Shawn Hillery was the biggest big shot in his hood. He had the biggest house, the nicest car, the most money, and the prettiest girls.
"My parents made sure I had what I needed to live a life of comfort," he says. "I grew up in the church. My mom loved going to church. She made sure I went too, but when I got older I stopped attending because I wanted to run the streets with the boys."
"My neighborhood was not the best neighborhood to live in. There were hustlers, pimps, drug dealers, prostitutes, thieves, murderers, rapists, and the like. These were the ones with the women and the money, and I wanted that life for myself," Shawn admits.
By the age of nine, he was watching porn and was "driven with lust and the desire to have sex." He would often mess around with the girls in his area. When he was 12, Shawn was selling candy at school to make money and at 16, selling drugs. Gambling and going to strip clubs became part of everyday life.
Shawn and his cousin started their own company called Mastermind Entertainment. "We would promote parties and we made two music CD's," he recalls. "We had made a name for ourselves and the girls liked being around us."
Shawn says that he had it all. "I would go to school with $3,000 on me and I would give money to the girls that I wanted to have sex with. At 18 my relationship with my parents was good; my dad had given me a Mercedes-Benz. I was the man.
I had about ten girls that I messed around with. They would get paid to have sex with my home boys and we would collect the money. I was making a lot of money back then and didn't know what to do with it. I would buy girls whatever they wanted so I could have sex with them."
Then, everything went downhill. "At the age of 19 I went to jail for having sex with an under-aged girl from another neighborhood. I was charged with an Indecent Act upon a child and I got a year of probation." Shawn says he thought the girl was 16 but when he arrived at the police station after being arrested he found out she was only 12.
He adds: "I didn't learn anything from it though. I was still running the streets with the boys and having sex with random young women."
When Shawn was 20 he became a father. "This made me want to stop running the streets but the life I loved was not easy to walk away from," he admits.
Then, Shawn was charged with Attempted Lewd and Lascivious Battery on a 14-year-old girl. Later, he was arrested for three counts of Lewd and Lascivious Behavior on a 15-year-old girl. He stayed in jail for three years until he accepted a deal of nine years' incarceration and 15 years' probation.
"I was 22 years old and I was sick and tired of running the streets," he explains. "I started seriously reflecting on my life."
A year later, while in prison, Shawn gave his life to Jesus. "I had come to myself and gone back to the church," he explains. "I repented [turned away from my sin] and asked God for forgiveness for the things I had done to other people. From then until now I have been walking with Him. It has not been easy, but nobody told me it would be. I have fallen since then, but God is faithful and He loves me and helps me grow more in His Word [the Bible] day by day.
One Bible verse that Shawn loves is John 14:27 which says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
"I feel much better since I have been on God's team," he smiles before encouraging other prisoners, "You should try Jesus. I want you to remember that there is hope in God. If He is working in my life, God can also work in your life.
"I'm making my life an open book so God can use me for His glory. I tried doing things my way and it did not work out that well for me. God has been too good to me, all of my life. Even when I was in the streets He looked out for me. Others saw the bad I did, but God sees the good I will do. Others may call me a rapist, drug dealer, a hustler, or a liar but God calls me His son."•