Michelle Richards: Castle in the Sky
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
“I felt like I wanted to die.”
When Michelle Richards was five years old her parents divorced and her father dropped out of sight. Michelle remembers, “As a 5-year-old little girl, to me the word divorce meant, “He didn’t love me anymore.”
Michelle’s mother worked seven days a week to provide for her children. Michelle stayed with her grandmother where neighborhood boys began to molest her. Then at a sleepover at a friend’s house Michelle was molested by an adult.
“I remember him telling me to take them off. I said, ‘I can’t do that, my mom said, ‘Only God can see my body.’ And that’s when he said to me, ‘I’m god.’”
By the time she was 6, Michelle tried to escape those pain filled memories. She even tried to commit suicide by overdosing on chewable vitamins. Michelle recalls, “Nobody reached out to me to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? You’re just a kid. You’re only six. Why do you want to kill yourself when you haven’t even lived yet?’”
The abuse by her neighbors continued over the next two years. Michelle took me to the neighborhood where it took place.
Michelle Wilson asks, “What does it mean for you to come back now and to look at the very place where your innocence was stolen?”
“It just feels like I’m that little girl again. Because those feelings come back up where I was so defenseless and I just remember I can still hear his words,” says Michelle.
By the time Michelle was a teen she became very promiscuous. “It was never about sex at all. So if I could give my body away and it cause that guy to not leave me, that’s what I would do.”
When Michelle turned 16, she dropped out of high school and was drinking and partying everyday. Michelle reflects, “I only stayed numb as long as the alcohol was in my system, as long as I was drunk or passed out.”
By 20, Michelle had had multiple abortions before she gave birth to a baby girl. As a single mother, she struggled to provide for her daughter. “I had dropped out of school. I had no education, I had no way to support either one of us and I couldn’t get a job at all.”
When Michelle Richards thought that she didn’t have any other employment options she came to this bar to become a stripper. “This is where I would come in this door right here. This is the dancer’s entrance. Although on the outside I would put makeup on and wear all the clothes it gave the impression that I was very glamorous. On the inside I was so wounded. And I was so desperately hurting. That in my life for a man to give me a dollar to strip on a pole was actually more than I felt I was really worth.”
All during this time, Michelle's grandmother continued to pray for her granddaughter. Michelle remembers, “I'd be partying and drinking and I remember even telling her, ‘I don't need your prayers. I don't want you to pray for me.’ But she still had it in her heart to pray for me. And that God would show me mercy.”
Although Michelle made $600 dollars working just three nights, she left the strip club after just one month. She continued drinking and even got involved in lesbian relationships. Then one night, when she was 23, she was brutally raped by a stranger at a party.
Michelle emotionally recalls, “I just remember him getting on top of me and me saying, ‘no, no!’ I’d never even seen him before. When I woke up the next morning he was gone. Just like it was nothing.”
Michelle had hit bottom and again considered suicide. That’s when she got a call that her estranged father had died. She inherited his old Bible which she began to read. In 2005, Michelle went to church. She was still hung over from drinking the night before. She went forward for prayer.
Michelle remembers, “It felt I was submerged under Niagara Falls. It was His power of His spirit. And when it came pouring down over me, it just whoosh knocked me over, right there at the altar.”
Michelle asked God to forgive her for all the things she had done. “The alcoholism, and the sleeping around and just being promiscuous and the lesbianism and the stripping, and just abusing my body horrifically. The words ‘I’m sorry.’ Only sobs were coming out. Just this broken hearted sob from the depth of my soul. I was His child. He said, ‘My child.’ I belonged to Him. I never belonged to anyone before but now I had an identity.”
Michelle felt what she described as God’s healing touch. Her encounter with God that day lasted four hours. The next day, she knew God had set her free from years of abuse. Michelle reflects, “I didn’t want to see alcohol. My eyes were brighter and my face was lighter. And I wasn’t being weighed down. It was just amazing to me. I was looking at my face and I’m – ‘Who is this person? Who’s this new person?’”
Today Michelle is married to Jim and together they are raising her daughter. She has written a book about her life and the power of Jesus to take anyone from death to life in Him.
Michelle says, “Only Jesus Christ can take something that the world would throw away and say it’s worthless, and pick it up and make it brand new in Him. Because you’re worth something to Jesus. Jesus Christ loves the unlovable and He will do what nothing and no one else can, and that is give you a new life, a new hope and a future in Him.”
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