ORANGE COUNTY, CA (ANS) -- In his latest feature, Dan Wooding interviews Lee Ezell who, after suffering a brutal rape, discovered she was pregnant. She chose to give up her child for adoption and, twenty years later, she received an unexpected phone call that brought Lee and her daughter Julie together again for a remarkable friendship that was bonded together by their faith in Jesus Christ. Lee Ezell is a remarkable woman who has turned her pain into victory. But it has been quite a struggle for her, even from her early days.

“The inner-city area of Philadelphia in which I was raised had many challenges,” she said in an interview. “Both my mother and father were alcoholics, and I was born as one of their five daughters. I imagine I was a great disappointment to my dad as he looked forward to Lee, his son, and let me know I was an unwanted child. My father lived mostly in the basement of our home (which was plastered with pornographic pictures), and he would emerge in great fits of anger. We were battered and abused, and domestic violence calls were the norm.”

Lee explained that there was no religious influence in her early days. “We practiced no religion in my family, really, and the whole religion thing was confusing to me anyway,” she said. “But one night, I noticed an ad for a Billy Graham Crusade at the convention center in downtown Philly; I thought this would surely be good for a few laughs. And because we did not have a fourth for pinochle (honestly), three of us went to the meeting to check it out. Sitting way up in the peanut gallery, I thought the best thing was hearing that grand old Gospel singer Ethel Waters as she belted out a new song (to me) entitled 'His Eye is On the Sparrow'. My heart began to soften.

“By the time Dr. Graham spoke, I was impressed with how confident he seemed in what he had to say. And as he went through the Bible, I understood this was not just his personal philosophy or opinion. Apparently his confidence came from the scriptures he read which so clearly showed me that no one can get religion from their parents (as I thought), because God has no grandchildren. And he was clear that you don't get 'it' just by spending time in church (if I lived in a garage would that make me a car?).

“I could see it clear as day; becoming a Christian could only be an individual transaction between Christ and me. And though no one else would join me, I ran down those steps to the front, anxious to receive this Divine Implant, this incorruptible seed inside my heart. After tearfully praying the simple prayer, I instinctively knew it 'took' and things would be different for me now.

“But conditions at my abusive home had not changed. I was beginning to learn that God is not a fairy godfather in the sky who waves his magic wand and makes everything right for his children. No rose garden is promised. So as I graduated from high school at age 17, I took a bus to the West Coast 'cause all those beautiful California people I'd seen on TV looked so wonderful (from a distance!)”.

Lee found an apartment in San Francisco with her mother and two little sisters, and started in on her first job nearby as a typist.

That Fateful Night

“I was faithfully filling out my 'follow-up' Bible studies from the Graham organization, and was finally becoming familiar with God through His Word,” she said. “I couldn't figure out which kind of a church was in line with what I was learning, so I just stuck with my Graham studies; I felt like a whole new life was opening up for me -- until that fateful night I was raped. “I had met this salesman at work in the morning, and he would rape me that night. A large and overpowering man, at least 20 years my senior, I was in shock. Only others who have been victims of sexual assault can relate to the shock and trauma I experienced. But as I escaped that night I promised myself I'd go to my grave with this secret. I couldn't let anyone know that I was a loser. Typically, this victim felt guilty.