AOR Member


I grew up without a father. Along with my four siblings, I was taken from my mother when I was six and raised by my mentally unstable grandmother. The only love and comfort in my life would come from my sisters. We did practically everything together, from playing pretend to talking about our first periods, where babies came from and getting out of this “hell hole” as my youngest sister would call it. We were constantly being called “stupid” and “Bimbo.” After a while, it begins to stick with you and causes you to shutdown or in my case, acting out.

When I turned sixteen, I finally found an escape from our abusive environment. Shortly after I got a part-time job, I was back living with the person I should have been with from the beginning: my mother.  When I moved in with my mom I had already made up in my mind that I was going to do whatever I wanted, as long as I was going to school and working.  I wasn’t going to let her tell me anything. I started hanging out late, partying and smoking weed with people I considered my friends, trying to figure out who I was.

With all this going on, my life started spinning out of control.  Then I met my first love.  I was so in love, and I thought he felt the same way because he took me away from the city to eat and dance.  He showered me with gifts and constantly told me how much he loved me.  At my age, I was head over heels and what more could I ask for.  At times I would be gone from home for weeks and my mother would put out a missing person’s report.  When I did finally come home, I’d find mom crying on the porch with her neighbor.  But it didn’t matter to me.  I had found someone who loved me and said he would never abandon me.  But one afternoon I was alone at his house and started snooping around some of his papers and noticied his car registration.  Some numbers caught my eye 13 and 60.  Oooh! 1960 was the year my mother was born.  This man was the same age as my mom! I was shocked, angry, and disgusted!  I had been sleeping with my “dad,” so to speak.  It wasn’t long before my mom found out, called the police, had him arrested, and charged with statutory rape.  Because a big part of me still loved this man I was upset with her.  Then I found out I was pregnant.  I was taken out of school and had an abortion.

That was the end of my first love, but I was still searching for someone to love and someone to love me.  Love was the biggest thing missing from childhood.  I can only recall maybe four or five times my grandmother told me she loved me and even less from my mom.  I eventually moved on and fell in love with another man who I was certain was just as in love with me. I got pregnant again, and soon we were driving down to North Carolina with another couple and stayed with their family until we got our own place.  I didn’t know anyone there, but I finally got a job and worked until I gave birth to our first son.  Two days after we came home from the hospital, his father got sent to jail.  I ended up on Public Assistance.   When he got out, I thought we would be one big happy family full of love.  But I was wrong.  He came home drunk, pounding out his frustration on my face and body.  I began making excuse for his abuse to me and blamed myself.  I remember a time when I was six months pregnant with our second son.  He had come that evening smelling like someone had poured alcohol all over him.  When I tried to help him into the bed, he snapped, jumping out of the bed so fast it scared me.  I ran into the bathroom and peeked out at him.  He grabbed the broom in the corner and started banging on the door.  I screamed and cried as he thrust the broom through the door and rammed it into my stomach.  I vomited blood.  The next morning he didn’t remember any of it.  All he ever said to me was that I would never leave him, that I needed him, and that no man would ever want me because I had two children.    

I vomited blood.  The next morning he didn’t remember any of it.  All he ever said to me was that I would never leave him, that I needed him, and that no man would ever want me because I had two children.  Being young and naïve, I believed him.  Before long I got pregnant with our third child.  We lost our apartment in North Carolina and moved back to Washington, DC to live with his family.  Now all of us were staying in a three bedroom apartment with his father and his two sisters (one was pregnant) and their boyfriends.  There wasn’t any room and the house stayed filthy.  I couldn’t really see anything positive in my life-until my sister invited me to attend church services with her.  When she offered a different environment for a few hours, I jumped at the chance to take my kids and get out of that house and away from all those people.  It had been a while anyway since I went to church.

Armor of Righteousness turned out to be a youth and young  adult ministry.  Everyone seemed so friendly and helpful.  That day I heard the Pastor Marita Mclain talk about stepping out of the box, about going in circles over and over again only to get the same outcome.  She said not to be afraid of change because God wants to bless us and help us live more abundantly.  I was really moved by what God spoke thorough her and started wondering if he could work in my life and give me peace and joy.  So, I kept attending sunday school and church service.  Ms. Mclain often called me aside to ask what was going on in my life.  God blessed her with a gift, and she always knew what was wrong before I even opened my mouth.  I watched as she picked up the children from their homes in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia faithfully every Sunday morning.  Sometimes it took three hours.  The van would be so packed you couldn’t see out of the windows, and everyone was laughing and joking.  I felt so comfortable, and for the first time in my life I felt I was loved and that I belonged.

