Shawn’s Christian Testimony

Chapter #1 of my Autobiography

This testimony is about how my life changed “instantly” one night in a hotel room as I hovered the edge of death while my whole life flashed in front of me.

These wonderful events happened during a time in my life when God was non-existent to me. My atheistic views fed a notion that “He” was nothing more than a theory in the imagination of weak-minded people, people who are starving for meaning and purpose in this dull and bleak world. But not I. I was not one of them, I was stronger than that and had all the answers and did not need a God.

This belief system turned out to be only half-truth, because little did I know, a series of events would happen, ultimately changing my view forever and bringing me face to face with reality.

Prior to these events, life at best held little meaning to me. So much had already happened to me as a child, things I had no control over. Things like, being given-up for adoption into a family who treated me like an outsider. Being forced to deal with mental, physical and sexual abuse and even racism by the ones who claimed to love me. It was a very difficult childhood in many ways and my sensitive nature did not make it any easier either. None of it made any sense to me so I gave up on the idea of a purpose filled life.

As a result, I concluded life to be too short to be concerned about such nonsense, nonsense about a living God I mean. Especially a God who would allow an innocent child like my self to go through the things I did and not do anything about it. Instead, I sought freedom from it all with a no-matter-the-cost frame of mind, and at the age of seventeen my search began that lasted nearly eighteen years. What I didn’t know though, was that those eighteen years would be spent digging a hole so deep that eventually I would reach a point where I would have only one direction to look – that was up.

In the latter part of my wandering aimlessly around the states, my past began catching up with me in a major way. I soon found myself unable to bear the painful memories of my childhood and looked to drugs and alcohol as a means of escaping. For many years, substance abuse became my God.

As time went on, I found myself in a serious state of depression and loneliness and eventually slithered into a recluse condition. I was a mess; haunted by an unfortunate past and left to deal with it all on my own and not understanding the reason why. The more my memories manifested themselves the more inflamed my reckless lifestyle became. I reached a point where drugs, alcohol and sexual stimulation controlled my life, every aspect of it, and everything I did evolved around them. From the moment I woke up, until I passed out, I was under the control of this artificial release; even my dreams were intoxicated.

Throughout my travels, I of course met many people but it was impossible to maintain a lasting relationship, not only due to the fact I moved around continuously but mainly because of my instability and loss of interactive social skills. I did not realize it at the time but I was swimming in a sea of depression. It was more than just a blip of abnormality; it was a chronic infection and it overshadowed me day and night. It was fueled by feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and worthlessness and any problems I encountered quickly escalated to nuclear size proportion. I was at the point where I did not want to be around anyone. I was a walking barrage of misery, inapproachable and unpredictable, and ready to implode at any given moment.

As years past, I increasingly became more dependent upon those things that were tearing my life apart; they became the norm and I found myself drifting coast to coast in search of them. And I eventually ended up in South Beach Miami, Florida, where I met a beautiful girl named Emma, from New Zealand.

Emma was able to touch me in a way that no one else had ever done so before and I quickly fell in love with her. She was away from home and her studies, traveling around the world and was only to be here in the states for a short period. Although I knew her stay was to be limited, I allowed myself to fall head over heels just the same. She was unfamiliar to me, but treated me so well, and seemed to overlook all of my flaws. I was shown the kind of attention by her that I had always longed for, and for a brief moment, while in her presence, I felt normal. When we were together, it seemed as if the darkness had lifted away from my life, and I could breathe again. However, that readiness did not last.

When it came time for her to move on, I couldn’t take anymore. My heart and mind were too weak to handle another person walking out of my life and the pain that was to follow would have been too much to bear. I had already convinced her to stay longer than she had planned, on a couple of occasions, but the time came when she had to go; there was no other choice. When that time reached its point, I lost what little control I had left, and on the night before, I overdosed on extra strength pain pills.

