OCtech grad ‘transformed’: Woman says ‘I should be dead,’ but God stepped in
By DALE LINDER-ALTMAN
T&D Staff Writer
“My life is just amazing,” Amanda Cisco said. “I got my son back. I have two wonderful jobs that I love. I’m surrounded by family and friends who care about me and I’m completely restored in my health.”
When the 35-year-old single mom marches across the stage tonight to graduate from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, she’ll be taking a step into a future that’s been designed by God, Cisco said.
Nine years ago, she was homeless and hooked on oxycodone, crack cocaine and heroin. She was also desperately ill.
“I should be dead,” she said. “I was in an abusive relationship. I overdosed. I was shot at. I was beat up. I was walking in the streets drunk.”
“I was in and out of jail with misdemeanors and some felonies,” she said. “I ended up committing an armed robbery with my boyfriend and his brother. I took a plea and was sentenced to five years in prison.”
But her entire life changed in the twinkling of an eye.
“The first day that I was locked up, I was in Orangeburg (jail), on the floor staring up at a stainless steel toilet,” Cisco said. “I was sick. Oh, I was so sick. And I told God, ‘If there’s anything left redeemable in me, you can have it. I’m yours.’”
God came into her cell immediately, she said.
“The Holy Spirit filled the room, and He transformed me from that minute. That was Jan. 10, 2007.”
Cisco says she was a new Christian and “didn’t know much,” but she started reading the Bible and God gave her a verse, Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with everlasting kindness.”
“I heard it so clearly in my spirit,” she said. “I knew God was talking with me, so I just ran after God with everything. I gave Him my life.
“I knew I should be dead, but God saved me, and so he’s using me to tell His story now.”
Cisco spent two and a half years in prison.
During that time, the greatest lesson she learned was that “God had a plan for my life – good plans to prosper me and give me hope and a future,” she said.
“I learned he had so much for me that as soon as I let Him take over, He just went to town and changed my life,” she said.
In prison, Cisco soon became part of a crime prevention group, “Get Smart,” that visited drug rehabilitation centers, churches and schools and talked to kids about drugs and other issues.
As a member of the group, she realized that she has a passion for kids and speaking, Cisco said. She was released early from prison and within a year regained custody of her son.
Including the time she was on drugs, she’d actually been away from him for six years, but he was “not a bit angry” with her, Cisco said.
“He was craving a mother. It was kind of like, ‘Where have you been for six years?’” she said. “I’ve been completely honest with him. He knows the whole story.”
Cisco still travels around the state, speaking to various groups about her life and the changes in it, and she sometimes takes her son with her.
She’s held down two and three jobs while going to OCtech, but she’s careful to make one-on-one time with her son every week, she said. They do things together like going to the beach, watching movies or just eating out.
Cisco hopes to continue her education and eventually become a rehabilitation counselor. She wants to work with youths who are facing problems with drug addiction, she said.
As Cisco faces the future with optimism, she remembers her journey out of the darkness and says her dad, Brian Cisco, was the one who was always there for her.
“Everybody had pretty much given up on me,” she said. But he kept on praying for her.
“He said that when he would pray for me, he told God, ‘I don’t have any suggestions about what to do with her.’”
Her dad also prayed scriptures like Psalm 40:2 over her, Cisco said. “He would say, ‘Amanda waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to her and heard her cry. He lifted her from the slimy pit out of the mud and the mire.’”
Her dad visited her every weekend in prison and gave her godly advice that helped strengthen her faith, Cisco said.
She says her immediate plans are to take the summer off and work on finding scholarships and other funds to further her education.
Getting her associate degree was challenging both academically and financially, she said.
“I worked hard for it. I would just come home and get my head in the books.”
She made only two Bs during her school term and finished up with a 3.9 grade point average.
But Cisco said she’s not taking any of the credit.
Her life, her rehabilitation and restoration are all about God, she said.
“I don’t want any glory going to me. This is of God,” she said. “When it’s all about me, I’m on the front page of y’alls paper for bad stuff. But when it’s about Him, it’s for the better.”