By Sarah Montez —
All CJ Blair wanted was to make enough money so that his mother could stop selling her body to abusive men on the streets of Washington D.C.
“When you offer the opportunity for me to make $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 a night,” he explains, “then I’m connecting that to my mother being able to stop selling her body and getting beat up by men.”
Growing up in the projects with a single mom, CJ only knew the father figure that was her pimp.
Only his great grandmother was a believer, and he saw her praying during the summers when he went to visit.
“My great grandmother believed God for everything, I mean, everything,” he remembers. “If it was rent money, whatever, she believed it. I was like, ‘Wow, this woman is serious.’”
In all the family, CJ was the most prone to get into trouble, but Grandma always spoke positively about him, unlike other family members who criticized him.
“She would say I was a man of God,” he recalls.
Two paths were in front of young CJ, the wild life of the streets that he was accustomed to or the way of Christianity.
“I was scared of Hell,” he admits. But he didn’t want to “play with God,” as he saw it, to pursue God in a half-hearted way.
CJ dropped out of school at an early age. At 13, authorities arrested him for assault. For the next 12 years, he was in and out of jail.
After a 6-year stint in jail for robbery and malicious wounding, CJ emerged from prison and decided to start a musical career in the hip hop industry.
“I was in the studio one night, and the studio engineer began to talk about Jesus,” he says. “If there’s a Jesus and you haven’t accepted Him and you die, you gonna be short.”
“God began to start dealing with me at that point,” he says.
Two weeks later after making a major drug deal, he was driving home listening to a rap group talk about driving a platinum car with the mark of Beast.
“When I heard that, something triggered in me,” he recalls. “All that talk that my great grandmother was talking about back then when I was like 8, 9, here it is now. He knew he was headed to hell if his life didn’t change.
His hands popped off the wheel. Moved by the sudden realization of God’s existence, he exclaimed, “Hallelujah. Hallelujah.”
Then Jesus spoke — audibly.
“CJ,” He said. “Take it out.”
Accordingly, CJ popped out the cassette tape. This automatically switched to radio. A man’s voice came through the car’s speakers.
“Do you know what miracles are?” the voice said.
The radio guy was talking to me — literally,” CJ says. “But I knew it was God.”
CJ assumed that God’s intervention was preparation for him to die right then. He was scared.
“This is what God does to you before He kills you,” CJ thought. “He lets you know He’s real.”
“The next thing I know my hand is grabbing the coke and throwing it out the window,” he relates. “The marijuana, the cigarettes, everything my hand touched, I threw out the window. I remember saying to myself, ‘This better be Jesus because I just threw away all this money, and these folks gonna kill me.”
He went home, walked into the basement and prayed earnestly for the first time in many years.
He surrendered his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, inviting Him to take control of his life.
It got his mother’s attention and she asked what was wrong.
“I’m saved,” he responded.
CJ got rid of his guns, started reading his Bible and even enrolled in Bible college.
But he worried about the dealer to whom he owed the money from the drugs thrown out the window. That gangster eventually confronted CJ at the most vulnerable moment — in the barber shop.
Previously, CJ had always told his barber not to spin him in the chair because it turned his back to the door. Gangsters at the time were frequently killed in barber shops. As his hair was being cut, CJ always kept his eye on the door. He would get the drop.
But on this day, he didn’t have his gun. The dealer was infamous for being a ruthless killer. Instinctively, CJ reached for the gun, but it wasn’t there. He realized his time was up.
The dealer walked straight toward him.
“I hear you’re with Jesus now,” the dealer said. “Pray for me.”
He walked out.
Whew! That was a close one!
I told you I could protect you, God impressed on his heart, while still sitting in the chair.
Today, CJ is a pastor in Washington D.C. Instead of pushing drugs, he pushes Jesus.
“People need to see people who have made mistakes,” he says. “I represent the guy that was rebellious, that went to prison, the guy that’s been shot, that did all the wrong things, but I show forth His glory because at any moment when there’s one word from the Lord, all that is inexact in your past life can change.”
Sarah Montez studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.