I grew up listening to Ray Charles. I remember staying up late to watch him sing “Georgia on My Mind” on the Midnight Special back in 1976. I always loved that song. What a surprise it was to meet Ray’s daughter 37 years later at a small Baptist Church just outside of Columbia. She shared how her life had consisted of:
- 21 years of a crack cocaine addiction
- 5 children from 4 different fathers
- 3 times in prison (4 1/2 years)
- 3 crack cocaine addicted babies (one of which was born weighing 14 oz)
Sheila shares, “When you are a product of molestation, it is hard to believe anything good about yourself. I lost my babies, my career and my voice. I didn’t want to live another day and try to get myself out of the pit of hell I had created. I didn’t care that people said. If you kill yourself, you’ll end up in hell … I was already in hell.”
It was when Sheila was in that prison cell, that she met Jesus. “I can direct your path, but you’ve got to die to some stuff … give me all your pain … all your shame … all your secrets.”
“But I don’t know how to give it to you.”
“Just lay it down … I’ll forgive you as you die to it. (2 Cor 4:11) I’m going to take all your bad stuff and I’m going to give you all my good stuff and then I’m going to send you out into the world to tell others.”
Today, Sheila, together with her husband and brother, minister in prisons and Celebrate Recovery meetings throughout the United States. Sheila’s story is one that needs to be heard and shared. So today, International Women’s Day (March 8th), I want to celebrate the fact that God’s hand of grace is not too short to rescue Sheila or ourselves.
Sheila’s story has both inspired and moved me. What has inspired you recently? Click here to post your comment.
P.S. I’ll be speaking at the Evangelical Missiological Society tomorrow (March 9th) at 11 am at Columbia International University on the subject: “Sexual Addiction in Missionary Personnel: Is There Hope?”. Let me know if you would like to attend.