CBN.com DeShawn Tatem’s life began in a rough neighborhood where hope was scarce and dreams of escaping the hood were hardly ever realized.
"We saw prostitutes. We saw drug transactions. We saw fights. We saw kids going to the candy lady. Right there, we’d be playing basketball at the court. At the same time, hustlers would be in the grass or in the dirt making transactions, and kids would be running around right here," he says.
As an albino, DeShawn felt isolated as a child.
"I’m all black. However, to my peers I looked white. It was kind of difficult for me to fit into any circle, so I ended up doing things just to fit in."
"A lot of kids, especially inner city kids are angry for many reasons, but when you are albino you really had no sense of identity. My father wasn’t around. I wouldn’t admit it that my father was part of the issue, but he was. By my father not being around, I was exposed to my mother’s boyfriend who was very physically abusive to my mom and all of my brothers and sisters. With that in the home going on and then being ridiculed by my peers, a lot of anger grew in me."
In his quest for acceptance, DeShawn joined a gang.
His mom remembers, "My greatest fear was him [DeShawn] losing his life. I figured that one of the phone calls I'd get would be that one day he’s gone. On the streets he thought he was invincible."
"I thought that no one had the heart to even test me. Nonetheless, four guys jumped out of the vehicle with guns. They caught me by myself, and they were ready to kill. They were pistol whipping me and we were fighting, and I wasn’t in a good position. I heard the young man say, 'Bring me the gun.' He was ready to go ahead and end it. I didn’t care about reputation at that point. The only thing I could do at that point was scream the name of Jesus. All of a sudden these young men looked, and they just ran like in terror."
One by one, DeShawn’s friends were arrested for various crimes.
"So now I was all alone with three different neighborhoods wanting to kill me. The police were searching for me. I was already on probation for selling drugs, so I was going to do all my time which was like 15 years. I said, 'I’m going to go to the ATM to get some money out, buy some bullets, and shoot as many enemies as I can in broad daylight.' And that was my remedy. I was going to shoot until I was gunned down. As I was going to the ATM, a woman came up to me. She said, 'Can I speak to you?' "
"I said, 'Sure.' She said, 'God sent me to tell you that God’s going to deliver you out of everything you’re going through. He’s going to give you a ministry dealing with young people. All you have to do is come to Him.' It didn’t get me saved, but it was enough to cause me not to buy the bullets."
"When I got home I turned on the TV and The 700 Club was on. You know, the portion of the show where Pat Robertson does the prophetic word. He said verbatim what the woman said."
"He [Pat] said, 'There’s a young man watching me right now. You know you’re supposed to be serving the Lord. He's going to get you out of all this trouble.' "
"Since I grew up in church that was enough for me to know that God was communicating with me, and I had nothing to lose but to try Him. So I got on my knees and I prayed to God. DeShawn soon moved to another area for a fresh start. I was totally separated from everything. It was long enough for me and the Lord to get closer and for the beef to die down."
During that time, DeShawn says God radically changed his life and gave him a message to tell through music. This comes through loud and clear in his latest album release, Blood and Water.
"God changed my life around. And now He’s given me a fire to go back to those same places where I was out there doing all that dirt ... to go back and minister to these thugs, to these people that are locked up in the culture of hip-hop.I want to identify with them and find common ground with them, and then give them the gospel in a way that they’re able to digest it and understand it."
And he is now united with the father he never knew.
"Glory to God, as of February 2006, my father has come back in my life twenty something years later. He’s saved and my mother is saved. They’re serving the Lord. They’re reunited as a married couple."
"I’m just happy that the Lord chose him to do a great work for Him," says DeShawn's mom.
"I’m joyful that he saved me. I know so many people that died. He could have let me die. He took me from the penitentiary. He just changed my entire life to where now, I’m blessed," he says.
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