Karina Lahood never wanted welfare, but because she was afraid she would lose custody of her five boys when she suddenly became a single mom, she felt compelled to go on government support.
After two years of striving to overcome her circumstances, Karina worked and earned enough to pass the wage threshold and get off food stamps, Medicaid and all other government support.
Ironically, through her hard work, she was worse off than when she got free benefits. She had to continue to build her business to make it into the clear.
“They make it so easy to stay in that system,” Karina says. “Jesus said that the government would be on his shoulders. I didn’t want the government to support me. I said, ‘Jesus I need you to rescue me.’ It’s a generational system. God doesn’t want you to depend on the government. He wants you to depend on Him.”
Many Christians believe that Christ’s mandate to care for certain vulnerable segments of the population should be carried out by government. Others, including Karina, see government usurping God and the church in the role of charity. When it comes to social care, the government is notoriously inefficient, they say.
“The government gives you so many benefits. If you’re not motivated, you will be stuck in the system,” Karina says. “In any life crisis, we become paralyzed in the system, you go comatose, you become a frog in the kettle.”
Today, Karina Lahood is a proud business owner placing foreign students in caring homes where they can sleep, eat and practice English with an American family while they attend language school.
Her life has been a long lesson of learning to lean on Jesus. Anna Karina Elisabeth Wilson was born to a Swedish immigrant homemaker. Many years later she realized she had a Christian heritage in Sweden; he grandmother was a Pentecostal Christian with a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.
Karina and her two sisters grew up playing on the “Tarzan swing” dad hooked up on the one-acre property in Arcadia, California. Dad was always busy running a taxicab business. Only later did Karina find out he was a functional alcoholic.
Her family only went to church occasionally and Karina wished it was more often, but when a half-sister came to live with them, Karina learned to smoke pot from her while in middle school. She excelled at swimming but without parental support, she dropped that and fell into rebellion.
“I was an emotional mess in high school,” she admits.
When representatives of the California Conservation Corps came to her high school, she got hooked on their logo: “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions and more,” she says. During the summer, she rode a Greyhound Bus to Angels Camp, California, where she worked environmental projects and responded to natural and man-made disasters.
The next year, she got her GED and joined a fire-fighting crew in the mountains. They cut fire lines, attended to fish and game hatcheries, tagged salmon, picked cones and dug fence holes in the Stanislaus National Forest.
“At night we partied and got drunk,” she says. “The state had night watchmen, but they didn’t really monitor anything.”
One friend drove drunk off a mountain road and died.
Sin demanded more and more of her attention. She had two abortions.
Going from job to job, neighborhood to neighborhood, relationship to relationship, Karina finally was invited to live in a Christian home with a the pastor and his wife and their six children.
“I couldn’t understand how someone with six kids wanted to have someone else live with them,” she remembers.
The pastor’s wife was very patient and loving and slowly brought her to Christ. In 1994, she married and started her own family. It was a picture perfect family with a house and a dog, but it was not to last.
Karina and her husband divorced.
“I felt betrayed, rejected and angry,” Karina remembers. “I had no vision. I only wanted our boys to feel loved and secure when my world was crashing.” Read the rest: She fought to get off welfare.