Her life didn't have such a great start. Pamela Winderweedle Hillman was just a little girl, 5 years old, when her father sexually abused her.
Later, the abuse would continue from other men in the family. As Hillman grew older, she was introduced to drugs, and she found this helped deaden the emotional pain she was feeling from the abuse.
This pattern continued into Hillman's teen and adult years. She became a cocaine addict. She became a prostitute to wealthy men. She tried suicide at 26 and later came to Christ that same year.
But the drugs had a hold on her, and despite Hillman's desire to get free, she was not able to do so by herself. She was in and out of jail for drug offenses and then, in 2010, she was sent to prison. That ended her 35-year cocaine addiction, and she has not had a drink or drug since the day she entered prison.
Hillman got free in prison. Really free. She began teaching other ladies. They got free.
Before long, the Daughters of Zion were having church in the prison. Hillman was their leader and mentor. Today, she has a prison ministry called LifeChangers Legacy. She was released from prison after 18 months and now has an international prison ministry.
A Drug Addict in Minnesota
Mike Lindell grew up in Chaska, Minnesota. In his teens and early 20s, he tried every imaginable job. Each one failed.
Lindell had trouble sleeping. He once bought a $70 pillow, hoping it would help him sleep. It didn't. Then one night, he had a vision
In 2004, the idea for MyPillow, a pillow that would hold its shape, came to him in a dream. "[I] got up in the middle of the night and had 'MyPillow' written everywhere in the kitchen and all over the house," he says.
One of his daughters came upstairs to get a glass of water and asked, "What are you doing, Dad?" Lindell says he told her, "I've got this idea for this pillow. It's gonna be called MyPillow. What do you think about it?"
Her reaction still makes him smile. "She goes, 'That's really random,' and she went back downstairs to sleep."
Lindell dove in headfirst, convinced the dream came from God. He and his son, Darren, spent hours cutting up foam and testing configurations before they came up with a pillow that would hold its shape. Mike taught himself how to sew—"I didn't know how to thread the bobbin"—and he converted an old hammer mill to cut up the foam.
Eventually, Lindell had made several dozen pillows, and he went to the local Bed, Bath and Beyond. "He said to them, 'I have the best pillow in the world. How many would you like?' And they were like, 'OK, you need to leave.'"
A relative suggested Lindell set up a kiosk in the mall. "I said, 'What's a kiosk, and how do you spell that?'" he says. He borrowed $15,000 to set up a kiosk during Christmas, but sold only 80 pillows. However, one buyer was a man who ran a local home show in Minneapolis. Lindell said the man was so impressed with the pillow, he invited him to come to the next show.
Lindell says, "That's when sales started to take off. We sold out."
But Lindell had begun using drugs at an early age and eventually became a cocaine addict. It got so bad even his drug dealers refused to sell to him when they found out he had not slept in a week. He was a 25-year cocaine addict.
On the night of Jan. 16, 2009, Lindell says he offered up a prayer. "God, I want to wake up in the morning and never have the desire again." He was convinced that God had bigger plans for him because his business was starting to do well. "I woke up the next day—and you've got to realize this is years of crack addiction—I go, 'Wow, something's different,'" he says.
Lindell says that was the beginning of his sobriety. His desire for any form of cocaine "was just gone."
Soon, Lindell started taking out print ads telling his story, and then he had another dream: Make an infomercial. But even that endeavor had its own strange path to success. The night before the first taping, the producers discovered Lindell wasn't good at reading a script. "So, we just went live the next morning with no teleprompter ... and I just ad-libbed it," he explains.
It apparently worked. "By the end of the year, we went from five employees to 500." The company now has close to 1,500 employees, many of whom have his personal cellphone number in case something goes wrong.
Over the last six years, Lindell estimates he's spent $100 million on infomercials. The results? He's sold 40 million pillows, and revenues have grown from around $100,000 a year to close to $300 million.
Lindell fully committed his life to Christ in 2017 and is now an inspiration to many.
God Uses Chocolate to Connect Two Unlikely People
This past February, Hillman was walking through the hallway of the hotel where the Presidential Prayer Breakfast was being held in Washington, D.C. She turned to her husband and said, "I think I want some chocolate."
Hillman had just completed a 30-day fast and had not had chocolate during that time. She and her husband went upstairs, and she said, "Hey, that's Mike Lindell." They walked over and introduced themselves, and she thanked Lindell for his pillow that she credits for helping her neck pain. She said she should be his spokesperson.
Her husband told Lindell, "I've heard your inspiring story. But you should hear a little of Pamela's story."
After Mike heard Hillman's amazing story, he said, "There have been two divine appointments for me while I have been here. You are the second. I never do this, but here is my cellphone [number]. We need to talk."
A few days later, they did talk. It led to a meeting at Lindell's headquarters. They are now partnering to help those who are in prison and who struggle with drugs. Mike is using Pamela's I See ME Free one-to-one mentoring program in his drug treatment program.
What are the chances?
Os Hillman is president of Marketplace Leaders and author of TGIF: Today God Is First devotional and author of 18 books.
For more on how God sets people free from addiction, listen to the podcasts included here from our "Addicted" series on Charisma News!
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