The Sentence of Death

by Joey Hartmann

Have you ever felt there was no hope for you in this life? Have you felt like you were born into this world with the wrong sex? You find yourself in prison with no hope of escape. The cry inside becomes louder: "God you messed me up! Either change my mind or my body or get me out of here. I hate you. I want out! I just want out, PLEASE!" You even try suicide.

This is the story of a young woman, born to parents who wanted a boy after having two girls. She strove to please her parents, for the next twenty years trying to be a male, even reaching the point of talking to doctors about having a sex change. Her struggle for identity became an ominous war, dragging her down in stages of despair. She engaged in lesbian relationships, trying to satisfy this raging war inside.

From the age of nine, Janiece was exposed to drugs, sex, and rock and roll. She became confused. She witnessed orgies and saw the perversion in sexual intimacy. She watched the cruelty of young teenage girls flirting with the boys, teasing them with sexual overtones, then just walking away. She was constantly around men who just wanted their satisfaction in sex, then "goodbye baby!"

During her teen years, the drugs increased, together with rebellion against any form of authority. Often, in times of anger, she blacked out, waking each time in a different place and wondering what she had done this time. She saw evil spirits, heard them talking, but the doctors passed it off as hallucinations. She went from using illegal drugs to heavy prescription drugs.

In high school, Janiece was the first girl to be in the Print Shop class. Her dream to be just like her dad thrust her forth in occupations held mainly by men. She was the first woman in San Antonio, Texas, to become an electrician.

It was then that she discovered the reality of the Jesus Christ. But in the process, she met up with the religious crowd, "having a form of godliness, but denying the power" (2 Timothy 3:5), and she left soon after. "If these are your people," she said to the Lord, "then I'm out of here!"

At about this time, a back injury at work provided the trade officials their needed excuse to blackball her. She then entered the printing trade. While working alongside her father one day, cleaning the press, her right thumb got caught in between the rollers of the press and it smashed bones and flesh all the way up to her shoulder. After years of surgery, skin and tissue grafts, and therapy, the arm was functional again, but the traumas of the past had caught up.

Janiece spent the next seven years in and out of mental institutions, her parents given authority by the court to be her guardians. Finally, after the doctors had given up all hope for her because her brain cells were dying, she was placed in a home for patients with terminal illnesses. Her family tried to make things as comfortable for her as they could during these years, but in the end, there was only one thing that made the difference.

One day her sister challenged her, "Do you want to be sick forever?", then left her alone. She decided, "No!" and called out to God for help. She realised that Someone had heard every cry and seen every tear. There was Someone who understood and who was faithful to her - Someone who as able to pull her back from the sentence of death.

That was the turning point for Janiece. In the four years that followed, God brought her from a place of despair and certain death into the fullness of life. She is now fully recovered, happily married and a dedicated member of City Church at San Antonio. She is a woman who has experienced the transforming power of Jesus. And what does this have to do with me? Her name is Janiece Hartmann and she's my wife!

If you would like to meet us, click here and if you would like to meet the Jesus who made such a difference in Janiece's life, click here.

Source: Joey and Janiece Hartmann, San Antonio, Texas.