UCB supporter and church ambassador Chantell Hayles recently shared with us how God has restored and transformed her life.
Growing up I didn’t have my dad around, and I felt really insecure and really worthless. I started looking for attention from guys. From the age of 14, I started living a promiscuous lifestyle, just going out and meeting up with guys, because I was longing for that male voice. The only way I felt good about myself was if someone showed me attention. I also started experiencing anxiety. Some girls from another school were bullying me. I ended up in hospital a few times because the panic attacks got so bad that my blood pressure had heightened. It was a horrible time. I was in a really dark place.
One day when I was 16, I was walking home from school with my best friend. She said, ‘let’s swap coats because I prefer your coat’. So we swapped coats. Half an hour later I ended up in an argument with another girl from school. When my back was turned she stabbed me. The knife was really long and thick. She stabbed me right next to my spine on the same side as my heart. When I got to the hospital the doctors said that the coat I was wearing saved my life because the knife couldn’t get in deep enough.
My daughter was born a few months before my 18th birthday, but my partner was really abusive. He ended up getting arrested and locked up for a crime he’d committed. A friend then suggested to me that I got into lap dancing to make money. I was like, ‘Great, I can get money and at the same time get something that I crave the most - attention from men.’ So I got into dancing from the age of 19. It was horrible because I used to leave there and feel worse about myself. But about three years into it, I remember coming back from the strip club and putting my TV on. There was a station - 0135, I’ll never forget it - and it was UCB Radio. I remember listening to these words about Jesus and how He died for me, and how He wants to be a Father to the fatherless. I used to come home from the strip club and cry.
I thought, ‘I want to know this Father. I want to know this God that wants to be a Father to the fatherless, because I haven’t got one. I want to know this God that’s saying I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, because I don’t feel like I am.’
A year later, I was in the club and I remember having this overwhelming desire to go to church. I went to church the next morning, and I gave my life to Jesus. I never ever went back to the strip club, and never went back to that lifestyle.
My life’s completely changed. I’m not the person that I used to be. God’s shown me that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. He’s shown me that I’m accepted by Him. It’s made me know that I am special and I am loved by God. He’s also restored my relationship with my dad. I’m really close to him now. He’s restoring everything that was taken from me and everything that was broken. God’s brought it all back together, and given me more now than I ever had before.
Hear more from Chantell and watch her full story here.