Embraced by True Love
By Tim Smith
The 700 Club
CBN.com - “When I was 5 years old, I was taken away from my mother - myself and four other siblings,” remembers Shana. “We were put into foster homes. We were separated.”
No one told Shana Joseph why she couldn’t be with her mom, or why she and her sister lived apart from their siblings.
“We weren’t allowed to eat at the table. We had to stand in a corner and eat bones. They didn’t give us food like they gave the other children.”
She took out her pain and frustration on others.
“I was getting into a lot of fights. (I was) very angry. And a lot of it had to do with the fact that I missed my family. We had visits to go see our family. Most of the visits my mom never showed up. So that made me very angry. My grandmother would come, my aunt would come, but my mom wasn’t there.”
After five years, Shana and four of her brothers and sisters were reunited when their grandmother gained custody of them. By now Shana had become withdrawn.
“If had toys, I played by myself. I didn’t really want to be bothered with anyone. The thought of my mother, my family, was always on my mind.”
Shana was smoking pot at twelve years old, and soon joined a gang. She was always on the streets, and that’s where she learned the truth about her mother.
“…That my Mom was on drugs. Everybody on the street knew. My friends, they knew about it. She’s the reason why we were taken away. That made me angry.”
At thirteen, Shana overdosed on pain pills.
“Even at a young age, I knew it’s not what I want. I have friends who, they had good families and I was jealous of them. They had their mom, they had their dad, people who cared about them. Their family would come to school to see them in a game. But nobody showed up at my games. Nobody said ‘Hey, Shana, go ahead, keep up the good grades, I’m proud of you.’ I never heard an ‘I love you’ at all.’
The next thing Shana remembers is waking up in the ER, having her stomach pumped. After she recovered and was released, she went right back to the streets. When Shana was 15, she met Marland, a member of an up and coming hip-hop group called Sporty Thievz. As they became serious, he started taking her to his church.
“He really loved me. He was always with me, you know, and he actually was the one who introduced me to God.”
Eventually Shana got pregnant. They planned on getting married, but it would never happen. One night, Marland was walking near Shana’s home when he was hit by a drunk driver. Shana ran to the scene, where she discovered both legs were badly crushed.
“I saw him get up on his knees and I saw the people yell, ‘Get back down. Get back down.’” He kept trying to get up, but I heard him praying. And I heard him repenting of his sins and asking Jesus to forgive him and to wash him in His blood, and to let him into heaven. I heard him saying, ‘Protect my son.’ And I can’t forget those words, as he lay there on the ground.”
Paramedics arrived after what seemed an eternity, and took him to the hospital.
“The doctors came out and told my grandmother and told myself that he passed. And I think that was the worst news I could ever hear. Because I was back to where I started, but this time I was with a baby. And to me, all the love that I was getting now was gone; completely gone.”
Days later, a few women from a nearby church paid Shana a visit. They had heard about the accident and came to check on her, and offer their help. They also shared with her the love of Jesus Christ, and how only He could save her.
“I shared with them some of my childhood and what I’ve been doing. She said, ‘God can change your life.’ She said, ‘You might not be able to repent the way your boyfriend did, you know.’ She said, ‘But that doesn’t mean you will.’ And that right there alone, was the turning point for me where I said, ‘I don’t want to go to hell.’ I was in the living room. And she asked me to repeat after her as she led me to the Lord. And I did. I repented of my sins. I confessed and acknowledged that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.”
While Shana embraced her new life as a Christian, it took time to heal from the pain and hurt.
“I would cry. I don’t think there was a day I didn’t cry. I’d cry. At times I would punch the wall. I was angry. My life is not turning out the way I wanted it to turn out.”
Through the support of people in her church and prayer, she finally saw herself as God sees her.
“I could hear Him saying, ‘It’s going to be okay. You’re going to make it. You’re not going to turn out like everybody else said you’re going to turn out. You’re not going to end up like your mother. You’re going to be able to make it. You’re going to be successful.’ And it was that point that that love that I thought was taken away, I felt a love that I needed. And that’s the love was Jesus Christ. And He was revealing to me that I’m all the love you’re looking for. I’m all the love you need.”
In time Shana was able to let go of her anger, and forgive her mother. She also married Stephan, and today they have 3 children: Giovanni, Vanise, and Marland, Jr.
She’s a minister at Harvest Army Church International, the same church that took her in 14 years ago. Shana and Stephan travel the world, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“He revealed His love to me. He revealed, ‘This is the love you need. Your mom’s not around, but I’m here.’ He revealed to me that, ‘I will take care of you. I can change your life.’ And all I needed to do at that moment was release everything to Him; not just attend church, but surrender everything to Him.”
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