I was rushed to the hospital and spent three days in intensive care and another three days in the psych ward but eventually signed myself out against the hospital’s recommendations. When they questioned why I did it, I told them I had made a big mistake, that I did not want to die and that it would never happen again. I convinced them, and even myself, that I could handle the situation and did not need help from anyone; I was in total denial.

That episode sparked an accelerated downturn and I soon found myself speeding on that road of self-destruction, once again. As time grew, so did my depression, loneliness and substance abuse until it eventually ended up in Phoenix Arizona, the one last stop before my life would be changed forever.

I had been living in a hotel room for about a year and soon found myself not wanting to live again but this time, it was worse than before. The feelings of despair were stronger and I more weakened, and I spent countless days alone, drinking, drugging and contemplating the best way to take my life, but this time I would do it right.

Unlike before, I was not afraid of death; in fact, it would have been the ultimate relief for me, so I thought. I was so tired and just could not imagine anything else better but to “close my eyes and go to sleep.” I had completely stopped looking for reasons to live and searched for every reason to die.

The more I thought of my life the wearier it made me. My day-to-day routine became too heavy of a struggle. I felt bogged down in misery and did not have the energy left to carry on. I was a walking dead man on a path of hopelessness; I felt I was beyond help and there was no way out in sight. I had reached a dead end of it all . . . who knew that this would ever happen to me? That the hole I had dug for myself all the years past would finally hit its rock bottom. And on that night, while sitting in that lonely hotel room, the reality of it all came crashing down on top of me.

June 14th, 2002 – Phoenix, Arizona (approximately 10:00pm)

I was in the hotel room, alone as usual, drinking, smoking marijuana and crack cocaine; I had started around 4pm or so. After turning on the television, I noticed it left on a religious channel. This was odd to me because I never watched that kind of stuff, religion was nonexistent, to the extent that I did not believe I mean. I felt it was just another form of brainwashing, a way of controlling lives and their hard-earned money, and I wanted no part in it.

I did not put too much emphasis on why the T.V. was on that station. I just assumed the housekeeper had been watching while cleaning my room. Besides, I was not interested in watching TV anyway; it was just another form of distraction while getting high.

I went back to what I was doing and after awhile the television caught my attention once more. This time a female preacher was ministering. She talked about the world and the things that were happening at that time and went on to mention something about 9/11 and then related all of what was happening to end time prophecies. I guess this is why my attention was drawn initially; 9/11 was a traumatic time for the world.

She then went on to speak about things like heaven, hell and sin, but the more I listened to her the angrier it made me. It was sounding like nonsense to me, and I eventually got up and turned the set off before sitting back down to my cocktail of drugs.

Moments later, I caught myself daydreaming about what she had been talking about and briefly considered the possibility of some truth behind it. However, it did not take me long before I shook off the idea and laughed at the same time for even thinking of such foolishness.

Some time had passed before I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed thinking about my own life and the way it had ended up. The more I thought about it the more saddened I became. It all seemed so unfairly divergent to anyone else’s life I had ever known before and I asked myself. “Why is it that my life is the way it is and what did I do wrong that I am not able to change it?” No matter how hard I had ever tried, I just could not make any changes. (It took me some years to realize why this is sometimes the case . . . this is actually a blessing in disguise.)

As I thought more, I started feeling sorry for the way things had turned out. I began admitting to myself that I was an outcast and a failure. I presumed this to be the reason why my biological parents gave me up for adoption in the first place; I was some sort of bad apple, I felt.

I thought of how hard it was growing up as an adoptee and not feeling loved by the people who took me in, or like part of their family. I went on to think about all the trouble I was into and that no one cared enough to investigate the reasons why, but that I knew there were reasons behind it. I thought more of the loneliness that I had no choice but to live with, the sadness I suffered my whole life, and of all that weight I carried on my shoulders and how tired I was of carrying it.

I thought of my ethnicity and the labels the world gave people like me because of my mixed race, and not fitting in with my peers. I hated the names they called me, names like “mixed breed, mutt, zebra, half baked, yellow,” etc. I just did not feel normal in any way. I felt worse off than a dog and that I was no better than the slop swine feed on or the waste they tread underfoot.