My situation at home hadn’t changed though.  My children and I were still living with their grandfather and his family, and their father was still abusive to me, verbally and physically.  I wanted to escape, and at times wished that I could die.  But my Pastor told me to keep bringing my children out to fellowship with them, and everyone in the ministry encouraged me to continue to be faithful, trust in the Lord, and continue to read my Bible.  On the van, I heard stories form the other kids that were similar or worse than mine, and that explained to me how they knew what I was feeling.  A lot of them had grown up in AOR, but some were younger than me.  All of them had life-changing experiences after attending church regularly and becoming closer to God.  In church they gave wonderful testimonies of being blessed with jobs and bonuses, finding apartments and cars, and getting scholarships for college (there are two now that have graduated—and they still come to church, and one on the way to college in September with several offers).  I couldn’t wait til I could give a testimony about something good that happened in my life.  I began praying more at home and trying to get some of the people in the house to attend church, especially my children’s father.  Nothing had changed with him; in fact, it had gotten worse.  Now he was doing drugs and alcohol.  When Public Assistance found out how many people were living in the grandfather’s apartment, we all got thrown out.  The sisters and their boyfriends moved into the grandfather’s new place, a one-bedroom apartment.  Me and the kids went with their father to the office where he worked.  When his boss come one evening and found all of us in the office basement, he told me and the kids we had to go.  Now I was scared, with no place to go.  I began crying out to the Lord.  I had four children now, and we walked outside in the cold until we reached a shelter.  They took us in that night, and we stayed for three and half months. 

Through all this Ms. Mclain continued ministering to me and encouraging me.  She told me to continue to pray and also taught me about sacrificing to the Lord by fasting.  She told me that the Lord had something special for my family and that he was testing my faith.  Armor of Righteousness continued to be a second family to me and my kids.  The church took trips to Sight and Sound to see plays like “Ruth” and to Evangel Cathedral  to see big productions like “Fire and Ice.”  We took skiing trips to the Poconos and even went to Disney World, places a lot of inner-city kids probably would never get to see.

When I look at this ministry,  I see that we are truly blessed.  I am so grateful that they took me and my children just the way we were.  I thank God every day for choosing Ms. Mclain to speak with me about my life and keep from giving up.  I finally ended up getting a beautiful three-bedroom  apartment.  God blessed me with all the furniture for my place and a Target shopping spree for all my household goods.  I have gotten back in school, and God is opening doors for me to attend college.  Now I have a testimony, and I told it one Sunday.  I told how God has blessed me with all these good things and how this is the beginning of my new life.

AOR Member
I was born February 7, 1988 in Washington, DC. My mother gave birth to eight children. In my journey through life so far, I have witnessed miracles Jesus has done before my very own eyes. But before I tell you where He has presently, let me tell you from whence He's brought me.
Between the ages of four to nine I was raised in neglect and went to foster care. My siblings and I were split up throughout several different foster homes. Viewing the love of other families only made me question my love of my family. I never knew the extent of why we were all separated until in 1996 my grandmother, gained full custody of me. My grandmother is a firm believer in instilling the love of Jesus in a child from earliest age so that as you become older you will never neglect His word.
I joined Armor of Righteousness in 1999. AOR is a youth ministry led by the pastor and her daughter. AOR has a mission to help inner city youth use all our potential and outgrow poverty and overcome adversity. This ministry has changed my life for the better. After I did a study of black males in Washington, D.C. and saw the increasingly depressing numbers of those who are incarcerated or deceased at an early age, I couldn't help but recognize my good fortune not to be one of these statistics. I figure that my accomplishments are extraordinary for a young man my age. On May 8, 2010, I became the first one in my family to graduate from college. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Throughout my undergraduate years I received numerous academic scholarships to cover my tuition and college living expenses. At present I am a manager at TGI Friday, a restaurant cooperation. I still keep coming to Armor of Righteousness not only because it's where I get my spiritual food but because we are family who laughs together and goes places together-like the Poconos, Disney World, and Virginia Beach for recreation weekends. AOR challenges us to excel in spite of our circumstances. I stay close because I can call and talk to my pastor about anything. It is the place that keeps me believing "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)
AOR's Rejean meets President Obama

]Recent Maury Elementary School 5th grade graduate, Reje'an Lawton, is one blessed kid. Through his active participation in the Metro Warrior's STEM Program, Reje'an was selected to visit the White House and attend a signing of legislation, in the Oval Office, that would enhance the education for African Americans through STEM. Each student in this program are mentor by professional engineers and engineering students on how to work of mechanical, electrical, and computer and industrial engineering. The students design the robot of their choice and learned programming and logic. They are the Robotics regional champions, and have won national awards through the, excelling in this program.