is full of spontaneity and
open conversation with the children. The shooting and editing is done and the producer
and cast hope to see the show airing sometime in the fall. (editor note-the Miss
Mimi Show is currently on hold)
God has given Denise a passion to also minister to women. She uses her gift
to network “Because I am a woman, says Denise, I want to show other women how to
network. Women as a whole don’t network. I wanted to teach other women how to network.
I believe that when women come together with an idea we can birth that thing.”
Deliverer is how Denise most emphatically describes the Lord in her life. “Yes
He’s my Savior, He’s my provider, He’s my healer and He is so much more, but the
one personal word from Him to me is He’sMy Deliverer, says Denise. For if He had
not delivered me from something that I could not deliver myself from—I just don’t
know where I would be. All I have done in the past twelve years was to supply my
habit, to do what I wanted to do, and I ended in the places that I ended up, he had
mercy on me.
He didn’t allow me to come out of that HIV positive. I never have been in jail,
although I did things that would throw bricks at the penitentiary, if you will. I
thank God because He was my deliverer from everything that I had gone through.
The bible talks about a woman who had been bowed over for 18 years. The bible
says it wasn’t a physical thing; it was a spirit of infirmity that caused her situation.
Sometimes, we are gripped by the spirit of something that happened so long ago that
we are still stuck in a crippled place.
I thank God for it was not just enough to take the taste out of my mouth or
the habit out of my will, but I needed Him also to deliver me from the behavior.
The behavior associated with using. Deliverance is a process. It’s a continuation.
Yes, God delivered me from the active usage of drugs, but he delivered me from the
spirit of drugs.
I thank God that He is still doing that. When you are in addiction you have
a manipulative spirit. You have and—I want what I want, when I want it spirit. You
throw those tantrums. You can’t manage your money. These are things that God is still
helping me from.
Another sign of addiction can be impulsiveness. You have no intention to go
by drugs, but because you saw somebody or you smelled something, you thought about
some place where you were, next thing you know, you are out looking for a drug. If
you are not buying drugs, you might get mad or upset about something, so instead
of drugs you spend money on something for no reason at all.
God says in the Bible that you have to first believe that I am (God) before
you can even come to me (God). It’s like the prodigal son who got to the place that
the pig slop looked like steak and potatoes, but the father was waiting for him.
We are no different from that prodigal son in the bible. You can still come home
to our Heavenly Father’s house. It doesn’t matter where you have been or what you
done, you can still come home. We heard over and over before—Man’s infirmities are
God’s opportunity. God will bring you from the gutter-most to the uttermost and that’s
the success in Him. As long as you got breath there is hope. Deliverance is not only
where God has brought you out of, but where he has taken you into.”
“My images of the Father house, continued Denise, have always been the strong, loving
embrace of the waiting father.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about the gentle and warm smile of Denise McGirt as
Mimi waiting for the children to come in her house.