I thought of how hard it was growing up in a town that hated interracial relationships and they hated me because I was a product of one. I felt it all to be unfair that I had no control over the way I was born or the life that I had been given. I would often ask the same question . . . “Why, why did I have to be so different?” I was, though, never given an answer.

No one loved me . . . I was sure of this. No one cared how I lived or what I was going through, and I knew this. Why? Because I felt it. How could it be though? How could the world be so insensitive? How could they not care when I was hurting so much? Couldn’t they see it? It was beyond me. However, the truth is that I could not see past my own pain. It made me want to crawl under a rock and hide from it all. And in addition to all that, unbeknownst to everything else I was going through, I realized my addictions.

I had become addicted to crack cocaine, alcohol, sexual stimulation and even depression. These were major strongholds on my life and I hated myself for it. It was then when I realized I had truly hit rock bottom, but somehow, I felt like that bottom was where I belonged.

I sat there realizing I had reached my destiny and it would never change. Why? Because it wasn’t meant to. I imagined myself being born as an example of someone else’s mistakes and left to suffer for them the rest of my pathetic life. There was no way out of it. I was convinced of this. No matter what anyone said, or did, it would never change, not one single thing would ever change because this is where I was meant to be.

I hid my face into my hands and felt the unfairness of it all. I did not have a chance from the moment I was born, I thought. I still couldn’t understand the reason why, either. I was innocent and didn’t ask for any of it. Why me? What had I done? I kept asking myself these same questions repeatedly that night.

I thought of the times I tried to make a change but didn’t make progress. It felt like something was holding me back; I just could not break free. Every time I put one foot forward, the force of that something pushed me three steps back. I tried – I tried many times to move forward but no matter how hard I tried, I found myself beating against an unrelenting wind.

I filled with anxiety and finally stood up and began pacing back and forth around the room while keeping in deep thought. After some time, my attention fell upon the Holy Bible that had been sitting on a nightstand next to the bed. It had been collecting dust there for as long as I had been living in that room and until that moment, I had not considered reading it.

(Here in the States, a religious group called the Mormons left bibles in motel rooms across the country . . . it is an American Tradition)

Strangely enough, I remember at least on one occasion I threw it into the trash only to come back later in the evening to find the housekeeper had taken it out and placed it back on the stand. I also remember wanting to get rid of it on several occasions but for some reason, I either forgot or just became preoccupied. The only time I ever gave any real thought to it was when I ran out of rolling papers.

Anyway, as I sat on the edge of the bed staring at the Bible, the desire to pick it up became even stronger. It was an unusual feeling to say the least, as I said before, I never gave it consideration. Nevertheless, I finally gave into the urge and picked it up.

As I took it in my hands and randomly opened it, it turned to the book of 1st Thessalonians . . . but reading it was a task. I realized I was too intoxicated to understand anything written down. Nonetheless, I stumbled through a couple of paragraphs trying to comprehend. “This is a waste of time,” I said. I could not remember one single verse from the other. “I am too high,” I said. However, the urge kept me trying.

Suddenly, one part of a page jumped out at me with clarity. It talked about all kinds of sin and the consequences of them. Everything about my immoral life style, it seemed to be mentioning. It went on to explain how detrimental this lifestyle is, and one in particular screamed at me – the sin of sexual immorality. It all pierced my heart definably.

As I was reading all of this, it was becoming uncomfortably clear to me that the way I was living my life was wrong. I understood it exactly, and it was a deep understanding as well. This understanding went deeper than anything I had ever understood before. It was as though the effects of the drugs had stripped away and my mind had opened to its core. Indeed, it had.

I can’t put it into better words, to explain to you exactly how I felt at that moment, but believe me when I say it; it was a powerful perception that could have only come from God.

As I read on, it talked about many different types of sin and I realized that every one of them mentioned played a major role in my life, a controlling role. I felt as if God was talking directly to me in admonishment for the way I was living.

