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Message from Strangers Changes Man's Life

A childhood of abuse fostered an adult life marred by divorce, partying, and over-working. But then bizarre encounters with total strangers lead this suicidal workaholic into a completely new life. Read Transcript


Growing up I used to lay in bed in the other room

and hear men come in and have sex with her.

Grew up with a lot of resentment in that.

NARRATOR: Shawn Arvin's mother was a prostitute.

And he never knew his real father.

When you're in that environment,

and you're around drugs, there was

physical abuse, mental abuse, and actually, sexual abuse.

The first time I was raped, I was eight years old.

As a kid, you have no idea, emotionally,

what you're going through.

I had no idea what any of that stuff really meant.

It's not something that any kid should go through.

NARRATOR: Because of his mother's lifestyle,

Shawn was forced to move frequently and grow up fast.

Sometimes I would be with people I don't even know.

My mom would just take me there and drop me off.

And I'd be there for a few weeks.

So I learned how to survive.

And surviving meant hustling.

So by the age of ten, man, I was already out working.

NARRATOR: After high school Shawn got married

and joined the army.

He continued to survive by hustling, and working

three jobs on the side to provide

for his wife and two sons.

Just thought life was about work.

Make money, and bigger house, bigger car,

but things just didn't work out.

A lot of it had to do with, just from my past.

And me not even knowing who I was.

Or not even knowing anything about life.

NARRATOR: After his divorce and discharge from the army,

Shawn dove headfirst into the party scene.

Found a lot of love.

Man, when you're buying cocaine, and you're

buying drinks at a bar.

And you're hanging out.

Trust me, there's a lot of people who say they love you.

But man that's not real love.

NARRATOR: He went back to school to get a degree in business,

and an MBA.

He threw himself into a career with equal intensity.

Work is just as much of a false love as heroin addiction,

including going to school your whole life, including

working 80 hours a week.

NARRATOR: Shawn continued to work long hours

and finally landed his dream job.

I had life whupped by the tail.

Lived in a five bedroom house.

I had three cars.

I just thought, this is the American Dream.

One day, a new boss came in and he let me go.

It all come crashing down on me.

And I just sat there and I just thought about my past,

and thought about me, and just thought

about that I didn't want to live life anymore.

And I just thought about by my sons.

And I thought, man, they would probably be better off

they didn't have a dad who hurt them like

I had been hurt my whole life.

NARRATOR: Shawn planned his suicide.

But before he could carry it out,

a friend who knew he was struggling

invited him to visit.

Shawn flew from his home in Kentucky to Florida.

While there he met a homeless man in a park.

We just hung out that day, just talking about everything.

I mean, you name it, kids, life, you name it.

And he said, hey Shawn.

And I stopped and just turned around and looked at him.

And he said, hey man, I just want you to know,

God loves you.

And I just thought, why.

In my mind, I was really thinking, who is this guy

to be telling me about God.

NARRATOR: Over the course of the next 10 days,

Shawn had a series of similar encounters,

each person offering the same message of God's love for him.

Before Shawn flew back home, his friend

gave him a copy of the Big Daddy Weave song, Redeemed.

[MUSIC - BIG DADDY WEAVE, "REDEEMED"]

Seems like all I could see was the struggle

And I just remember thinking, man, this my life.

Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past.

NARRATOR: When he returned to Kentucky,

he saw an ad for a Christian concert in the area.

The headliner was Big Daddy Weave.

Shawn bought tickets to the show.

Right after the concert gets over,

J. Weaver, the bass player for Big Daddy Weave,

comes off stage.

And he was just like, God wanted me to come down here and tell

you man, if you'll let go of all that stuff, man

he's going to set you free.

And maybe He's going to use your life for big things.

He's going to do miraculous things.

And you're going to touch thousands of people

with your life, if you'll just let go

of all the stuff from the past.

And man, I was just bawling.

I was so overwhelmed, with just, love.

It just felt like, for the first time in my life,

that I was loved.

NARRATOR: Shawn felt compelled to go to Church

the following morning.

Every single word the preacher was talking about, is about me.

I do remember him saying, if anybody

wants to come out front, and before he could even get that

out, I was already in his face.

And I was like, let's do this.

I'm going to give myself to Jesus

Christ for the rest of my life.

That's what I'm going to do.

Wherever he wants to go, whatever he wants to do,

where ever he wants me to be.

That's what I'm going to do, is I'm going to do Jesus

the rest of my life.

NARRATOR: He was later able to forgive his mother and others

from his past, and leave his drug and work

addictions behind.

One weekend I sat at home, in a notebook,

I just started writing every person who had hurt me.

Just prayed and kept saying, God,

please forgive me for holding on this.

And, God, will you please forgive them.

And by the end of Sunday, I felt like I was free.

NARRATOR: Today he is married and he and his wife,

Inga, run a community center in one of the poorest

neighborhoods in Louisville.

Through his ministry, Love City, Shawn

has a vision to redeem his community one life at a time.

Just as God has redeemed his.

You know our motto's, simple.

Just love God, love people, and let him figure out the rest.

If you ever get a dose of Jesus' love,

God's purest love, and you get it,

and there's no greater high.

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