From crack addict to Jesus follower: How one woman found healing after surrendering her life in jail

Janet Taylor Gwyn shares her testimony to Christ on a June 2024 episode of Delafé Testimonies, a Youtube channel with over 700K subscribers that aims to have the largest archive of Jesus testimonies. 
Janet Taylor Gwyn shares her testimony to Christ on a June 2024 episode of Delafé Testimonies, a Youtube channel with over 700K subscribers that aims to have the largest archive of Jesus testimonies.  | Screengrab: YouTube/Delafé Testimonies

After one woman's life spiraled so out of control that she became addicted to crack cocaine and resorted to prostitution to pay for drugs, she was arrested and served time in jail, where she cried out to God for salvation. 

Janet Taylor Gwyn never imagined she would have a life-changing encounter with God behind bars or that talking to her Savior would lead to lasting physical and spiritual healing that would forever change her life.

Gwyn shared her testimony for an episode of Delafé Testimonies, a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers that aims to have the largest archive of Christian testimonies. 

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In the episode, she shared how she went from using crack to becoming a faithful follower of Christ who walks in freedom from addiction and earned advanced college degrees.    

Born in the Bronx, New York, Gwyn said she was 4 years old when her mother died, and she and her sisters moved to North Carolina to be raised by their grandmother, whom she described as a God-fearing woman who taught the girls about Jesus. 

Five years later, her grandmother died, and the girls were sent to live with an aunt. Gwyn said that although her aunt raised her and her sisters in a Christian home, she didn’t have many Christian role models and witnessed ungodly acts in that household. 

“It was while I was living with my aunt that I started going to church and being in Sunday school and being around the kids and the church environment, singing in the choir. My aunt had her own children, and I was being molested by one of her children,” Gwyn recalled. 

“I didn't tell anybody because I didn't want to be separated from my sisters. I felt like that would cause a problem. I just kept this secret for a lot of years. By the time I was 14, I started dating, and right away, I became sexually active at the age of 14. It wasn't long before I became promiscuous.” 

By the time Gwyn was 16, she was experimenting with drugs, such as smoking marijuana. 

“By the time I graduated from high school, which was probably by the skin of my teeth ... in 1976 ... the plan from there was to join the Navy and see the world. And that's what I did. I joined the Navy and traveled, and I stayed in the Navy for six years,” Gwyn said.   

“After I got out of the Navy, I decided to embark on a modeling career, which I wasn't very successful in because I didn't have the financial backing. I did a lot of traveling at the time. I moved around quite a bit. I ended up in San Diego, California, and there I got heavily involved in crack cocaine.

“They called it freebasing, and I stayed in California for about a year to a year-and-a-half, and by the time I left California, I had a full-fledged addiction to crack cocaine. I had nowhere to live,” Gwyn said. 

“I decided to come back to the East Coast. I had a child while I was in the Navy. Then, I had another child out of wedlock. My life was really starting to deteriorate right before my eyes, but I kept making geographical relocations, thinking that if I could just get to this particular place, things would be better. … The problem was not in the places; the problem was in me. But it would take me many years before I would realize that.” 

As she continued in her cocaine addiction, Gwyn said her next relocation was to Florida, where she got involved with an abusive man with whom she had her third child.  

“I began prostituting for cocaine, and I lived this way for about four years while I was in Florida. I left Florida on probation. I had a judge that just literally sent me home. He said, ‘If I let you go home, you promise not to come back to Florida.’ … He released me from jail. I got my baby and came back home,” Gwyn said. 

“I thought again, if I can just get home, things will be better. … I still had this habit. I had to find my ways and means to get more drugs.” 

Gwyn said she went back onto the streets of her hometown and was a street prostitute for several years.   

“I was just in and out of jail ... I continued living this way until 1994. I had been in jail many other times before. … Whenever I got out, I went back to my old ways. But this time, in 1994, something really phenomenal took place in my life,” Gwyn said. 

“I met the Lord Jesus in jail, and it was the last place I expected Him to be. But He was there.” 

One day, while working laundry duty in jail, Gwyn said she heard a Gospel song on the radio and broke down and started praying to God for forgiveness. 

“I just began to weep. I just felt like, they're singing my song. I put the laundry down, and I walked over to the radio, and I began to just pour my heart out to God. I began to tell him that I was sorry. And I began to ask Him to forgive me and not to let me die and go to Hell. Because this particular time was different from any other time I had been to jail. I was at the point of death,” Gwyn said. 

“Little did I know, God had a plan for my life this time. This was going to be it. I did believe this was going to be it. I began to cry out to God. I asked him to save me. I had this conversation with Him. I said, ‘I know my grandmother prayed to you, and she talked to you, and that was real, but I don't know if you're real.’ I asked the Lord to reveal Himself to me. ‘Just save me. Just give me another chance and save me,’ and He did.” 

Ever since she cried out in prayer to God, Gwyn said He has blessed her abundantly and rescued her and she has been sober for 30 years. 

Although she lost custody of her three children when she was still grappling with her addictions, Gwyn said she has since reached out to all three of her children seeking their forgiveness, and today she has a relationship with all three of them. 

God has also opened up doors for educational opportunities and job advancement in her life. 

“I became a teacher after being a prostitute on the street. I became a high school English teacher. God allowed me to go to college and graduate after four years to become a high school English teacher. And then, after teaching for four years, I went back to school, got my master's degree and became a principal of a Christian school,” Gwyn said.  

“Then, after that, He blessed me to go back to school and get my doctorate. Now, we're talking about a prostitute, a crack-addicted street prostitute to becoming Dr. Janet Taylor Gwen today. But none of that could have happened without the blood of Jesus,” she declared.  

“It all starts with Jesus. When you put your life in His hand, you will be so amazed at what He creates, what He does. What He brings out of the mess and out of the rottenness. You'll be so amazed at how He transforms all of that into a masterpiece for His namesake, and for His glory. This is what I want people to know.”

Nicole VanDyke is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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