I met Devaughn in September 2014 in Nashville, TN, a day in which the temperature read high 80s but it felt like the low 100s. He seemed quiet but confident moving through the crowd at our church’s national youth convention. I admit, I was hot so I didn’t bother to make conversation but after connecting on social media, I knew I wanted to hear more of his testimony. If I never believed God was able to meet people where they are, Devaughn Stephenson, made me a believer.
As church people, we often forget God can save anyone, anywhere, at any time. We put limitations on what God can do and how. In our minds in order to get the Holy Ghost you have to have a lifetime membership at a particular church or certain people in your family need to be spiritual. We think you can only get it if you are at a church or during a state convention or a revival, but that is not how it happened for Devaughn.
Growing up, he never went to church, didn’t know much about prayer, was just going through life Godless, but at eighteen years old he had decided to start going to church. At this time in his life, he had just loss his best friend to gun violence, and a few days later, his younger sister passed away. Most of us can’t imagine going through one loss, only to have to face a second loss in a matter of days, but this was reality for Devaughn. To cope with his pain and relieve some of the stress that comes with loss, Devaughn did what seemed logical to him in those situations: smoked a blunt.
Although he had never read the bible’s description of hell, during this high God revealed to Devaughn what life would be like in hell. From demonic torment and internal crying out to the rocks to fall on him and kill him, to the infestation of maggots, it was a physical pain and misery he could not compare to anything. He distinctly remembered hearing, “If you don’t turn your life around and give it to me, this is where you’ll spend eternity.” He begged and pleaded with God to spare his soul. He kept asking his friends if they heard/experienced what was happening and trying to explain to them that they couldn’t keep doing the same thing; they all needed to change, but they were uninterested in doing anything different. Initially, Devaughn thought this was just a strange dream, but after this experience, he decided to stop smoking and ended up turning to drinking, which, of course, didn’t make anything better. He tried to pick smoking back up but it just wasn’t the same. Eventually, Devaughn would give up everything before he received the Holy Ghost.
Fast forward eight months after Devaughn joined his church (initially he started attending church, trying to get in good with the family of a girl he liked, but after experiencing the loss of his best friend and his younger sister, he wanted answers from God and later joined for the right reasons), he was at home and getting ready to go to his girlfriend’s house when something told him to go back inside. Unsure of what it was but obedient nonetheless, Devaughn went back to his room. As he lay down in his room he started to get goose bumps and thinking he was cold, he tried to get under the covers but he heard the voice of the Lord say, you’re not cold. Then, his stomach felt weird and he thought he might throw up but that same voice said you don’t have to throw up.
The Spirit started to reveal things to Devaughn and one thing in particular that stands out was God telling him, “I don’t love, I am love.” This was a big deal for someone who had experienced so much hurt and loss; the concept of love almost seemed foreign. It was as though the scales were falling from his eyes, as described in Acts 9:18. Although he did not realize it in the moment, his life was forever changed that night. The following Sunday, Devaughn’s pastor talked about the Holy Ghost and as she began describing what it is and how your body responds to it, Devaughn realized she was describing his experience; he had received the Holy Ghost.
I asked Devaughn the following questions relating to his experience of being in Christ and here are his answers in his own words:
How has life changed since you have been saved?
Before, life was a constant cycle of stress, depression, anger & misery. The scars from my childhood birthed a monster and I had to live with those demons daily… Suicidal thoughts, drug addiction, kleptomania, sex addiction, what I would call “a heart of a killer,” and countless other deeply embedded sins. I became so used to these things that around the age of eight, it became a natural part of me. It became my life. But now, with God’s Spirit dwelling within me, I’m never lost. I’m never depressed. I literally know and converse with the Creator of the universe on an extremely personal level. That brings me great peace and joy. The closer I get to God the less room there is for anything not of Him. My life is the exact opposite of the one I used to live. I have been supernaturally delivered from the wanting of those things that God opposes (which makes life a lot easier). Now, I actually enjoy life.
Is being saved difficult?
I have two words to describe this life: Beautiful Struggle.
It’s beautiful because what God gives you is worth more than anything. I can’t physically express how glorious He is on a daily basis. But on the other hand it is a struggle because the majority of the planet hates what you stand for or they are on the fence, so they don’t support you either way (John15). I have even lost my closest friends for God’s sake, but God tells us that from the very beginning. I didn’t really believe that it would happen that way but that just goes to show you that God’s Word always stands true. If you let the Holy Spirit guide you, you will have all you need and you’ll be able to get through anything. But let me reassure you that my greatest loss for Christ doesn’t come close to my most minimal gain from Him.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy traveling, watching SportsCenter and hanging out by the water (Sidenote: I had to force this out of him, acting like all he did was go to school and church lol)
What do you do for a living?
Currently in school studying psychology
I’m an extremely picky eater. Before I eat something I don’t have the taste for, I’d rather starve. If it doesn’t look a certain way, I can’t eat it. If I’m eating a certain type of sandwich, it has to be on a certain type of bread. Sad, I know (the struggle is so real lol).
Devaughn is truly a man who lives out the life he talks about; he is a living testimony. I am forever grateful to Devaughn for being so transparent and genuine (and for putting up with me harassing him with multiple questions lol). Thank you for allowing God to use you so that others may see Him.
Devaughn’s twitter and instagram: @Sanctified_Og