Jennifer Beagle has been abused, molested, trafficked, arrested, addicted to multiple drugs, alone, homeless and hopeless. Except for Jesus, her timeline sounds like a reality show. Only it’s not staged. She survived 24 horrific years.
She lives a new truth now: It’s never too late to repent and follow Jesus. And sometimes God takes us back to unlikely places to tell someone else it’s not too late for them, either.
Beagle, 50, specializes in hope. She gives it to children who have been trafficked, women who have been used and abused, to ex-cons, addicts and everyday people who cross her path.
She knows how it feels to live without hope and how it feels to be forgiven and loved by God.
Beagle describes growing up in a “typical dysfunctional family” with an alcoholic dad and abusive mom. More than once she saw her dad play Russian roulette with a gun aimed at her mom’s head.
There were no safe places to hide.
Her “Uncle QB” molested her when she was 7. By 12, she was fighting at school. By 14, she was in foster care, and she ran away at 15, hitching rides on semis to work with horses back and forth between Ohio and Florida. At 19, Beagle married Jerry, a country boy twice her age, and had a son.
He wanted to settle down, but quiet was foreign to Beagle. She got a job in a bar, divorced Jerry and married an abusive man. By then, her 3-year-old son tried to take care of her on days she was too hungover or beaten up to leave the couch.
Life went from bad to worse when Beagle discovered the new high of cocaine. Eventually, she ended up on the streets, sold by an abusive handler named Bobby. QB was one of her customers.
Too many things happened in 24 years to chronicle.
She finally came to the end of herself while hiding from Bobby in a closet one Sunday morning. Her hard heart was broken by the words to “I Can Only Imagine,” a song by MercyMe playing on a radio somewhere: “Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel, will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of You be still, will I stand in your presence, to my knees will I fall, will I sing hallelujah or be able to speak at all. I can only imagine.”
Beagle left the closet and walked into a local church. There she heard that God loves her, is ready to forgive her if she asks and will never leave her.
“I knew in that moment that I didn’t have to live this way anymore because of Jesus,” she said. “I met Him at the altar of that church. Even then, I knew God could do something with me. After the service, I walked into town knowing I could be arrested because of my felony warrants and went into an AA meeting.”
Beagle was arrested, but jail time gave her a chance to lean into Jesus, read and pray. When released, she went back to the church to volunteer, listening to worship music as she cleaned bathrooms and floors. She just wanted to be in God’s house.
“People at that little church loved me. I walked in with velvet clothing and stilettos, but this great group of people embraced me,” Beagle said. “They nurtured me and taught me how to be a lady. I started my first outreach with them, taking Bibles to my friends on the streets.”
Men and women who knew her on the streets were shocked to see the change in her life. They listened to her story because they knew where she had been.
A few years later, Beagle believed God wanted her to go back to those who abused her and tell them about Jesus. It seemed crazy, even risky.
She went back to the trailer where QB first purchased her. When he seemed shocked to see her again, Beagle told him that God sent her to talk to him.
“I love Jesus today,” she began. “If He can forgive me, He can forgive you. I forgive you. He will, too.”
Soon both were crying.
QB said he wanted to know that kind of forgiveness and freedom. Beagle and QB prayed that God would forgive his sins.
Beagle never saw QB again, but four years later, she heard that he was in the hospital and called his room.
“I hear you’re not doing so well,” she said. “Do you want to pray together?”
So, they prayed. Once again, QB told Jesus he was sorry for all his sins. He died soon afterward.
Several years later, Beagle started Downtown Ministries in Gainesville, Florida, to feed the homeless. She was stirring grits for some 300 homeless men when she heard a familiar voice say, “What’s up, Nat?”
Natalie was Beagle’s street name.
She saw Bobby, the man who sold her for years, sitting on a cement wall, eating grits out of a plastic bowl. He was dirty and alone. She no longer saw him as her handler. All she saw was a broken man.
“I froze in my tracks, set my spoon down and walked toward him,” Beagle said. “I felt God say, ‘Do you want him to see how scared you are or how much I’ve delivered you?’ So, I sat down next to Bobby and told him what God had done in my life. I prayed for him to find hope and peace through Jesus.”
A month later, Beagle heard Bobby was dying. She took three friends to his hospital room to pray for him. She told Bobby if God could forgive her, He would forgive him, too.
Bobby prayed with Beagle before he died.
Beagle moved to Kentucky in 2018 to be near her son and grandkids.
She attends Southeast Christian Church and now works with Safe Passage, a nonprofit that supports trafficked and high-risk children through Christ-centered, trauma-informed and specialized services, which are relevant to trafficking recovery.
Her message to those who have no idea if God sees or cares is that if you give God the broken pieces of your life, He will give you the chance to be all He created you to be.
“My feet have been in a lot of different places,” Beagle said. “But God restores and redeems. He is so kind, so good and everything to me.”