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TyShawn Dion

I know that at first it might seem kind of crazy; you know- to think about this supreme, “magical” as some might put it, being in the sky that created all of the stars, planets, animals and humans… I get it- but if there’s one thing that I have noticed in this life, it’s that everyone needs something to believe in. Whether it be astrology and omnipresent energies within our universe that determine our innate natures, or the existence of aliens as it pertains to our acceleration as a human race; karma, luck, Santa Claus with the little ones whose reminder always seems to make them behave for their parents, or any combination because frankly the list is endless. People tend to believe in things that give them a sense of purpose and as a result, live their everyday lives in ways that align with their faith. For me, that belief is in God. The only difference is I don’t just believe in him, I know that God believes in me.

    As a youngin in Sumter, South Carolina you knew three things: address your elders as sir or ma’am, it was going to be hot outside, and to make sure your entire Sunday was carved out for church. My Papa would wake me up at 6 so that I was ready for Sunday school at 7. From there I would head to bible study from like 8:30 to 10, then prepare to be in service from 10:30 to 2 (oh, and don’t forget to factor in evening service at 5:30). Coming from that kind of background, I guess one could say that faith was instilled in me from a young age, but ultimately knowing who God was and ACCEPTING God were two different things. As I grew older I learned that you didn’t necessarily have to be in church to know God; that he could hear you anywhere in the world. I gravitated more towards strong spirituality and further away from the confinements of a religious denomination, and even in my lowest times where I would question him- God greeted me in ways that one could only imagine.

    Imagine this: It’s your dream to be a professional Basketball player, but not just any player, the star of your team like Jordan, Kobe, or LeBron. You’re familiar with some of the teams and know the basic rules of the game, but only ever actually practice when someone tells you that there’s no way you’ll ever make. As you can imagine, you wouldn’t be too great, certainly not NBA worthy to say the least right? The same goes for people, prayer, and their relationships with God. Once I realized that I fit said description, I started going about things differently and as a result, amazing things started happening. For those of us who still do not know God, it kind of sounds like he’s this Genie that will grant whatever wish (prayer) we have, and his willingness to do so directly impacts the relationship and or faith that we have in his existence. I knew the basics of who God was, I tend to think of myself as a good person and did things that I figured might grant me passage to heaven, I prayed before every meal and occasionally prayed when I was thankful for things that I felt only he could pull off- but more often than not, I only prayed when I needed something. Now, I’m not saying that I was ignored or that it always felt like he came through for me in the EXACT way that I had requested, but it forced me to take a step back and question why he should help me if I only ever ran to him in my times of need. I get fed up with friends that only come around when they need money so I could only imagine how he must’ve felt with me.

    I’ve seen and heard a lot of testimonies. Some seemed like they were straight out of the bible, some super hyperbolized and fabricated just to convince you why you should believe in God, and some so chilling that they made every hair on my body stand at attention; now- I’m not sure that my testimony today will do that for you, but I know that what I am about to say is true, and that I could not be more thankful to God for allowing me the opportunity to share it with you. Throughout my life I have been seemingly plagued by tragedy, loss, and hardships, but who hasn’t right? My father was murdered when I was young, I grew up in the hood to a single mother who had two other kids to feed, I had family hooked on drugs, best friends and close family members that passed away constantly- the sob story goes on and on. But still, I was blessed with a home; God blessed me with gifts, both artistically and athletically along with the free will to manifest my dreams into realities. Even still, it wasn’t until 2018 where I truly understood how great, understanding, accommodating, and ever present the Lord was. I was out of school, out of work, in debt up to my ears, my car was totaled out, and I spent every single day of my summer laying in bed depressed about my life. My days seemed to bleed into one another and I definitely was thinking in terms of my glass being half empty until one day, during my regularly scheduled program of self-pity Saturday, I had my awakening.

    I closed my eyes for a moment to prepare myself for my third nap of the day when I felt this weight come over me. I attempted to open my eyes but was unable and I slowly began to fall into a panic once I realized that I couldn’t move my body or speak. My anxiety continued to build until I heard a voice, and in that instant I was overwhelmed with a calm like I have never felt; it was my Yia Yia (greek for grandmother) and she wasn’t alone. With her was my Papou (grandfather) and a third voice that I could not recognize. During this time, I was able to speak to my grandparents for the first time in years as they assured me that they had been with me every step of the way, and that I had been making them proud but they could see that in that moment, I really needed them and to hear some things that I might not like. As I prepared to rebuttal, the third voice chimed in and it was as if I wasn’t even able to speak any longer; without ever introducing themselves, the voice told me that there were great blessings prepared for me in life, but that he did not feel comfortable presenting them to me with how I was living and at that moment I knew that God was speaking to me. Thinking that I had the answers, I attempted to volley a conversation, which my Yia Yia quickly shut down by telling me to shut up and listen instead of always trying to be right (lord knows I missed those conversations). The voice then gave me a list of things that I needed to do before I could begin to receive my blessings: 1. Eliminate all hate or any hard feelings that I may have been harboring in my heart, 2. Pray everyday; and if I didn’t feel like praying, just speak to God. Letting him know that I actively seek a relationship with him since he already knows what I am going to say before it is said, and 3. Have faith that he is going to… and that’s when the voice began to fade out. I could no longer hear my grandparents, and shot up from my bed with a force that I’ve never experienced before. With tears rolling down my face and goose bumps on my arms, I hit my knees and began to pray. Within the next 3 weeks, practicing what I was told, I secured a job with excellent pay, received a check for nearly $3,000 in back pay from my previous employer, and worked things out with my University. All I can say is, he didn’t need to make me a believer, but I promise that he made sure I would never doubt him again.

---TyShawn Dion Testimony: About
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