198 Testify: Monte Mansfield and Sthefania Milhilli at 2024 Testify Congress

198 Testify: Monte Mansfield and Sthefania Milhilli at 2024 Testify Congress

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We’re back with more highlights from the 2024 Testify Congress.

Last month, in Pasadena, California, The Salvation Army from around the Western Territory joined for an event focused on teaching, training and motivating Salvationists to tell the story of Jesus more often and to more people. 

And the sessions featured, you guessed it, testimonies from programs and ministries of The Salvation Army across the West. 

Today, we’re sharing two:

First, you’ll hear from Monte Mansfield, a one-time professional athlete whose life was forever altered by substance abuse. Eventually, he found The Salvation Army through the Adult Rehabilitation Center program.

Then, Sthephania Mihilii, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico in second grade when her single mom married. She rebelled in her teenage years and then became a lifeguard at a Salvation Army Kroc Center.

So allow me to introduce to you today, Monte Mansfield and Sthephania Mihilii—who each took to the stage live after the screening of their video testimony.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

* * *

Monte Mansfield: I had a really good childhood. I gravitated towards sports. My junior year of high school, I started throwing the fastball from 85 miles an hour to about 90 to 91 miles per hour. I have hundreds of messages from pro scouts, and I’m being recruited by all these colleges. I decide that I’m going to play pro baseball no matter what. I entered Riverside Community College for one season. We won the national championship, and now I was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 16th round of the Major League Baseball draft. My first two years of pro ball go super well. The next season, I started drinking, trying to become the person that I wanted to be. Playing professional baseball, you can stay out all night, you can sleep all day, you can party, and all you gotta do is perform every single night at seven. I had a great car, I had a nice condo, I was making good money.

I was able to move on up through the minor leagues all the way up to the level of AAA. This is the level right before the big leagues. The thing is, as you start to get older, you can’t have all the energy to be able to do that lifestyle. I was asking one of my teammates, you know, how come all the guys in the locker room right before the game, they get all fired up? And he handed me a pill, a 30 milligram Adderall. I was so focused and I was so calm. I struck out 10 batters during that outing.

I’m thinking, I just found the miracle drug. Fast forward, I’m 32 years old. I’m completely out of professional baseball. I’m now playing in Canada in the independent leagues because my addiction to Adderall has gotten so bad. I’m now smoking marijuana all day long. I’m now hooked on Oxycontin. I thought if I got out of baseball and I would be out of that lifestyle, I could get clean and sober. But I’m waking up every single day with no purpose.

Seven o’clock game time isn’t there for me no more. Living this world of everybody telling me yes, right? It literally transforms to the whole world telling me no. I end up going and gravitating to harder drugs. And then I start to become homeless. And then I start to commit crimes to be able to feed my habit. I remember being so miserable and I broke down in tears. I’m a former shell of the pro athlete that I used to be in my life.

I’m now running from the police because I had received a felony. I remember thinking, the guys in prison eat better than me. The guys in prison have a bed. And I turned myself in to the Ontario Police Department. I was in jail. 90 days in, I went to court and the judge sentenced me to The Salvation Army. During my time in the Adult Rehabilitation Center, I learned so much about life. I learned how to work again.

I learned how to wake up early. I learned how to function again. I started hearing about the Savior, Jesus Christ. I started hearing about the gospel. I started implementing a prayer routine and I was able to reflect and see where God had pulled me from. And I just continue to stay obedient to God’s plan. I graduated on May 1st, 2020 from the San Bernardino Adult Rehabilitation Center. I end up meeting Laura, who is my wife now.

We now have been hired as Corps Ministry Assistants over here at the El Cajon Corps. I’m learning how to just become a better person every single day, becoming more Christ-like. We both actually decided that we would follow God’s call to become Salvation Army officers. My wife and I are in the application process. The Salvation Army has done so much for me. The Salvation Army introduced me to Jesus, and The Salvation Army is the family that I stay connected to.

Five years clean and sober. My dream would to be able to serve in this ministry, serve every single day, no matter where I go, be God’s hands and feet, bringing others from the dark to the light.

* *

Sthephania Mihilii: My name’s Sthephania Mihilii. I was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I was with my mom at the hospital and then my birth father left. Never saw him again. So I grew up with my mom and her side of the family. My mom came here to the US to look for a job and that’s when she met my dad, Nino, or my dad now. And he came to Mexico to come get us.

I came here, they put me in school, second grade, didn’t know English. When my siblings were born, we hadn’t been like a typical father-daughter relationship in a long time. I wasn’t affectionate, but he was. He doesn’t treat me any different or whatnot, but it was just like this self-conscious type thing that it was like, I’m not like biologically his kid, so like maybe he sees me differently.

Then when I turned 16, I was fairly rebellious. The typicals of like drinking, smoking, hanging out with the wrong crowd, partying a lot, seeking like attention in the wrong places. And then I became a lifeguard here at the Kroc Center. My family and I used to come here as more like a community center. Sixth grade Stheph would come here for like piano classes. I would help with my little brother to do the swim classes.

Captain Caroline, she invited me to Anthem. She was telling my dad like, Steph should go. And my dad’s like, yeah, you’re going. But I did not want to go. And at that point, I was like, nobody talked to me about Jesus. I don’t want to hear a thing. God is always mentioned as like the Father. It was just very hard being like, I’ve always had difficult relationships with dads. But everybody was so happy and jolly. And I was like, Ok. My cabin leader, she was just so like Jesus, and just radiating Jesus. And I was like, wow, I want to be like that. I started crying during the worship and just started really feeling the songs and the Holy Spirit was really like working in me and like making things move. So when we were going home, I just had like a huge like anxiety attack. And then I started praying. And then I just felt this like, comfort come over me and that was the moment I fully knew like God is real. He’s here. I feel him move and I just want to be obedient. I went to Rev High without any knowledge of what it is. I just knew I was called to go. And then I went to Korea for service corps. God answers your prayers and I asked him to clean me up.

helped me get rid of these harsh feelings towards my dad. He opened up the door to my birth father, meeting my older sister, and that kind of made me view my dad more like, my goodness, I have such a phenomenal dad. I’m sorry that I was a difficult teenager. So it just made me feel even more appreciative of my dad. So it allowed me to see God from a different point of view.

And now I’m working at the Kroc Center as a team mentor. I love being able to be a comfort place for the girls and the teens at Teenite. And just thankful for God putting the right people at the right time. Jesus is just working in our family, and I’m just so happy about it because we’ve all been through a lot. And now we’re all starting new seasons together with God. And I’m so grateful for that.

  • You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now.

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