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Dad’s Vision Saved Her from Untimely Death

Shannon Woodland - 700 Club Producer
Danielle Thompson - 700 Club Producer

She was a budding tennis star, doing well in school and college bound - Kelly Lester had always walked the straight and narrow. As a pastor’s daughter, it was expected…it was her role.
Kelly explains, “People always said, ‘You're just like your dad. You're just like your dad.’ And so, there was this image of living up to be like him. I didn't want to disappoint him in that. And so I felt the same way about God; I was always afraid that I was gonna disappoint God.” 

It was the things she couldn’t control that would make that role much harder. At three years old, she was molested. While she has little memory of it, it robbed her of her innocence.

“One of my first memories as a child,” Kelly says, “is doing inappropriate things with dolls. And my mom walking in on that, horrified, and jumped into this, ‘What are you doing, why are you doing that?!’”

As she grew older and into puberty, she suppressed those feelings, saving herself for marriage. Then one night her freshman year, she sneaked out of the house and went to a party, and started making out with an older boy.

Kelly says, “And then he wanted to keep going and I did not. And so, yes, I fought back.”

But that didn’t stop him, and he raped her. Kelly told her friends, but they didn’t believe her. Too afraid to tell her parents, she confided in her youth pastor.

“And her response to me was, ‘If you'd never snuck out and gone to that party, that would have never happened,’” says Kelly.

Now believing she got what she deserved, Kelly walked away from God, angry and despondent.

She explains, “I never doubted that God existed, I just didn't think that I was gonna be good enough for Him to accept me. And so why try?”

That was all Kelly needed to give herself over to what she really wanted.

“I had that connection. Even if it was for a moment, you know, a boy liked me. I got attention and felt good about myself. And so I wouldn't ever admit to anything, because I still wanted that perception of being a good girl,” Kelly says.

At 15, she got pregnant. In an effort to save face and not disappoint her parents, Kelly had an abortion. What she didn’t count on was the anger, guilt and shame that followed.

“And that is what dramatically changed me,” says Kelly. “Because, you know, it went from being raped or being promiscuous, to killing my child. And I knew that that's what I was doing. And that day was the marked change from starting of rebellious, to going completely off the deep end.”

Kelly’s life revolved around partying. She stopped playing tennis, and plans for college were shelved. Ten years after graduation, she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. She would have three more abortions and live with violent men who beat her.

“I was violent back, says Kelly. “You know, I was breaking windows and throwing things and punching. I felt like I deserved it. I really did.”

Then, at 27 years old, Kelly called her father to come get her. It had been two days since she and her boyfriend had another violent fight, and he’d stopped just short of hitting her in the head with a two by four. 

Kelly recalls, “I quickly get in the car and I'm like, ‘Dad, I'm fine. I was in a car accident.’ And he looks at me and he says, ‘Kelly, two nights ago I was asleep, and I was woken up in the middle night by the Lord. And I had a vision of you laying dead on the floor with your head split wide open. And so I began to pray.’ And I realized at that moment, that moment when my boyfriend dropped the board, it was because of my father's prayers.”

Back home with her parents, Kelly started going to church. She says one day during a sermon, God spoke to her: “‘If you follow me, I will make beauty from ashes,” remembers Kelly. “All of the things that have happened in my life – being molested, being raped and the abortions and the abuse and the – how do You make that beautiful? And I just heard Him say it again, ‘If you follow me, I will make beauty from ashes.’ And I didn't believe Him, quite honestly. But at that point I was so desperate.”

Kelly continues, “I ran to the altar, fell on my face, and was a mess, asking for forgiveness and begging God to save me. One of the moms of the church came over and was talking to me and I said, ‘You know, I just don't have anywhere else to go. I don't know where else I'm gonna go. He is the only option I have left.’ And she was like, ‘Well, that's all you need, honey.’”  

Through prayer, reading the Bible and the support of friends who loved and cared for her, Kelly began to find healing.

She says, “Hearing God's truth and hearing what God says, I began to replace the lies that I believed as a child, you know, ‘I'm not good enough, I'm not valuable, I'm not worthy. I’m not-’ to, ‘well you are because I love you. And I sent my Son to die for you.’” 

Today, Kelly is married to Robbie and mother of six. She’s forgiven herself for the abortions and travels nationally as a sought-after pro-life speaker, hoping to reach others with a message of love.

“I am overwhelmed constantly by God's love,” Kelly says. “It's so good and so pure and so undeserved, unrelenting, limitless!”

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