When I realized this, I increased with sorrow and shame. It was the most uncomfortable feeling I had ever experienced in my whole life and it was at that point when I realized just how unclean I was in the eyes of God. And immediately upon acknowledgment of this, I opened up, pleading from the bottom of my heart, “GOD IF YOU ARE REAL THEN HELP ME.”

As soon as I uttered those words, at that exact moment when they left my lips, my heart opened even further, and for the first time in nearly five years I began to pour tears like a baby. I had never cried like that in my entire life. It was as if the floodgates to my heart had exploded and the water rushed through my eyes as if rushing back to where it came from.

I became weak all over my body, and lightheaded to the point I had to lie back on the bed. As I tried stopping the flow of tears, the more I resisted, the heavier they persisted. I soon stopped fighting and allowed them to pour. I cried my heart out that night.

A long time went by as the tears continued without ceasing, then, the even stranger happened. I started having flashbacks of my past. They were vivid images of things I had done to myself and to others. It was as if a film projector from within my mind was replaying parts of my life. They were projections of bad things I had done and went back as far as my childhood. Some of these visions were of things I had forgotten all about; they were of every evil thing that I had ever done in my life.

My whole life was flashing in front of my eyes – one vision after another – they just kept coming. First, the vision and then the memory of it followed. They kept coming and coming for what seemed like an eternity and there were so many of them.

At first, I was at awe by it but soon afterward it freaked me out. It was very disheartening and emotionally overwhelming to see these memories replaying in my mind and I had no control over them. It was as if I was reliving my past.

As the visions continued, my heart began beating rapidly and I became short of breath. I was to the point where I was fighting to breathe, and then I became even more afraid. I realized in the deepest part of my spirit that this was an act of God. He suddenly became very real to me, more real than any tangible thing in this world. I felt the fear of death for the first time in my life that night. I knew that at that point I was dying and these memories of my past were my judgments and the reasons why I would be spending eternity in hell.

A dreadful and inexpressible feeling of fear overwhelmed me right then. My heart, my mind and my entire body was entrenched with anxiety. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life. No words can express the level of fear I was going through. It was not natural, I assure you. It came from somewhere far more terrifyingly empty than any place here on earth and wherever it is, that fear was definitely a product of it.

Moments later, I fell to my knees beside the bed and began to pray but all I could say was, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and “please forgive me.” The more I pleaded, the heavier the tears flowed.

After some moments, I sat back on the bed and reached for the bible once again, still trembling. As I picked it up, I began reading more. This time I focused on the next page. It no longer talked about sin or the condemnation of sin but talked about a way out of it through Jesus Christ and God’s forgiveness through him. And as quickly as all that fear came into me, it left and was replaced with an inexpressible feeling of joy, hope and promise.

Once again, I was enveloped by an indescribable level of emotion but this time it was very positive. My entire body submerged in a positive pool of emotional illumination. I cannot express it, but to say that the level of fear and shame I felt moments before was replaced tenfold by the joy I felt then. It was more amazing than anything I have ever experienced in my life . . . I wish I could walk in that feeling forever . . . it was truly amazing. I then went back to my knees beside the bed and closed my eyes to pray.

(I must stop now and explain something that is very important, because later on, I realized the significance. God did something else amazing.)

I grew in a small town back in the Midwest, in a southern Baptist Church. The name is not important but it taught that all “white people” were devils, among other false doctrines. Do not misunderstand me, not all Southern Baptists churches believe this way, it was just a deceived mind of the pastor of that particular church. What he believed was totally opposite of who and what God is. God is of love and loves us all the same without discriminating and more than what our minds are able to conceive.

Nevertheless, I remember growing up as a child thinking how it would be possible for half of me to go to heaven and the other half to hell . . . it was quite confusing and I quickly lost interest in the church and in God.

