Our Voices Matter

"My Story" by Laneen Haniah

I was born as a bouncing baby girl, full of hopes, dreams and joy -- just like every baby is. But then the cruelty of destiny and the injustice of fate began to quickly shape my course. When I was only 2 years old, I was regularly molested by a lesbian babysitter. Then around the same time I was raped by one of my male relatives. My childhood memories include watching pornography, seeing people have sex in front of me, laying in bed next to people who were masturbating and being instructed on how to do it to myself, playing with sex toys and being casually and haphazardly touched in my intimate places by male and female relatives just as a matter of habit.

I certainly became a product of my environment. I started masturbating at the age of 5, developed a fond interest in pornography, took on a homosexual nature and attempted to have intercourse. If you can believe it or not my greatest desire at the age of 5 was to see a male's private parts! I was absolutely obsessed with seeing the male anatomy and tenaciously pursued my goal. All of the adults in my life were too busy getting high, drunk and indulging in their own sexual fetishes to even notice the hell that I was going through.

I suffered rejection as far back as I can remember. Even in preschool the other children disliked me for reasons I did not know. From the time I was 6, other girls were calling me “lesbo”; and “dyke”;. Then when I was 8, I was struck with a terminal illness. The illness crippled my body and the medications that I was taking caused my face to look funny. I was viewed as an absolute freak by my peers and thus bad matters only got worse.

I was crushed when I was told by doctors at the age of 10 that I would not be able to have children due to the medications that I had to take. Other than seeing male private parts, getting married and having a beautiful family one day was my life's goal. I wanted to make the type of family that I did not have. How could that dream be taken away from me at such a young age? What purpose would my life hold when my heart's desire had already been thwarted?

With very little hope left, I soon turned to the only thing that I had always known - sexuality. Gradually increasing in my sexual perversions, at the age of fifteen I graduated from having sex with dolls, hairbrushes and carrots to intercourse with a real live man. I didn't care about my life or health at that time. I was looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places and I was determined to prove those doctors wrong. I wanted to have a baby!

I grew up in a fairly small city and so it didn't take long for me to gain a reputation as the 'neighborhood ho'. I thought having sex would help me find love, but truly it only led me to more rejection and self-hatred. I eventually became an alcoholic and drug addict making all of the worse decisions for my life. I left home at the age of 16 so that I could fully embrace my new life of addictions and the gates of hell were opened against me.

Before it was all said and done I had become a drug addict and dealer; a gang member; had been incarcerated several times; had been in mental institutions several times; had guns put up to my head on 4 different occasions; had been raped on 3 different occasions; had been jumped and stabbed; became a practicer of witchcraft; became a stripper and a prostitute; had sex with over 200 people; contracted STDs on 8 separate occasions; and consequently made 3 very serious suicide attempts!!!

At the age of 18 something truly amazing happened -- I got pregnant! I had prayed to God and begged Him for a child and He had mercy on me. I was soon to find out though that having a baby did not heal my wounded heart, nor did it fill the depths of the black void in my soul. I enjoyed having a son, but being a mother did not cure my addictions; and the responsibility of having a child only made life that much harder.

One day, in a desperate effort to “fix” things, I decided to end the lives of both me and my 2 year old son. I was planning on committing murder suicide. Little did I know that it was my day for change, for a breakthrough and a new beginning. Unable to go through with my plan, I did what seemed to me at the time “something ridiculous”-- I cried out to God. Sobbing uncontrollably I said,

“God, if you will just be real to me I will serve you. I'm tired of the testimony of others about how good You are. I want You to be real to me. I don't need religion. I am lonely and hurting and broken and all I want is a friend who loves me. Will You be that to me? Will You be real to me?”

To my utter and delightful surprise, God responded to me immediately with His very presence. I literally felt Him wrap His arms around me. I stopped crying immediately and my life was never the same.

After that, I was totally in love with My Savior Jesus. I had a problem though -- I didn't know how to change my ways. Although my struggles with sexuality had been subdued by my acceptance of Christ, they had not been cured. I tried to get help in the church but there was none to be found. People either refused to talk about sex, judged me for my struggles or were exposed as undercover Christian freaks who needed deliverance themselves. I stopped having sex with “niggaz” in the street and started having sex with “niggaz” in clergy collars.

I had another problem too -- I was a single mother with an illegitimate son. I knew that God had placed a calling on my life for ministry, but with my on-going struggle with sexuality and my past life made obvious by the presence of my child, my future in the church looked grim. Plenty of stuck-up, religious church folks made sure to remind of that fact often too.

In spite of my struggles I was determined to keep running after God. I had nothing left in the world to go back to. I was either going to stick it out with The Lord, or I was going to go through with the plan that He had interrupted the night He proved to me that He was real!

I spent a lot of time praying and reading the Bible. I went to church as often as I could. I stayed away from my old friends even though I did not have any new ones. I did everything I could to hold on to God and stay out of “trouble”. As I was serving the Lord the very best that I knew how to my destiny took on a new rosy glow, and fate decided to pay me restitution.

On April 30th 1999, I met a man named Emmanuel. The name Emmanuel means “God with us”. Unknown to me the day I met Emmanuel, God would be with us (me and my son) in a new way through Emmanuel. He was a well-respected minister in town and a very sought after Christian bachelor. I had given up hope on getting married though. I was focused on being loyal to God. I had decided it was enough for me to have a relationship with my friend Jesus. Of course, this is not how I really felt, but I had to tell myself that so I would not have to live with the daily struggles of loneliness.

But God was thinking about my happiness even when I was not thinking about it myself! His blessings overtook me like a sweet whirlwind. It sounded like a love story straight out of Hollywood “Former Prostitute engaged to Christian Minister” (laugh). Emmanuel broke the hearts of half the ladies in the church when he announced his engagement to me.

I thought it was too good to be true because I knew one day before we got married I would have to tell Emmanuel about my past. I dreaded that day, but I could not live a lie and did not want to build a marriage on one. I knew that if God had really ordained our marriage that nothing would stop it. In my heart I hoped for the best, but in my head I was sure that Emmanuel would toss me in the sewer when I told him the truth.

I'll never forget the day that I mustered up the courage to tell him about my past. Emmanuel had been celibate for nearly six years before we met and I had been sexually active just 2 months prior. But none of that mattered. I will never forget what He said to me that night... After spending about 2 hours bearing my soul and telling him every filthy detail of my past that I could think of, I hung my head down in shame and waited for his response. He called me to himself. He pulled me close and he looked at me and said, “I am so sorry for what they did to you.”

I did a double take. “Did he say what I think he just said?” I thought. Then Emmanuel went on to say to me as he gazed deeply into my eyes “Laneen, I don't care about your past. You are a virgin to me and you are my Queen Esther.” Just weeks later we were married on July 28, 1999. The greatest gift that my husband gave to me was not having sex with me before we got married. I admit that I was still not healed during our courtship. He could have had me at any time, but he said he would not dishonor me.

Today Emmanuel and I have been married for 9 years by God's miraculous grace. And just to make the devil look really stupid -- God blessed us with 7 children!!! Emmanuel adopted the son I gave birth to before I met him and even gave that son his name -- Ja'Keim Emmanuel. We have had six more children since the three of us became a family and that makes seven! Hallelujah and Glory to Yahweh my GOD!

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