The ladies served by the nine-month residential program for women with life-controlling problems now have the opportunity to see firsthand the effect the ministry can have on a life. Each day, Transitions Assistant Director Angel Laderman proves to the women under her care that there is life -- a successful, abundant life -- after the chaos and destruction of addiction.
"You think when you are in that mess that no good can come of it," Laderman told Transitions residents gathered around the dining room table at a recent Bible study. "But I was sitting over there where you are sitting, in that seat."
"They say I can relate to them because I have been where they are," said Laderman later. "It makes a difference to know the person you are talking to has been through what you are going through. You can know something is possible forever, but until you see it ... it is hard to really believe it. I can look back now and see how God has brought good out of (my) mess."
Laderman first came to Transitions as a resident on Oct. 9, 2009. She was a woman who had hit rock bottom through the cycle of addiction, herself. An addict who had "gotten into some trouble" with the law and destroyed relationships with both her children and her parents. She hoped Transitions could make a difference in her life and help her find some solid footing.
What Laderman found was a Solid Rock on which to stand -- a relationship with Jesus Christ and proof of His redeeming power. She also found the desire to allow Christ to direct her path.
"Before I came here, I knew there was God," said Laderman. "(I knew) Jesus was His Son and He died on a cross. But I didn't know anything about having a relationship with Christ before I came here. I learned things here that I would have had to attend Sunday school for 20 years to learn. I've been listening a lot to T.D. Jakes lately and God doesn't waste anything. When I was in my addiction, I couldn't see how anything good could ever come of it. But through that, I am able to do this job that I am doing."
The path back home to Transitions wasn't straight, but Laderman's desire to give back to the community who gave her a second chance has been apparent in each position she has held since walking through the doors of Transitions that first time.
"I worked at the Mission when I was a resident here. I worked there about a year," said Laderman, who was named manager of the Dyersburg/Dyer County Union Mission Thrift Store shortly after she moved out of the Transitions house and began to live life on her own. "Then, I went to The Inn for Matthew 25:40 and helped them get that facility up and running. I came to Transitions (as assistant director) in February."
While Laderman continued to thrive outside the protective walls of Transitions, she reconciled her relationships with her children and with her mother and father.
"I am thankful that both my parents got to see me turn my life around," said Laderman, who has suffered the loss of both her mother and father within the past year. "(They) tried to get me to take this job. And when I left The Inn (and took this position), I moved back home to help them."
Although she didn't remain at The Inn to run the program, Laderman said she can see the hand of God in that service, and in the path that led her back home to Transitions.
"I can see all the people that I got connected with at The Inn, that I am connected with for life," said Laderman. "I have made a connection with people I really need and have needed (in this position)."
And because she knows, firsthand, the struggle of the broken women who seek to change their life through the Transitions program -- because she has lived through the fears hidden deep in their hearts herself -- Laderman knows the words these ladies need to hear the most.
"I tell them their addiction doesn't have to be what defines them," said Laderman. "I tell them, 'When God get through with you, it will be what drives you.' It is awesome to really see that happen in your own life. You think you are the only one. You think everyone's problems aren't as big as yours. We tend to think 'Nobody has this problem as bad as I do.' When it's yours, it is different. That is another reason it is important to share your story."
Laderman's history provides another unique advantage as she leads the program's next generation.
"It helps to know what they have been through, but it also helps because I can sometimes know when they are up to something," said Laderman, who said she showed her inside knowledge at a recent Community Bible Study meeting. "I said, 'Well, I guess I'd better go so I can get these girls back.' And the lady I was speaking to said, 'How will they know you are ready?' and I said, 'Oh, they are watching me.' And they were. When I stood up, they all started gathering their things. I knew because I had been there, where they are."
Laderman's new role has brought an added appreciation for the women who mentored her in the Transitions program, as well.
"Being a resident, I knew I got close to the women who work at the Transitions house," said Laderman. "But (from my perspective), there was one of me and many of them. Now, all these girls are like my girls. They are like your kids. I've heard Mrs. Clara (Silliman, Transitions resident manager) say that, but now I understand. When something bad happens to them, it is rough. But when something good happens for them, there is a lot of joy in that, too."
Laderman's journey has brought her full circle, and back home to a place that helped her change the direction of her life. For the newest Transitions employee, that is yet another blessing in her new life.
"It is definitely a blessing," said Laderman. "God has definitely used this place to change my life."
Transitions of Dyer County serves women with life-controlling problems by providing a structured living environment leading them to transition into a responsible life. A transforming ministry of Jesus Christ, it exists to help these women become changed through His unconditional love, grace and mercy. The goal is to provide a program that will effect a change in lifestyle, leading the participants to become positive, productive members of the community.