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Debbie Castellanos: From hurt to healing

God’s rescue plan for our lives can sometimes take unexpected turns that are hard to understand. Sometimes we hold ourselves back from fear or circumstance, but God never tires in pulling us from darkness and into His healing light.
For senior Debbie Castellanos, coming to ORU to study psychology and education was part of God’s rescue mission for her life. Originally from Mexico, she was raised by her grandmother after her biological mother gave her up. She later moved to Texas in the United States, where she spent most of her childhood with her grandmother and adoptive family.
“One person who just means a lot to me is my grandmother,” Castellanos said. “I always talk about her because she was the one who introduced me to God. Even though I didn’t know that God was Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, three in one, she still, from very little, told me the Word of God.”
Castellanos was not treated well in her adopted home, but God walked with her through every mistreatment she faced. Her grandmother also continued to encourage her as she got older.
“She took me to church, and she told me that anytime I had trouble, just to talk to God,” Castellanos said. “I think part of the reason that I got through coming out of that home, and just being able to honor and respect them in that moment, was because I would just go into my secret closet and cry out to the Lord, knowing that at least someone did care for me: God.”
Castellanos is a transfer student from the University of Texas at Arlington. She went there because it was a short commute to her home in Texas, but God soon offered a chance to experience what it meant to be a part of His family.
“I feel like the plan for me to be at ORU, I think this was His rescue plan for my life; this was His turnover place for my life.”
After coming to ORU, God began showing Castellanos His healing power regarding her past.
“I believe that part of the reason why I’m studying psychology is because the Lord really cares to heal and to really go into the deep areas that you think are impossible to reach,” Castellanos said. “I’m learning that even a mother rejecting or denying a baby in the womb is actually bad for the child, and I’m just thinking, you know it all makes sense.”
While studying at ORU, Castellanos has been given the unique opportunity to understand her past and see a brighter future. She received the spiritual support and love that she needed and is still learning what it means to be adopted into God’s family.
“ORU is a special place in my life, because there hasn’t been a single person from the bookstore to maintenance to faculty to student leadership who hasn’t sought to encourage me and uphold me. Everyone has been so intentional. It’s like a new culture for me to experience,” Castellanos said. “Little by little, I began to trust my professors and trust my ORU community.”
Much of Castellanos’ rescue mission is still underway, God is still healing and teaching her about her identity in Him.
“If I could tell someone who is coming here [as a] new [student], I would let them know that yes, I understand that you may be coming from a hard past, but I would just encourage them to be vulnerable with the people God has placed in your life,” Castellanos said. “Like even the counseling services on campus that are free, or even with your professors, or with student life. They all have training to help you become the better you.”
Castellanos loves spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and knows that her story is part of Jesus’ and the salvation He offers. She is excited to one day be more transparent about the work God is doing in her life.
“There is a Bible verse about guarding your heart but also there’s a Bible verse about being the body of Christ. Take advantage of going to the prayer tower and actually just stay still, and know that He will speak to you. Just listen to God’s voice.”