Attempted Murder Conviction Paves the Way to Peace
By Robert Hull
The 700 Club
CBN.com - “She was just a very naïve young woman from Mississippi,” Shay Bell said. “She never would have a dreamed that her brothers would do the things that they did to me.”
Before she was five years old, Shay Bell was already trapped in a cycle of sexual abuse and too afraid to tell her mother. “My uncle that went into the Army, when he would come home from the Army he would be our caretaker in the evening,” Shay said. “He would play like sex games with me and he would take that and use that against me and that kept me from telling her what was going on.”
“I would run away from home. I was so emotionally messed up on the inside, I didn’t know—I wanted to be helped. I wanted my mom to see what was going on with me. But I didn’t have the courage to tell her for the fear of the whuppings and stuff.”
From her early teens through her twenties, she lived on the streets, surviving any way she could. “I walked the streets all night,” Shay said, “And somebody would pick me up and they’d have sex with me all night and I still won’t be done. (I) Got no rest or anything. And guys that did drugs that wanted to have sex with me would give me heroin. You know what I’m saying? Made me forget the pain. (It) Made me forget that I was worthless and that I didn’t have a choice in the matter what was happening to me. (It) Just it took me away. I just didn’t remember.”
“The streets would teach me how to be a hustler; how to take care of myself. I had a pimp here and there,” Shay said. “I would trick all day long, so sometimes I’d be able to clip some in the meantime or something—you know, there’s anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand a day. And just blow it, you know, every day.”
Heroin addiction, sexual abuse, and prostitution was the only life she knew. “I believe with everything inside of me that I couldn’t move past my addiction and the streets,” Shay said. “That’s it. That’s all I knew. That’s all that ever took care of me. I don’t know nothing about God and God don’t know nothing about me. I didn’t believe He heard my cries. The nature of the game out there on the streets began to change, become more violent, and this guy set me up for some boys to rob me and I shot him.”
The drug dealer survived a gunshot wound to the stomach. Now, it was Shay who was wishing for death. “So I wanted to just die,” Shay said. “So I would try to do it with drugs. I would smoke big large pieces, I could not even get high. I could not feel anything.”
She was arrested and sentenced to 20 years for attempted murder. “I was ready to do my 20 because this is where I thought I was supposed to be for the rest of my life.” Shay said, “’Just take me there, leave me alone. I’m tired of the chaos out here. I’m tired of not caring about me. I have lied to my mom. I have taken her through so much, you know. Just leave me here, everybody know where I’m at, I’m safe.’”
Shay served eight years in prison and then was paroled. Desperate for a new start, she moved into the Lovelady Center in Birmingham, a transitional housing ministry run in the home of Brenda Spahn. “Shay was the very first woman to ever enter these doors as a resident,” Brenda Spahn said. “She was angry, bitter. She had been hurt by Christians, been hurt by the system, been hurt by men, been abused her whole life. I saw a woman whose circumstances had brought her to a terrible place in life. And now God had entrusted me with showing her who He was.”
Shay was skeptical at first. “When I see the mansion I said, ‘yeah right. You ain’t going to put me in here, you know. There’s got to be a shack out back or something.’ We pull out back and there was no shack, it was just a swimming pool. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Wow! This ain’t happening to me,’” Shay said. “’You know, this is fairy tale stuff, this don’t happen to women like me.’”
Miss Brenda shared her life with the residents and showed them the love of God - something most had never experienced before. “No matter who came or what –from what walks of life they came from, she brought them in and she loved them,” Shay said. “I never seen love like that in action, you know. And I –I would just ‘wow, maybe there is some real truth to this here.’”
Shay’s heart eventually softened as she began to trust and receive the love of God she saw in Miss Brenda.
“I start praying to Him and start reading His Word. I was being taught who He was,” Shay said. “And that He loved me unconditionally. He have showed me so much mercy and grace. In the midst of all of my sins, in the midst of all of them, He has been there. He have saved me time and time again.”
Shay put her trust and her life in the hands of God and says everything changed. She now ministers with Brenda to women who enter the program. The book Miss Brenda and the Loveladies, tells how the love of God gave Shay a new life and a new start.
“He gave me the desires of my heart,” Shay said.
“He erased the pain of the past, but He gave me an instruction manual that’s not what I want to do anymore and He gave me instruction of how I am today. I am a child of the Most High. And He loves me unconditionally. And I am His daughter.”
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