She overcame father’s curse: ‘You’re going to be a whore like your mother’

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By Mark Ellis —

Sharon Craig’s story—especially her early life—is not pleasant to recall. “I lost my childhood at age four,” Craig says. At that time she was sexually abused by a family member. Years later she discovered the perpetrator had been arrested for molesting children before marrying her grandmother.

“He put me into a closet,” Craig says. “It was very violent; I fought with all my might,” she says. Her grandfather threatened to kill her, so she never told anyone. She blocked the experience out of her mind until age 40.

“I grew up with my parents telling me I was stupid, that I would never amount to anything,” Craig says. But she knew someone was watching out for her—someone beyond this earth. She didn’t know who it was because she never went to church.

As a child, her parents got divorced, which nearly destroyed her, because divorce was still a rarity at the time. “My dad ran off and left us and my mom became a prostitute,” Craig says. There were many times when her mother would not come home and she remembers having no food in the house. At this time her family lived in California.

“People at school thought something was not quite right, but nobody came to me and asked any questions,” Craig says. “Back then everybody just minded their own business.”

Craig was very protective of her two younger sisters. She often slept lightly at night because “night was evil, and day was safe” in her mind. One night her mother gave two men the keys to her apartment, saying she would meet them at a prearranged time. Craig awoke to hear the men arguing loudly.

“The two men were very upset because my mother stood them up,” she says. “I heard one of them say, ‘She’s got some daughters.” Terrified, she realized the men were planning to rape them.

She woke up her sister immediately. Hurriedly she whispered: “We need to climb out the window,” Craig recalls. “As I climbed out the window I looked up at the sky and I said, ‘If there’s a God, get us out of here.’” Little did she realize her prayer would soon be answered.

A quick answer

“Within a week, we were gone—my grandmother came to get us,” she says. Unfortunately, her grandmother’s age prevented her from taking care of the sisters very long. But Craig’s father remarried and he drove from Oklahoma to pick up the girls and take them back to live with him.

“Some bad things happened there,” Craig says. “My stepmother was really cruel,” she says. “We’d be locked in closets and all sorts of stuff.” ‘Closets’ began to create unhealthy connotations in Craig’s mind. “Later, when Christians would say, ‘Go to your closet and pray,’ I’d break out in a cold sweat.”

“My father tried to molest my sister at 16,” Craig says. “He was bringing other women into the house to sleep with him,” she says. His comments to Craig were emotionally damaging.

“My father said, ‘You’re going to be a whore like your mother.”

At 18, Craig met a young man in school who told her he loved her. “I went to bed with him and got pregnant,” Craig says. “I was really scared to tell my father.” She broke the news as gently as possible. “He wanted me to have an abortion. He couldn’t handle taking care of us, let alone a grandchild.” Everyone else counseled her toward abortion or adoption.

“The boy who told me he’d love me forever, and wanted to marry me, didn’t want the baby either after he found out,” Craig says. Even though she had never been to church, Craig sensed that abortion was wrong.

“I stood up and said, ‘That’s my baby! If we have to live on the streets I won’t murder my baby.” After Craig was 4 ½ months pregnant, her boyfriend had a change of heart.

“He decided he would marry me, and every two years we’d have another child,” Craig says.

They had three children together and then he left.

“My three children and I moved to Oklahoma City and started a baby nursery business,” Craig says. “But I was young and didn’t know how to run a business,” she says.

Craig’s husband was not paying child support, and the state was insisting she spend money on upgrades for the business. Recognizing she wasn’t making it, she decided to fold up the business, pack everything and move. She and her three children were living in part of the nursery, which was next door to a bar called the “ZigZag.”

“I went to pick up my stuff at the nursery and somebody broke in and stole everything,” Craig says. “All our clothes were stolen; we didn’t have a glass or a dish,” she says. Without the money for rent, Craig and her three children slept in her car. At this time her son was four years old, her first daughter was two, and her second daughter was 11 months old.

“We had nobody to call, no place to turn,” she says. She tried to call her ex-husband, but was unsuccessful in her attempts to reach him. Finally, she was able to reach his sister. “I had trusted my ex-sister-in-law because they were supposedly Christians,” she says.

Deceived

“She told me she would help me,” Craig says. “She said they’d come and get the kids until I got on my feet. They asked me to sign some papers in case the children got sick, so they could call the doctor. So I signed some papers.” Soon Craig discovered she was deceived.

“When I signed the papers, I found out I adopted them out,” Craig says. This was like a mortal wound. “When you lose your children—you’re dead,” she says. “Not only did I give up my rights, they separated my children.” Her three children were adopted into different families.

