Sheila Lattisaw: A Fresh Start
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
Sheila Lattisaw grew up the daughter of a prostitute in Los Angeles. As the oldest of seven children, the burden of parenting often fell on her young shoulders.
"Many of my young years were devoted to my sisters and brothers. I had no childhood," Sheila tells The 700 Club. "I remember it being on a Saturday, and I was washing clothes. I hadn’t been outside, and I just wanted to go. I said, 'I’ll just put this basket of clothes here and I’ll sneak downstairs, just for a minute, [to] get some fresh air.' Well, I went downstairs, and I don’t think I was there for maybe three minutes. I heard my mom yell my name. I just felt my heart drop. She didn’t take it too well. I paid for it."
When she was seven, Sheila’s mother had a nervous breakdown. The children went to live with different relatives.
"My brother and I went to live with my grandmother. I think that was one of the happiest times of my life, actually, because I got to be a little girl then."
Sheila attended Catholic school and learned about God. She vowed her life would be different from her mother’s.
"I loved getting up and going to church. It was just my time. If anybody asked me what are you going to be when you grow up, I’m going to be a nun."
Despite her good intentions, Sheila got pregnant when she was 15. Her mother wasn’t happy.
"Her first response was, 'Of course, you can’t keep it.' But I told her I don’t want to get rid of it. I went to the young man and spoke to him. He said, 'Oh no, I want this baby.' In fact, he gave me a ring. He said, 'You’re going to keep this baby. You’re going to finish school. When you’ve finished school, we’re going to get married.'”
Two months after her daughter was born, Sheila’s fiancé got into an argument with someone and was shot and killed. At 16, Sheila felt like her life was over. She recalls, "I felt lost. All my hope was just gone."
Sheila’s mother tried to convince her to try prostitution, but Sheila resisted. She finished high school, moved out, and got married. After the birth of her second baby, Sheila felt her life was falling into place.
"I’m finally happy. I’m finally getting the brass ring. I’m finally at a place where I have some peace. I have someone who loves me."
Then one morning after her husband had left for his job, she got a phone call.
"It was the president of the company. He said there’d been an accident. I get to California hospital, and there he is. I was 21 years old. I remember I just fell to my knees, and I said, 'Not again. Not again.'"
After his death, Sheila was devastated.
"At that time, I begin a downward spiral. Because I couldn’t understand why it was snatched away. So I went into a state of depression. I stayed there. I didn’t know how to get out of it. I started relying on medications."
Sheila went from taking painkillers and smoking pot to using cocaine. During the day she tried to be a good mom. At night she prostituted herself for drugs.
"Honestly, I was no better than my mother, and it deeply disturbed me because I had become her."
One night, Sheila went to a hotel with a customer. After she arrived, she discovered it was a set-up, and Sheila was raped by a gang of 15 men. Physically, emotionally and spiritually at the end of her rope, Sheila cried out to God.
"I looked up to God and said, 'I’m hurting, and I don’t want to hurt anymore. I’m tired of the life that I’m living. Only person that can help me right now is You, God.' That was the first time I ever heard God speak to me. I heard that voice loud, and it was audible. He said, 'I’m here, and it’s going to be okay.' I’ll never forget that. That was the first time in my life I felt secure."
Sheila moved in with her grandmother and started going to church.
"My whole life changed. I joined a church and God spoke to me. When God calls us, we have to heed."
Today she is an ordained minister and happily married to Donald.
"He’s a man after God’s heart. We’ve been able to build a relationship based on the love of God and that makes a difference."
Sheila is grateful for the new life she has found in Christ.
"It’s like that butterfly. A butterfly has to go through a metamorphosis. He has to struggle to be able to gain his wings. When we become that new creature, we get our wings. Because we are that new creature in God, God has built us up from the inside out. Just like that butterfly."
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