Thankful Through the Storm: Dashawn Francis
DaShawn Francis was born and raised in the infamous Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. After giving his life to Jesus in 2010, he felt that his life was meant for more than the ways he had previously been living. He quickly found a church in the Glendale, Queens neighborhood, in which he would spend the next 5 years learning and being trained in urban ministry by leaders and mentors. It was there that he found his passion for like: people. What started as an outstanding love for teaching and shaping young children grew into a passion to lead people of all ages. DaShawn's voice on social media platforms, as well as other avenues provides a boisterous and encouraging freshness that is uplifting and challenging. His words are often woven with Christian principles that even the layman can appreciate. Currently, he is actively pursuing a life of missionary work at the Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. In his free time, he enjoys talks with his many siblings, Torah observant research, and classic movies.
Tell me about a time in your life where you felt as though you were in a storm.
It'd be easier to tell you about a time when i WASN'T in a storm, haha. Man, these last few 18-24 months have been the toughest of my walk/life with Christ yet. I'm still in my storm. A lasting one. From lust, being disobedient, sleeping around in the church, being hurt by leadership in the church, finances amok anger, battling deep depression and suicidal thoughts, to struggling spiritually but trying to remain saint-like in a household where I'm the only believer and trying to maintain an example of Christ- I can say that this was a year that I finally broke down completely. I've dealt with each of these things individually, but never all at once. I shut down. I felt rejected by the church and thus rejected by Yahweh.
At what point in your life was being thankful second nature?
Oh, man! You'll laugh when you read this, but that hadn't happened until about a week and a half ago! I finally got to the place where I prayed, "Your will be done" and actually meant it. That awkward moment when you think you're at rock-bottom and then - BOOM! - sike, a trap door. That's what it was like. I had hit the lowest low, and then found myself finally finally finally meeting Yahweh. I felt Him saying, "Well it's about time!" All that to say, I became thankful when I became desperate.
At the best, most financially stable point in my life, had you asked me if I'd eat food out of the garbage, I would've looked at you like you were crazy. But back in 2013, when I was broke and starving and ACTUALLY eating out of the garbage, you couldn't tell me anything. My point being: when you're DESPERATE you don't care how you look; you don't care what you have to do to get what you need - you just do it. I got to the point where I was so desperate and degenerate that I finally cried out to Yahweh and said, "Okay, I'm here. I'm broken. What do I need from You and how do I get it???? I don't care what I have to do! I just want out of this hell."
When did you find yourselffinding hope through your circumstance?
Hope. Man, that's a word I've found and lost the definition of countless times. My problem was that I had my hope in the wrong things. I'd say it was in Yahweh, but only because it was he right thing to say.
"My hope is in You...but I kinda still want this, Lord."
I laugh when I think of my old prayers. I found hope when I realized that Yahweh is really Elohim. Like, He's REALLY God. And He's not JUST God, but He's a Father. I had a warped reality and understanding of what a father was. I had to get in the Word and READ about what a father was, and learn that there are bad fathers and good fathers. He was the latter. It's a cool thing to read and sing, but when you get the revelation from the Holy Spirit that He's actually your Father - and a good one! - boy, does your hope soar! My problem was never ever ever an, "Is God real?" thing; it was a, "Man, is He really FOR me, though?" type of thing. Once I realized that He was, it changed things DRASTICALLY.
How did focusing on the good change your situation for you?
Focusing on the good allowed me to show both myself and Yahweh that not only was I grateful, but that I trusted Him. Trusting Him allowed me to make room for more. I don't care how many times you pray a prayer, if you don't believe it, He doesn't believe it. The Word says, "..without faith it is impossible to please God"..so I went and got some! I decided that I would read about who He said He was and BELIEVE Him! As I focused on and became thankful for what He's done already, it helped me to think, "Well, He did that before; why would He listen and ignore me now?" It sounds so simple, but it took a while to manifest.
What are you most thankful for now?
I am most thankful that Yahweh isn't like me. More than anything, He has shown me His patience. He showed me that He'd wait as long as I took (and that I should do the same for others). He showed me that no matter how many times my lack of trust and faith called Him a liar, He still loved me and knew I'd get it right. He showed me that no matter how often I'd lie, cheat, fornicate, or doubt, that He's unmoving and unchanging. He showed me that no matter how much I'd go back on my word, His Word was unfailing and unwavering. He's not who He is based on who I'm deciding I want to be today.
What advice would you give to others who are going through the storm?
Man, don't you lose that grip. I've gone MONTHS just barely holding on to the thinnest thread on His robe. It happens. You never know when it's going to end, but you know that He's real and that He has the answer.
Get. In. The. Word.
Not a sermon, not a devotional, not a Christian book written by your favorite pastor, not a blog (no offense, Jo). His loving, breathing Word. Read about who He is, and see that He is good. If you don't believe, cool; that can be worked on. That's a different problem. But if you know that you know that you know Yahweh is real, it's simple: just remember who He is. When I was at my lowest, ready to jump off the ledge of a building, pleading for a sign and for Him to let up a little, I couldn't do it. I just knew for sure that He was real. I just did. And as hopeless and broken as I was, I just couldn't get the image of His face out of my mind. I knew He was real, so I knew that I couldn't end things on my terms. I even felt like a wuss because I'm like, "Dang, DaShawn, you can't even do suicide right??" But I knew the God I had experienced before, and I knew the God that I was constantly reading about.
In the Old Testament, our patriarchs would build altars out of stones so that they'd remember when and where they met with Yahweh whenever He did something miraculous. My modern-day equivalent to that is journaling. The enemy comes to ROB. He wants you to think that what you experienced before is a lie or not as big as your brain is remembering. He wants to rob you of your experience - and quickly too! But when you're in the next storm and you're looking back, reading your own words, no lie from Satan and no doubtful thought of your own can tell you that the God you serve didn't meet you. Journal it. Write down every word He says, every good thing He's done, and just know that He isn't a liar.
Embrace the storm.
Don't ask for it to end early or for you to get taken out abruptly. You'll be the same 'ol weak, struggling, masturbating, broken, lying, untrustworthy degenerate person you were before the storm. Know that He SEES and HEARS you, and that as a Father, He wants to intervene SO badly, but He can't because it'll cripple you. The answer, the freedom, the healing, the money, the breakthrough will come when it's supposed to. The purpose of the storm isn't to get out - it's to get something out of us.
I would like to thank DaShawn for being so honest, and vulnerable. It is not easy to be as transparent as he was in this interview. I pray that this post gives you hope, and encourages you to be thankful through the storm.
DaShawn can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Social Media using the following handles:
Facebook: DaShawn Francis