“I shook my fist at God,” Craig says. Her voice broke as she recalled the pain of that time, and what “Christians” had done to her. “I said, ‘If this is Christianity, I’d rather serve the devil.”

“I became hard I had so much hurt,” Craig says. “I trusted nobody.” She was able to find work at a local company. “I was a walking dead person,” she says. “I had to find a job that had uniforms because I didn’t have any clothes.” A co-worker took pity on her, and invited her to stay at her home in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Slowly getting back on her feet, she met her second husband, Gary, in a checkout line at a store. “We dated three months and got married,” Craig says. “I didn’t think I deserved to be happy,” she says. Despite the fact she was taking birth control pills, she became pregnant with her fourth child.

“God knew I needed a baby to love,” Craig says. “I cried when I found out I was pregnant.” On the day the baby was born, her new mother-in-law happened to break both of her legs. So Craig found herself caring for her new baby and her mother-in-law. “You do what you have to do,” she says.

“I had every reason to be happy, because I had a second chance,” Craig says. “But one day I looked in the mirror and said, ‘Who are you?’” Darkness seemed to come over her, and she fetched a gun hidden in a nearby closet. Returning to the mirror, she stared into her own eyes and said, ‘I hate you.’

“Maybe it was the stress…I was going to pull the trigger.” As she reflected over her life, a sound from the other room interrupted her thoughts. “I always had the TV going because I liked the noise.”

“I heard somebody say, ‘Jesus loves you’ on The 700 Club,” Craig says. “It made me so mad I marched down the hall.”

“I thought, ‘You’re a liar, and I was gonna shoot the TV.”

“I kept hearing the pastor saying ‘He loves you, he loves you,’ and I kept thinking, ‘Oh yeah, God, well why did you let all these things happen to me?”

“I said, ‘OK God, if you love me you have to prove it to me. If you’re really real, and if you love me, I’ve gotta have a sign.’ Craig thought for several seconds about something she could pray for.

Crack her cast

“All of a sudden I thought of my mother-in-law sitting over at her house. I said, ‘Crack her cast, and then I’ll believe.’” For some inexplicable reason, she thought of her mother-in-law’s two broken legs, covered by casts.

“I don’t even know why I thought that,” she says. But all of a sudden I felt this warmth come over me, and I came to my senses and put the gun back.

After putting the gun back in the closet, Craig returned to her daily routine, but began to feel guilty because she had not checked on her mother-in-law. “I called her and said, ‘Estelle, I’m sorry I didn’t check on you.’ I lied, and told her I’d been sick.”

“I had to go to the doctor,” Estelle replied. “The strangest thing happened to me.’

“What?”

“As I was watching TV I looked down and my cast cracked.”

“You’re lying! You must have banged it somehow.”

“No, I had my feet propped up in the recliner and it split right before my eyes,” Estelle told her.

Dr. Carlson, a respected surgeon in the area, examined the cast. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Usually when a cast cracks it leaves a jagged edge. “It was like someone took a fine instrument and sliced it,” he said in shock. “And your leg is totally healed!”

“That’s when I started believing,” Craig says.

Still, something kept her away from church. “After that happened I still didn’t go to church,” she says. “Nobody invited me and I didn’t know where to go. I was still living in the world.”

Craig and her husband divorced after 12 years of marriage. Her husband had several affairs and Craig admits to having one herself.

“I was drawn to church but I kept dropping out,” Craig says. “They told me how to get saved but not how to keep saved,” she says. “My pastor was so holy he would never relate to somebody in my lifestyle. He didn’t have any programs for people like me.” Her church attendance was sporadic, at best.

“I started going back to the bars and shacking up,” Craig says.

One Sunday morning, Craig and her live-in boyfriend decided to hold a garage sale. “I’m drinking a whiskey at 10 or 11 in the morning and a Church of Christ man came to me and said, ‘Are you saved?’

“I was horrified and said, ‘Of course—you bet I am.’

“He said, ‘Ask God to convict you,’ and I laughed.

“When that man left, I said, ‘OK, God, convict me,’ and I toasted my Heavenly Father with a whiskey shot.”

Visitation by angel

Two weeks later Craig was awakened in the middle of the night as she slept with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend was a Vietnam veteran who usually slept very lightly. “You could barely move your finger and he’d be awake, but this is the only night he never woke up.” Unable to sleep, Craig got out of bed.

