How God snatched an ice addict from hell
Andre’a Simmons shares what brought her back from the brink
Andre’a Simmons was two years into an ice addiction that had robbed her of everything – her life, her mind, her family, her finances and her health – when God snatched her from a living hell.
“I said ‘you rescued me, Lord.’ He said ‘No, I snatched you!’ I’m still in awe of how people later said to me ‘that’s a biblical word,’” says Andre’a of the day God pinned her to the ground in front of an abandoned church and told her to get up and go home.
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Having married young and raised two children, the Brazilian-born businesswoman left her husband and family when she fell head over heels in love with a new man and moved to Melbourne with him.
“I just shut down and I remember going into the blackness and going into the dark and I couldn’t take a breath.” – Andre’a Simmons
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With little exposure to drugs as a young woman, she had no idea of the danger she faced when her new boyfriend persuaded her to smoke some ice. Having one smoke of the drug sucked her in and she soon became addicted. Two years later, she weighed a skeletal 40kg, was bleeding from her kidneys, her hair had fallen out, she had broken front teeth and was stealing in order to be able to eat.
“I was living in another realm of existence, it was psychotic, it was like a hell,” she tells Eternity.
One day, her drug dealer gave her a drug called G, a depressant drug, and without thinking Andre’a took it, and stopped breathing.
“I just shut down and I remember going into the blackness and going into the dark and I couldn’t take a breath. My boyfriend was shaking me and slapping me on the ground, saying ‘breathe!’
“I remember my dad told me when I was young, ‘if somebody’s drowning and they go down in the water three times, they don’t come back up again.’ And I went into the blackness for the third time and I thought ‘I’m dying.’ And I remember deep in my soul reaching out and saying, ‘if there is a God out there, forgive me for who I have become and what I have done and please take my soul.’”
I thought ‘oh no, it’s going from bad to worse – I’m seeing a light, I’m getting pinned down by a force, now I’m hearing an audible voice! I’ve lost the plot.’” – Andre’a Simmons
When Andre’a woke up later in the back room of her house in Hawthorn, vowing not to do that again, she still hit up that night then crashed for four days. When she finally woke up, no one was home. She had no cigarettes, no drugs and couldn’t reach anyone on the phone. As she anxiously paced the room, wondering what to do, she saw a little bit of light peeping through the curtain.
“Let me paint this picture. I had pawned everything in my house, the walls are blackened out with smoke of ice up the walls, the windows are blocked out with curtains and plastic and tape because I was convinced the police were after me and they had cameras – there was a whole psychosis thing going on.
“But one of the curtains moved a bit and there was a bit of light coming in – the sunray – and I went, ‘oh, it’s only outside.’ I never went out during the day. It was scary because I was convinced the government were chasing me, so I don’t know what possessed me – well, I do know what possessed me, it was God.
“I put on my runners and I started walking and I walked across the back of where I lived, there was like an oval, and I went to the end of the oval and I ended up at this vandalised church. There was graffiti and timber locks across the doors, and the concrete pathway to the church was all cracked and broken … I walked up that broken, cracked pathway and I thought ‘who does this to the house of God? What disrespect!’
As Andre’a looked at the top of the church building she saw a cross in a circle and realised it must be an Orthodox church. As she did so a cylinder of light came through the cross and over the top of her.
“Every time Jesus appeared, he was closer to me and I could see his tears and I could see his love …” – Andre’a Simmons
“At that minute, I was pushed down by a force to my knees and then slapped on my face … And I’m crying and I’m thinking ‘what is happening to me? I’ve had way too much drugs!’ But it was very real because I couldn’t get up. I was held down on the ground and tears started streaming down my face and I started pleading with the force – ‘please let me go. What is happening? I’m going crazy!’”
As she was yelling out to be released, Andre’a noticed that people walking past were taking no notice of her, so she began to think she was in an alien cylinder and aliens were going to hijack her. But then the force released her but only to her knees.
