Crime, loss, pain, struggle – and a miracle
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to his purpose.” This verse in the 8th chapter of Romans is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because I know that it is true, and I have seen it in my own lifetime and time again.
Which is why I want to tell you the story of Barbie Daniels, a friend of mine who I met about seven years ago at Maywood Baptist Church. Her story is similar to many who have come there from the drug culture. I could tell you countless stories of the lives transformed in that church in western Independence.
Barbie’s story begins on cold winter night in November 2012. It actually begins about 20 years before that when, as a teenager, she began dealing drugs and living a life of crime. In 1994, when she was barely 18 years old, she was arrested on a federal charge of aggravated assault. Normally those charges are brought in state court, but the charge against Barbie was part of a larger investigation into corruption and illegal activity in the drug world.
Barbie had stabbed another person with a knife in self-defense because the person was trying to kill her, so she was not convicted of that crime. Over the next dozen years, she faced charges for possession of controlled substances, possession of drug paraphernalia, tampering with a motor vehicle, possession of a forgery instrument and theft of more than $500.
Barbie continued her life of dealing drugs until that life-changing event happened in the winter of 2012. Through the rumor mill in the drug world, Barbie received word that she was on a hit list and that rivals were coming to rob and then kill her. On the same night at another house in Independence, three people were murdered in a similar event and Barbie knew they were coming for her. She had two young daughters, and so she took them to her mother’s house to protect them from the inevitable. Indeed, they came and took her hostage, which is when the first miracle happened, if you can call 27 officers breaking down your door and arresting you a miracle.
Barbie was arrested that night and taken to the Independence police station because she had warrants out for her arrest. They interrogated her and then took her to the Jackson County jail, where she stayed for the next few days. It was a transformative time because it gave Barbie time to think about what she had not only done to herself and her family but what she had also done to countless others.
Finally, she was released onto the streets of Kansas City, and she knew that the people who came for her a month earlier were lurking around the corner, so she needed a safe haven. She was walking down the street with a Bible in her hand. It was not hers, and she had not yet opened it, but she managed to secure a ride from a woman driving down the street. Her destination: The Healing House, a recovery house for women in the northeast.
That woman who took her was undoubtedly an angel of the Lord because on the short drive to the Healing House the woman told her about her two sons who had been destroyed by drugs, one of whom had been killed. Barbie was already thinking about the countless lives she had destroyed and her own daughters and so she went to the Healing House hoping for intervention and a miracle.
She remained at the Healing House for two and a half years. It was a tough life. She was required to have a job, but she had no skills other than making meth, counting money and doing drug deals. Those are not skills that lead to a good job. Early in her days at Healing House, she met Natasha Kirsch, a young woman working as a volunteer at the Healing House while getting her master’s degree from UMKC. Natalie gave Barbie a job helping her in the office, which was the first real job Barbie ever had. This interaction at Healing House with Natalie was transformative as you will discover in my follow-up column next week.
Barbie then found a job at a nursing home making minimum wage. Her daughters rejoined her at the Healing House, and she had to fight to keep them as the Family Court was proposing to take them from her. Natasha went to bat for her and saved her relationship with her kids.
Barbie did not have a car, which was a good thing because that would have given her the means to go back to her old way of life. Every morning, she would get up before the sun rose and take three buses to drop off her kids and get to a job that paid her $300 a week.
After two and half years at Healing House, Barbie moved back to Independence near Maywood Baptist Church as she knew that too would be a safe haven for her. One of the leaders there at the time was a man named Josh Monk. Barbie had known Josh in the drug world, and she knew if God could use a man like him, she had a chance.
This is where I entered the story. Barbie was trying to get a job at Heartland Behavioral Health as a drug counselor, but she still had those charges hanging over her head that she had been arrested on three years earlier. Bob Spradling introduced me to Barbie and asked if I could help her. In all things, God works for the good of those who love him. The best part of this story is coming ... to be continued.
Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.