“I started pacing the floor, and I felt like I was in the deepest, darkest pit,” Craig says. “I thought, ‘What is wrong with me, what is wrong with me? I kept pacing the floor.’

Suddenly an angel appeared to Craig in the corner of the bedroom. The angel said, “All is not well with your soul…Choose this day whom you will serve.”

The angel had a large Bible in his hands. “He was flipping pages and showing me verses,” she says. “If you think I wasn’t scared…” Craig describes the angel as “beautiful” and “powerful.”

“He could read my thoughts and I could read his thoughts. I could hide nothing from this angel,” Craig says.

“The angel said, ‘Broad is the road that leads to destruction and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ Then the angel said, ‘No adulterers, no fornicators, and no drunkards will ever enter the gates of heaven.’

“That’s when I knew my sin was wrong,” Craig says.

“Then he said, ‘The laborers are few but the harvest is plenty…Are you going to be my laborer?’

“Next the angel said, ‘Time is short, warn my people.’ He had a trumpet, and it was an inch from his mouth. He said, ‘No more sitting on the fence. If you’re lukewarm I’ll spew you out of my mouth.’” Then the angel gave Craig a vision.

“I saw a white horse,” Craig says. “It was beautiful, but it was like he’d been waiting, like he’d been cooped up, wanting to run.” Then Craig found herself transported to another place.

“I was on an island as far as the eye could see, and I was on a podium with fifteen other people dressed in white. We were praising the Lord,” Craig says. She describes the other 14 people as “dark skinned.”

“I heard a noise–laughter, and shouting. All of us on the podium were startled, and looked up. We saw people running toward the podium. I saw crutches falling to the ground, arms and legs growing back—God was healing these people.” With that, the angel and the vision vanished from the room.

“This was a wake-up call to me from God,” Craig says. “God was saying to me, ‘Either you serve me or you don’t, no more playing games,” she says. “It scared me so bad.”

The following morning when her boyfriend woke up she told him, “Either you marry me today and make me an honest woman or get out of my life.”

“He said, ‘Oh baby, I love you, you know I love you.’” When she described her experience with the angel, he told her it must have been a dream.

“I said, ‘No, I was wide awake, up pacing the floor. Then I said, ‘No man’s worth my soul. Either you marry me or get out of my life.’

“He’s not in my life,” Craig says, laughing. “If you love anything more than God, you have to let it go,” she says.

“I believe I’m on borrowed time, that my mouth is going to be a trumpet, and I’m going to go out there and be a soul winner,” Craig says. “I pray that God gives me a John the Baptist spirit.”

“I don’t care what people think,” Craig says. “I have to tell people what I’ve seen,” she says.

Craig found a church in Ardmore, Oklahoma called Crystal Rock and she began to develop a deeper understanding of her faith and calling. Now her TV is tuned 24 hours a day to Christian television, which she credits with keeping her from going back to her sin. She refuses to go to movies, after having a bad experience with a Disney film.

“I went to a Walt Disney film about two women who were witches starring Bette Midler,” Craig says. “As soon as I saw them I got physically ill and had to leave the theater,” she says. “It’s like a dog returning to its vomit, why would I want to go back and eat vomit?” she asks.

Soon after recommitting to the Lord, her long lost children resurfaced in her life. “After I turned to God they came back in my life,” Craig says. “My daughter Michelle called me on Halloween night and I had an unlisted number,” she says.

Feeling the Lord calling her into ministry, Craig moved to Tulsa and began to work at a department store. She witnessed so boldly for her faith to co-workers, her superiors threatened to fire her on numerous occasions. Several of her co-workers were homosexuals.

“They told me I couldn’t talk about Jesus, but the homosexuals could talk all about their escapades,” Craig says. “One day I stood up in the lunchroom and said, ‘Excuse me! God doesn’t make mistakes. Why would God make you a homosexual when that sin will send you to hell?” she asked. After her outburst, she was threatened once again with termination.

Doggedly, she began to pray for two particular male homosexuals she liked, even though she “didn’t like what they did.” After praying for the men consistently for three years, they agreed to go to church with her, and both were saved.

“Don’t ever give up,” Craig says. “God burdened my heart for them,” she says. “I can see the call of God on people, even if they’re in deep sin.”

“The people I bring into church are going to make people nervous,” Craig says. “But I’ll bring in the heart of Jesus,” she says. “This is what church is all about.”

“Jesus is stronger than any psychiatrist,” Craig says. “Life is very short and it’s very serious,” she says. “Time is on my side, I’m the victor now because of Jesus Christ.”

 

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