Shawn Christopher: The Faith of a Child
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“We did Carnegie Hall together, Michael Jackson, Patty Labelle, Dizzy Gillespie in the dressing room, Quincy Jones, Rick James.” Shawn Christopher’s childhood dream to become a singer was fulfilled when she became a back-up singer for Chaka Khan. “It’s like, ‘Whooooaa,’ you know? ‘This is it!’ It was unbelievable.”
When she was 13, that dream seemed impossible when she got pregnant and had her first child. She had 3 more children before she dropped out of high school at 17. Shawn saw no way out of her situation. “Everybody was doing this and going here and doing this and preparing for proms and I couldn't do any of that stuff. I was just a person taking care of kids, trying to survive in a very bad situation,” she remembers. But her grandmother never gave up on her, and encouraged her to dream again. “She'd go, ‘You can be anything you want to be.’ She would tell me, ‘Don't give up.’ She says, ‘Dream.’ I started dreaming about being a singer, but didn’t know how.”
Her brother, Gavin Christopher had moved to Los Angeles and become a successful singer-songwriter. When she visited him, he introduced her to an up and coming band, Love Craft. Eventually, Shawn started singing backup. When the lead singer left, Shawn got her big break. “I took over as the lead vocalist for Love Craft. As soon as I got on stage I knew that’s where I was supposed to be.” Her brother introduced her to Chaka Kahn and Shawn eventually toured with the R&B superstar. “I was so grateful. I loved her so dearly. I love her to this day. She's always been like a big sister to me.”
Shawn’s family cared for her children while Shawn toured, and she lived the life of a celebrity; but the money, limousines, and wild parties eventually led her to cocaine. “When I started doing that, it was just recreational with my friends,” she said. “It just put me into the party.”
Her cocaine use became more frequent and affected her now teenaged children. Her daughter Courtney remembers the parties. “On a school night she'd be the one to bring people home, once the club closed. It was hard finding the little bottles of things where we didn’t know what they were, but now knowing that it was cocaine.”
Courtney became a Christian. Shawn saw the change in her daughter and realized something was missing in her own life. Her daughter helped her understand what she read in the Bible. Courtney believed that God could change her mom. “You’re sitting there, ‘please God, please God, let this be’ – and then you watch her response to when she studies about Jesus, when she learns about the cross and what that means specifically for her.”
Shawn remembers learning the Bible for the first time. “I studied the Word of God to learn about my sin, who I am before God, what my sin has done; knocking down that wall and then making the decision to make Jesus lord of my life.“ Courtney recalls, “I just remember knowing that she's never going to be the same,”
Shawn quit using cocaine and she left her secular music career to concentrate on building a relationship with Jesus and her children. A year later she heard from a friend who was a record producer. “He contacted me and said, ‘I need you to sing this song on my record.’ And I did. It was called, Another Sleepless Night. The song went straight to number one on the dance music charts. Soon, Shawn went back on tour and things were going great, but the thrill didn’t last long. “The drugs got me again. I was full into the drugs again, traveling, doing drugs, singing, making tons of money, and just being a dance diva.”
The drugs and alcohol affected Shawn’s health and she lost her voice - and eventually her record deal. All that was left was an out of control cocaine habit. “My body was beginning to wear out. It was tired. I was sick.”
Her doctor told her she had fibroid tumors and was bleeding internally. She needed surgery. But her body was too weak. “My doctor told me, ‘Listen, this is what has to happen. You've got to stop doing drugs. You have to stop drinking. You have to stop smoking and get better so we can do the surgery and save your life.’ If she didn’t stop abusing her body, the result was inevitable. The doctor’s words spoke loudly. “He says, ‘You're not going to stroke out or nothing like that and die or anything like that. You’re just going to lay down and go to sleep and you're not going to wake up.’”
But Shawn wouldn’t give up the drugs. Her daughter and their church began to pray. Courtney says, “We just kept on praying. The most that we could do during that time was to pray.”
Shawn remembers crying out to God during that time. “I hadn't been asleep all night, or maybe in a few days, and I’m just crying, going ‘Lord, please, please take this from me. Either let me die or give me life.’ You know, ‘Something has to change.’”
She used cocaine up until the time of her next doctor’s appointment – but amazingly, her health was good enough to have the surgery that saved her. Shawn says that it was clear God intervened in her life. “That was a miracle. It was a miracle from God. Only He can do things like that. Because I did absolutely nothing to change it.”
After that day, Shawn never looked back. “From that Sunday in July, I’ve never touched cocaine to this day - here right now - and have no desire for it. I fell so in love with Jesus. I mean, really. I fell deeply in love with God and Jesus and His way.”
Shawn is singing once again—but now, for an audience of one.
Courtney is proud of her mom’s transformation. “Her devotion to God is so evident and it's encouraging. It’s uplifting and inspiring – when she sings. Before I used to think, "Oh, my momma can sing." you know? But now it's more of when she sings I get goose bumps because I know why she's singing. I know where it’s coming from and where it’s going to.”
Shawn says, “He loved me. He saved me. He extended His mercy and His grace to me the second time. He let me know that, ‘I’m here no matter what you’ve done. I’m here.’”
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