“I sat on my knees in this light that was so amazing and so peaceful and so bright and I said ‘please let me go, what do you want with me’ – between the tears. And God spoke to me and he said, ‘get up and go home, my child.’ If I had to explain to you what his voice was like, it was like a male, gentle, stern, loving – it was the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard.
“But I thought ‘oh no, it’s going from bad to worse – I’m seeing a light, I’m getting pinned down by a force, now I’m hearing an audible voice! I’ve lost the plot.’”
When she heard the words again “Get up and go home, my child,” she realised God was speaking to her and she said “Go home to what? I’ve got nothing to go home to.” As she crouched into a foetal position, crying “I can’t do this anymore, I’ve got no more strength,” God said to her “I will give you strength.”
“At that instant the light disappeared, I was released and I stood up and I knew exactly what I had to do. It was like I was in a trance. Now I know I was filled with the Holy Spirit instantaneously, but at that time I didn’t understand.”
Discovering that she had just $76 in her bank account – the exact amount needed for her airfare back to the Gold Coast – Andre’a got herself to the airport with the help of an old friend.
“I thought, ‘man, I haven’t heard from the Lord for a long time now, he hasn’t spoken anymore, why?’” – Andre’a Simmons
“I got to meet Jesus at the airport. I just kept following this amazing energy and voice that kept talking to me. There was so much love coming from it. I had no choice – I just followed,” she says.
“As I went to go on the plane the most extraordinary thing happened to me – it was like the life got sucked out of me. It was like my spirit got sucked out and I just collapsed. And I lost my vision. I collapsed on my suitcase and I couldn’t see anything; and then all of a sudden I began to see it was like a movie, a showreel – it was silver, black and white image – and it was Jesus carrying the cross and I’m looking at this and saying ‘what has this got to do with me?’ He said ‘you’re carrying your cross and I’m with you. You’re carrying my cross and we’re one. And I will never leave you or forsake you – I’m with you.’”
This happened three times on her way to get on the plane, until she was helped onto the plane by a cabin crew member.
“Every time Jesus appeared, he was closer to me and I could see his tears and I could see his love and I could see the pain and I could see everything – just an amazing amount of love and tears and blood and his face was closer and closer each time … it was like I was living the cross.”
I say, ‘Lord, you do it. Holy Spirit, take over, and say what needs to be said.’” – Andre’a Simmons
For the next six months, as Andre’a went through detox and rehab, she says Jesus was leading her every day – “this audible voice followed me for six months, every minute.”
But when, six months later, she thought she was strong enough to go and save the man she loved in Melbourne, she relapsed back into ice addiction and stopped hearing God’s voice.
“It took another four months and one night in the middle of the darkness I thought, ‘man, I haven’t heard from the Lord for a long time now, he hasn’t spoken anymore, why?’ And I went ‘Lord, please, I need you; look, I’m worse than I ever was before and I’m in so much trouble and I need you – please help me, I need to get out of this place.’ I begged him for hours on my knees in the blackness of the night and after what appeared to be hours, the Lord spoke and he said ‘Get up and go home, my child.’ I said ‘Yes sir!’ And I turned around and I just took off and I never looked back.”
About a year and a half into her recovery, overcome with gratitude for how God had turned her life around, Andre’a told the Lord that she wanted to serve him. And after receiving backing from the Federal Health Minister she set up AAIC – the Australian Anti Ice Campaign, with a brief to educate and warn young people about the dangers of the drug.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, but I say, ‘Lord, you do it. Holy Spirit, take over, and say what needs to be said. You’re leading, this is not my vehicle, I’m just a vessel.’”
On September 3 AAIC will be launching an anti-ice army to encourage people to come together to fight against the forces of darkness behind the ice scourge.
“Every single Australian can be part of the change and a small $10 contribution a month can help us educate every youth in Australia and they can email an e-book where they get all the information to educate themselves and their children and family about the dangers of ice and what it does to people,” Andre’a says.
“It’s going to take God’s people to stand together because we can hear his voice and we can actually follow his direction, without question. It’s not me or what I say, it’s what he says. So I’m opening an invitation for your church; if they want to be a part of this, I’m very eager to meet you.”