Cheri Shope of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, has been a follower of the Hallelujah Diet for nearly 12 years and a Health Minister for almost eight. She's a daily BarleyMax consumer and enthusiast, an avid believer in always having her salad box stocked and the founder of a Hallelujah Diet support group on Facebook that has grown to nearly 1,500 members. But the journey wasn't always an easy one and at one point, Cheri found herself nearly giving up. Here is her story:
From the Beginning
Eighteen years ago, Cheri began experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks, seemingly out of nowhere. In the beginning, she could barely leave her home let alone get out of bed in the mornings. Cheri described these days as extremely scary, not fully able to wrap her head around why her life had gone from normal to terrifying in just days.
"The doctors only wanted to medicate me to mask the symptoms."
"I spent thousands of dollars going from one doctor to another, looking for answers and help," she said, reading from her personal testimony. "But help never came, and neither did answers. At least not from the doctors. Every doctor told me the same thing and every doctor wanted to mask my symptoms with medication."
The last doctor that Cheri saw told her that he could do no more for her and that finding a psychiatrist would be in her best interest. It was at this point that a friend pointed her in the direction of Hallelujah Diet. Though she immediately went out and bought a juicer, it would be several years before she would fully be immersed in the diet. When Cheri and her mother took a trip to the Hallelujah Acres Lifestyle Center in Tennessee 10 years ago, it finally clicked.
"Being able to experience the diet and lifestyle made all the difference for me," she said.
The trip was inspiring and empowering and Cheri returned home ready to make changes. Her mother even purchased her a Needak Rebounder Soft Bounce with Stabilizer Bar, which she used quite often.
An Uphill Battle
Though Cheri continued the Hallelujah Diet back home, she was still struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. In February 2009 she learned Hallelujah Acres was coming to a nearby city for a Health Minister training program that month. However, her panic attacks were especially bad when she drove on the freeway and she knew that the hour and a half drive to the training was going to be difficult. When it came down to it though, she got into her car and made the drive.
"I knew I had to do whatever it took to get myself there," recalled Cheri, reading from her testimonial.
On the way to the training, Cheri experienced a severe panic attack in the middle of rush hour traffic in Seattle. With no place to pull off, Cheri recalled thinking she was going to die right there on the highway.
"I didn't think I was going to make it to my hotel that evening," she said. "But by the grace of God, I made it there safely."
After checking into her hotel, still shaking, she opened her devotional this was what she read:
We must never cease believing that God cares about those in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual prisons. Jesus the Lord has anointed you to preach good news to the poor, He has sent you to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners…
Cheri ended up running into the one woman from Health Minister training staying at the same hotel as her. This woman invited Cheri to travel to and from training with her each day, saving Cheri from the agony of driving herself. Though she considered going home, she is happy to look back and know that she stuck it out and got through the training.
"I am so thankful that God sent this woman to help me, just like my devotional said, 'God cares,'" Cheri read. "I knew I was supposed to be there."
Bringing it All Together
As soon as she got back from Health Minister training, Cheri started a Facebook group. The Hallelujah Acres Diet & Lifestyle – Support Group started out with just two or three people. So many times though, Cheri came close to giving up. She felt as though she was not truly helping and recalled even asking another Health Minister to take over at one point. But whether she knew it or not, Cheri was spreading the word and helping others to turn their lives around.
Each year, the social media Hallelujah Diet support group would grow a little bit more. Today, there are 1,432 members – people that Cheri has come to build relationships with over the years, many of whom she considers really good friends.
The goal of the group is to share inspiration, tips and knowledge. Pictures, recipes and articles are also shared frequently in the space.
"It's great support for me too," said Cheri. "Just because I'm a Health Minister doesn't mean I have it all together or that I'm perfect. It's nice to be able to have people to talk to."
The panic attacks eventually began to subside and in December 2011, Cheri was able to return to work.
"For me, the healing process was not fast," said Cheri. "It took a long time to get this state of health."
In fact, on top of everything else, Cheri was diagnosed with sciatica in 2015. Again, doctors provided her with few answers and one even told her that she would never feel normal again. After nearly two years of suffering from the pain, Cheri began taking Hallelujah Diet's Magnesium Complex and Serrapeptase. Today, she no longer needs to wear lumbar support belts and estimates that her lower back is between 95 and 99 percent recovered.
"Switching to a healthy lifestyle is simple, but it's often not easy. I know, I have been there," she said. "But I can tell you that it does get easier and you will get stronger. "