We all know that most fairy tales are make-believe. They don’t often come true for most of us. But that doesn’t stop us from watching them with our children and passing the stories down from generation to generation. Why? Because they offer hope in even the darkest of circumstances. Alea’s* life began as a portrait of hardship. Her mother abused her — physically and verbally. She was raped by an uncle and not allowed to go to school. When she was just 12 she was forced to stay home and take care of her aunt’s three children. She cooked and cleaned, and says she felt like “Cinderella” — before “they lived happily ever after”. But it would be years before she got her “happily ever after.” Alea met a man and fell in love when she was 16. He was a drug dealer and even though she was against drugs, she stayed in the relationship. Eventually she even started selling drugs to make some support her family—a decision she regrets. Her life continued to spiral out of control. She got involved with gangs and gave in to the enticement of escaping the pain of her life through drug use. Over the next several years she continued to struggle with drugs, served time in jail and gave birth to three beautiful sons. Alea recognized her need for help and that’s when her “happy beginning” materialized. Alea came to Shepherd’s Gate to get the help she needed. Once she was settled, she started attending school, and although she’d been told she was stupid her entire life, she kept getting straight A’s. She decided to pursue a degree in nursing, and now her life — and the lives of her sons — have been completely changed. Instead of continuing a legacy of abuse and violence, Alea is setting a good example for her kids. She is living a true-life “fairytale” — a life that has been turned from the “rags” of abuse to the “riches” of God’s love. Alea’s life is one example of the opportunity that God has given us here at Shepherd’s Gate: to help people live out real-life fairytales. But, by God’s grace, unlike classic fairytales, their stories will never end. The day people meet Jesus is just the beginning. Do you know other people whose lives have been transformed? Maybe even your own? Or do you know someone who is living the dark side of a “fairytale” who needs to know there can be happy endings? Feel free to share your responses, thoughts and prayers in the comments section below. *Name changed for privacy.