My point is this: no one ever taught me the correct ways of God or what the Holy Bible was really saying. No one ever taught me how to pray for forgiveness or that I should ask Christ into my heart. I did not even know what it meant to accept Christ into my heart. But that night, while I was on my knees the second time, I suddenly knew exactly what I should pray for and what I should say. It was as if God had planted the words directly into my heart, as I know he did.

The words came to my mind exactly like in the book of Romans 10:9.

. . .if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

It was not an audible voice, but more like a knowing. It was as if I had always known the way to salvation, as if it had always been inside of me my whole life. In a sense, I guess it had been. It has always been in my spirit; it’s in all of our spirits. Thus, I spoke those words with belief and with expectation.

After I prayed and confessed Christ as my Lord and Savior, I immediately felt a warm sensation enter into my body. Once again, it is difficult to describe the feeling but it was like a gentle electrical sensation, like pins and needles but softer and it filled my entire body from head to toe. Every hair stood up on end. (I later understood exactly what that sensation was . . . it was the Holy Sprit of God.) At that point, I was being changed from the inside, from deep within. All the way to the core of my existence, I knew it, because I felt it.

At that moment, I knew God had just entered my life and He was there to stay, to never leave nor forsake me. He had made a permanent home in my heart that night and I knew from that moment on it would never be the same again, nor would my life be.

Upon realizing this, I stood up and felt as if I were floating on a cloud of air, as if my feet were not touching the floor. All the heaviness, all that weight I had been carrying around with me my whole life had suddenly disappeared. It vanished in an instance. I felt a hundred pounds lighter, no, two hundred pounds lighter, as though the world lifted from my shoulders. I had been changed, made into a completely different person – a new person. It was as if I had been reborn – spiritually transformed.

Needless to say, the visions faded away completely. My mind cleared and there was no sign that I had done any drugs that night. Upon realizing all of this, I began crying all over again but this time they were tears of thankfulness.

Everything about me that night was replaced with newness. I knew that I just become a child of the Most High God and He was real and I was glad He was real. Furthermore, I knew that the God of love and compassion was about to lead me in a very new direction.

As I cried out, thanking him for what he had just done, I realized, or better yet, I was given a sense of release from everything that had kept me in bondage for so many years. Not only was the weight gone but also I knew that along with it went my addictions. Those chains that bound me had broken away and were gone forever. I knew it without a doubt; those controlling strongholds I had lived with most of my life, the depression, all of it, they were gone, gone forever. And indeed they are.

It was an amazing night; God miraculously changed my life in a blink of an eye. I realize now that He took me to the brink of death, let me feel what hell is like, and showed me all the reasons why I deserved to go there. He then brought me back from it all and offered me a reason for living, a reason for change and a second chance with him through Jesus Christ.

I find it hard to express to you how much this all means to me. But I was an atheist, at best an agnostic, even to that night, to that very hour to be exact. I even cursed God and hated anything to do with him. I was a thief and a liar and filled with thoughts of lust and deprivation.

I overflowed with anger, hate, depression, and hopelessness and was even suicidal but God loved me just the way I was and waited for the right moment to take it all away from me. In doing so, He did allow me to dig a hole so deep that I would hit rock bottom at which point I would have No Other Direction to look but up. He never forced himself on me, but waited patiently while conditioning my heart to receive him, and for that I am deeply in love with him.

It took me going to hell and back in more ways than one but you may not have to go that far. You can ask him right now to come into your life. He will remove from you whatever it is that is trying to destroy you.

You may feel like your life is just perfect, that everything is falling into place just the way it should be but if you accept Christ in your life it will be so much more profitable and so much more meaningful. More than you can ever imagine.

Amen.

Shawn

5 thoughts on “Shawn’s Christian Testimony

  1. Princeton Pillay

    Thanks for sharing this with us Shawn.. May God the Father of our Lord Jesus bless you in your walk.. whatever you went through is encouragement to us and a call to those who are living on the edge

    Reply
  2. janetjean

    It’s terrible that you had to go through such traumatic experiences but God can use it for His glory and honour! Your testimony hopefully will reach others who have similar experiences! God bless!

    Reply

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