CJ Blair: God's Glory in the Ghetto
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
CJ Blair grew up in an inner city neighborhood. His mother worked on the streets, and the only father he ever knew was her pimp.
“There was no one there to really nurture me and keep me from some of the ills that you encounter just living in the city of Washington, D.C.,” he tells The 700 Club.
Before long, CJ was selling drugs and running with gangs. He says, “My motivating factor was to get my mother off of the corner. When you present an opportunity for me to make $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 a night, then I’m connecting that to my mother [not] selling her body and getting beat up by men.”
But there was a bright spot in the young man’s life. He spent summers at his great-grandmother’s house, which had a totally different atmosphere.
“My great grandmother believed God for everything. I mean, everything. If it was bread, if it was rent money, whatever it was, she believed it. So she would line me up every night on the side of the bed. She’d be praying, and she’d be blessing and God keep them. And I was like, ‘Wow, this woman is serious.’ She would never speak as negative about me as the rest of the family. She would always say that I was a man of God and God was gonna do it. She spoke that in me.”
His great grandmother’s influence was strong, but CJ wasn’t ready to change.
“I really was scared of hell, and my grandmother really hammered that home. But I knew becoming a Christian was going to take me leaving the lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to. So I wasn’t going to play with God.”
CJ dropped out of school and at the age of 13 was arrested for the first time on an assault charge. He spent the next 12 years in and out of jail. After serving a six-year prison sentence for robbery and malicious wounding, CJ got out and went into the rap music business with some guys he met in prison.
“I was in the studio one night, and the studio engineer began to talk about Jesus. He said, ‘Well, if there’s a Jesus and you haven’t accepted Him, and you die, you’re going to be short.’ It really started weighing on me. God began to deal with me at that point.”
A couple of weeks later, CJ was driving home from a major drug deal.
“I’m listening to this rap group, and the rap group says that they have 'triple six platinum currency'. At that point, it triggered what my great grandmother had told me years ago, when I was 8, 9, about the Antichrist. So immediately I said, ‘I’m going to hell,’ and it was like a bolt came in the car and burst inside me. I threw my hands up off the steering wheel. I began saying, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah!’ While I’m rolling, I heard Jesus say – audibly, like I’m talking to you right now – ‘CJ, take it out.’
“I popped the tape out of the tape deck. The guy on the radio said, ‘Do you know what miracles are?’ It was God speaking through that individual on the radio station, speaking to me.
“I’m scared. Next thing I know, my hand is grabbing the coke and throwing it out the window, everything that was in that car, the cigarettes, the marijuana. I remember saying to myself, ‘This better be Jesus, because I done threw away all this money, and these folks is going to kill me.'”
When CJ got home, he went down to the basement.
“I began to pray. I had never prayed as an adult like that. The next day, my mother was like, ‘What happened? What was wrong with you?’ I said, ‘I’m saved.’ I just knew that was what had happened.”
CJ turned his life over to God. He enrolled in Bible college and got rid of his guns. But for an ex-drug dealer on the streets of D.C., he was vulnerable. It wasn’t even safe for him to get a haircut.
“At that time in the inner city, a lot of young people were getting killed in barbershops. So I would face the door and if anything came through the door to do harm to me, I was going to get at it before it got at me.”
While CJ was getting his hair cut, the dealer he owed money to walked in.
“This individual was not somebody you wanted to play with. He was a gangster. He would kill you on sight. When he comes through the door, I automatically reached for the gun, but I didn’t have the gun. The guy walks up, and he says, ‘I heard you’re with Jesus now.’ I said, ‘Uh, yeah.’ He said, ‘Pray for me.’ He turned around and walked out. That was a blessing, because God really spoke to me, told me I can protect you.”
Today, CJ is a pastor and does outreach in the streets where he used to hustle drugs. He says, “I think people need to see people that have made mistakes, but have at one point said yes. Jesus just came and changed their lives. I live a good life as a result of the gospel, as a result of the purpose that God has instilled in my life.
“I represent the guy that was rebellious, the guy that went to prison, the guy that’s been shot, that did all the wrong things. But I show forth His glory, because when there’s one word from the Lord that’s interjected in your life, all your paths can change.”
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