Celia Mahone wasn’t in a great place.
A single mother in her early-30s, Mahone was working two jobs, but wasn’t happy with the life she was living. One of the few things that brought her joy was her baby son, William.
“I did not know I would love him as much as I did,” said Mahone, who called her own mother to apologize for not realizing how much her mother loved her until she understood the love of a mother for herself.
Still, life was a struggle for mom and child in Atlanta and Celia had a pair of co-workers who could sense she was having a tough time.
“They knew I was upset many mornings,” said Celia. “They would talk to me and at lunch, they would give me the money I needed to pay the gas bill or the electric bill.”
The women were active members of a church, but Celia, who had been raised in a faith-based home, had gotten away from her faith.
“They didn’t preach at me, they just met my need, which I thought was very odd,” Celia said of her co-workers.
Eventually, when her son was seven months old, Celia found herself at Creflo Dollar’s ministry and her life was changed completely.
“It was as if somebody had called the pastor and told him that I was coming,” Celia said. “He preached right at me and basically read my life and why I was where I was.
“That day, I just knew that I was where I was supposed to be and God was speaking to me. I didn’t miraculously have money fall out of the sky. I just learned to trust God and I mean it has been a trust. It’s not been easy, but He’s confirmed to me over and over that He loves me and He loves William and He’ll never leave us.”
It certainly wasn’t easy, and Celia still wasn’t in a great place, but her mind was in a great place.
“I had peace even though I couldn’t pay the bills,” she said. “I wasn’t about to have a breakdown or worrying constantly. I can’t even explain it. The bible says it’s a peace that passes all understanding. I just knew that He was God and that by accepting Jesus Christ, He was going to completely take care of us. All I can say is that our needs were met. It wasn’t over and above, but everything we needed was met.”
At times, Celia received help from her mother, sister and the rest of a very supportive Christian family.
“I have a wonderful family that has been here for us, but we struggled,” she said.
There were times when her family understood Celia had to go through some trials on her own. Celia’s faith was strengthened by the means in which some of her needs were met.
“There were just phenomenal miracles where I had absolutely no money,” she said. “I didn’t know how I was going to buy formula and I would pray, ‘God, I gave my life to you and I don’t know what to do.’ The next day, someone would walk up to me on the streets of Atlanta and say, ‘I don’t know you, but God told me to give you this,’ and it would be a $50 bill.
“I can remember one night crying, thinking, ‘I can’t put these shoes on his feet again, they’re too small.’ I went to work and a lady that worked with me said, ‘Here’s my credit card. I want you to take William to Stride Right and get him three pairs of shoes.’ I’m telling you, it was the very next day.”
That was the way Celia and her son lived for the first four years of William’s life.
“Living like that makes you grow in faith,” she said. “If He had just dropped money out of the sky, I think it would have been less of a trust walk. One thing God promises all of us is that we’ll have trials and we’ll have hard times no matter who we are. I’ve learned through my trials that I can be joyous, I can love people, I can love my enemies, and I can love the people that might have put me in this situation because God has it all under control.”
When William was four, Celia decided to move back to Austintown, Ohio to be closer to her mother and the rest of her family. Celia worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse and turned to God as she made decisions about her future.
“My goal was to go back and become an RN, but I prayed about it and I just didn’t want to miss any of William’s years growing up,” she said. “I knew that if I went back to school, I’d have to work full-time and I just wasn’t willing to give that up.”
She missed her church, but didn’t regret the decision to move home.
“I think it was ordained of God,” she said. “We needed to get back to family. After I learned the great lessons I learned, it was OK for me to come home.”
William enjoyed being close to his family and was welcomed by those in the neighborhood. He benefited from the presence of positive male role models in his life who brought him under their wings.
“It was cool,” William said of the people he met after moving. “I had a lot of good friends that had families and I’d spend days with them and sleepovers. I think all of the people in my life molded me into who I am today. I was blessed to be around a lot of good people.”
“The males in our family and the neighbors have been wonderful,” Celia said.
As William grew up, Celia got a chance to see the kind of child her son was becoming.
“He was a very, very good child,” she said. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had it any other way. He was very mindful, very obedient.”
Celia was very strict with her son about what he could watch on television and he would even call her to come pick him up if he was at friend’s house watching something he knew his mother wouldn’t approve of.
“Most kids wouldn’t do that,” she said.
“He would come home very upset if kids were teased in school. He would go to birthday parties of kids who weren’t well-liked and it would boost their morale if he went because William was always very well-liked.”
Celia didn’t take credit for the kindness of her son, though.
“He was a really, really good kid and above all, he really loved God and I think that’s what made him the good child that he was,” she said.
William gave his mother credit for guiding him in his faith.
“That’s just how I grew up,” he said. “She just ingrained it in me when I was young. It’s helped a lot, through everything, football and being a good person.”
Soon, William got involved in sports and excelled at baseball and basketball at an early age.
“I didn’t think football would be his thing,” she admitted. “He was pretty sensitive, but it’s just been William and I and I just attributed that to him being an only child with his mom.”
This is the first of a multi-part series. Click HERE to read Part II.