From drugs to redemption: Lindsay Holloway’s story

March 19, 2018

At the age of 24, Lindsay Holloway, a Baxter, Tenn., native, was arrested for the possessing and selling of stolen weapons; addicted to IV drugs, she faced 10 years in federal prison and $1 million in fines. Holloway is one of the rare few who have escaped a destructive life and yet returned to her former peers to offer them hope that they too, can escape.

It wasn’t always that way. Holloway, 31, grew up in a middle-income, church-attending family. Her parents divorced the same year she became a Christian, at the age of 12. But there were greater spiritual aspects at play in Lindsay’s life.

“I felt like I had to perform to be accepted,” she said. Throughout middle school and high school, she had joined a combined total of 14 clubs. In high school, she started partying.

“By 16, I was doing meth (methamphetamine) with friends,” she said. “But I didn’t have to ‘perform’ for them.”

The slippery slope

The last semester of her senior year, she dropped out of school. She had learned how to cook meth. Four years later, she had graduated to IV drugs and was addicted to painkillers.

“Pills were mental and physical––without pills I was sick. You had to feed the addiction to get out of bed to do anything productive,” Holloway said. “There was nothing I could do about it.”

In and out of the court system, she said that she didn’t really want help.

“I was convinced I was worthless, and I couldn’t do any better,” she said. “People look at us, at junkies, like we’re worthless. Drugs do not discriminate.”

It was a spiral that led her to contemplate ending her life. One September day in 2010, Holloway caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror while applying her makeup. She had planned to “accidentally” overdose that day.

“I saw that I was dead, there was no life in me,” she told me, struggling to maintain composure. “I prayed, ‘Lord, come save me, or I’m going to come live with you.’”

Soon after, federal police knocked at her door to arrest her. Normally, she would have fled, but she immediately knew it was the Lord intervening, Holloway said. She received another gift of grace while at court. An aggressive prosecutor aimed for the highest sentence, she said, to use her as an example to other Middle Tennessee drug users and minor criminals. She was facing 10 years in federal prison and $1 million in fines, at the age of 25.

The gift of a second chance

But the insight of her intake director at her rehabilitation program, Kristy Pomeroy, saw her potential. Holloway was admitted to the Nashville- and Chattanooga-based Next Door program, which eventually helped her “get clean” from drugs, strengthen her faith, and launch her back into a life that was looking up.

“I never had people who knew my past, and knew what I had done, and still looked at me like God did,” she told me.

Holloway prayed, and said that the next time she returned to court, she had a new prosecuting attorney. This one had looked into her case and told her to “keep up the good work” in rehab, knocking her sentence down to two years of probation and $2,000 in fines.

Soon, Holloway began sharing her testimony to anyone who would listen––women at a “halfway” rehabilitation house, to churches, and elsewhere.

“It rose up even more hope in me because he was seeing me as a person and not seeing me for my past,” she told me.

When she returned home, she met her now-husband, Derek, a former addict who had also recently moved to her hometown after spending several years in prison––during which he had earned his carpentry certificates and become a licensed minister. The couple has found that their ministry’s impact has doubled with their collective testimonies and miraculous meet-cute.

A woman with a mission

In the Putnam County Jail, where Lindsay spent time, about 90 of the 380 inmates are women, who collectively live in a space built for 32, according to the ministry’s website. The jail has about an 86 percent recidivism rate, meaning that nearly nine out 10 inmates return due to another crime after being released.

While Holloway began serving the jail through her church, Life Church, she quickly was offered leadership opportunities. At the end of 2017, after nearly two years, she had officially launched her own nonprofit, This is Living Ministries, which aids women affected by incarceration and addiction to gain life skills and spiritual freedom.

“‘Once an addict, always an addict,’ I don’t believe that––that’s not what the Bible says,” she said, pointing to the fact that her desire to return to her old habits is “totally gone.”

Currently, the program collects clothing for former offenders in a five-county radius in Middle Tennessee, aids them in applying to halfway houses or other transitional programs, funds bus tickets or other transportation, and is fundraising for their own women’s halfway house since many programs are out of state, Holloway said.

“I want to teach these girls what it took me five and a half years to learn,” she said. “Women who come right out of prison have no safe, clean environment to go––usually because they’ve burned most of their bridges. They have no life skills.”

She helps them with their budget, their resume, their job applications.

“The girls all know me from my past––they know me from my bad reputation,” she said. “Some of them don’t even recognize me (when I speak at the prison), because I look and carry myself differently. Now, they’re drawn to Derek and me, because of our stories . . . Having lived it, the girls know I’m not asking them to do anything that I haven’t already learned the hard way.”

Dreaming big

Another arm of their ministry is helping women with their desires to be better wives and mothers, through custody support, child services support, and biblical teaching. And the results are exciting, even months into her work.

“One of the girls I first used (drugs) with is now full of the Spirit,” Holloway said. “I personally drove her to Michigan to go to treatment. And now she’s coming back (to Tennessee) to help with the ministry. . . . The Lord’s returning a lot of my old friends, and now I’m getting to see their lives prosper.”

Holloway is praying and planning for a greater capacity to serve Middle Tennessee. The plan for This is Living Ministries is to be filling needs to rehabilitate 40 women—whether that’s housing, job training or basic needs to get back on their feet. Her husband also desires to open a men’s house in the future.

“The Lord chooses those that are unqualified and makes them qualified,” she said. “It’s him, not me, and it brings more glory to him.”

For more information about Lindsay’s work, to donate, or to contact her, visit her website or contact her.

Kara Bettis

Kara Bettis is a Boston-based reporter on topics of faith, politics and culture Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24