Creflo Dollar - I Have HIV
Creflo: My guest today was diagnosed with an incurable disease she was told would end her life, and she's been hiding the truth about it ever since. So, please help me welcome Sanova to "Your World" today.
Creflo: We call this show "Your World", and I remember talking to the producers a few years ago saying I wanted something that was organic, raw, and authentic, and so I'm asking you to take us into your world. You have this announcement that you want people to know. You have finally come to the place where you're able to talk about it.
Creflo: So, what is that announcement?
Sanova: I have HIV.
Creflo: Okay, and so take us into your life. Talk to me about your relationships. Let's start back there now and let's walk through this process.
Sanova: I could say I was a woman that was looking for love, looking for love in all the wrong places, and looking for love from men, thinking that they can validate me, and that's all I wanted. I wanted someone to love me. I wanted someone to say, "I understand you. I understand your pain. I understand what you is going through". And I met this guy that told me he loved me, so in my mind, oh, he love me, now I wanna have a baby. And if I had this baby, this baby gonna love me unconditionally, so that's what I sought out to do. And so, in this relationship, I had a baby, and I thought that that was gonna be what I needed, but it wasn't. I went through other men, thinking that I would get the love. Instead I got abused, guns pulled out on me, and stuff like that.
Creflo: Somebody pulled a gun on you?
Sanova: Yeah, pulled a gun out on me.
Creflo: With the intent to what?
Sanova: Fear, intimidation.
Creflo: So, you encountered men that wanted to control you and dominate you.
Sanova: Yeah, they saw the hurt and they feel, "I can manipulate that because she's hurting. She'll do anything to feel love, so I'm gonna tell her what she wanna hear. I'm sorry. You know I love you. I didn't mean to". And then you be like, "Okay, I love you too".
Creflo: You know, it's just kinda strange. We just finished taping that show, and one of the issues that came up is the fact that how you can have people who can see the hurt in other people, and then they try to go and take advantage of people because they see that they're hurt. And you're telling me that not only did you draw people that wanted to exploit your situation, but you got into verbal abuse, physical abuse, being threatened with a gun, and that was certainly not what you thought you would find on this journey. You're looking for love.
Sanova: I'm looking for love.
Creflo: And instead, you found a bunch of abuse. So, let's back up just for a moment. Walk us through how you found out that you had contracted HIV.
Sanova: I had mental issues where the point where I wanted to kill myself.
Creflo: Very suicidal?
Sanova: I was very suicidal. And I went to my daughter and I told her. I said, "Tomorrow morning, I'm gonna get up and I'm gonna go to the emergency room, 'cause if I don't, I'm gonna kill myself. You're not gonna have a mother, 'cause I'm gonna kill myself, and I need to get some help". So, I went and sought help, and they did some, you know, blood work. And they wasn't looking for HIV, they was just looking. They said, "Well, your platelets is down. Something is going on and we wanna look at your liver". You know, they went looking for my liver, and they said, "Okay, nothing's wrong. You're fine". He said, "Do you mind just taking an HIV test"? and I was like, "Sure". I did.
So, I went, got the HIV test. And the lady that came in the room to tell me I had HIV, she walked in the room, she had my folder in her hand, and she walked in the room, she opened it up, and she said, "Well, everything look okay. Oh, you have HIV". She closed the folder, she set it on the bed that you lay on, and she stood there and she just stared at me. And I'm staring at her because I'm not comprehending what she's saying to me. What? And she just kept looking at me, and I'm just like, "What"? And then she said, "Okay, now I want you to go to down the hall, talk to this doctor. He's gonna get you some blood work to do and you gonna do, you know, fill out paperwork and all that". I did all of that.
Soon as I went to the elevator to push that down button is when it all flooded and I cried, and I said, "God, why me? Why would you put this on me? I'm a good person. I don't hurt nobody. I don't do nobody wrong. I'm not nasty. I'm not mean. Why me"? I said, "Did you do this for people, for I can be a punching bag? 'Cause you know, I'm already a punching bag. People just seem to wanna punch on me. Is you doing this for more people to hate me, more people to make me an outcast? Why"? And I just stood, and the elevator door opened, and I just stood there and I couldn't even get on the elevator. I just stood there and I just, "Why"?
Creflo: Why do bad things happen to good people?
Creflo: And that's been a question that people have asked over the generation, of why do bad things seem to happen to good people? Did you ever get an answer where that is concerned, something that you were satisfied with?
Sanova: No, I just realized that this is just gonna be who I am. This is just a part of me. This is what God have ordained in my life, and I had to find a way to deal with it, to accept it. And it took me years to accept it.
Creflo: Yeah, well, let me explain something to you. A lot of time, God gets the bad rap for bad things that happen, but he's not the only person in the story. There's a devil loose.
Sanova: Called Satan.
Creflo: Yeah, he comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy. And he's obviously been on an assignment to try to destroy your life ever since you've been a little girl, because obviously there is something about you that is gonna be a blessing to other people. There's something about you that is going to bring deliverance to people. There's something about you that's gonna remove burdens and destroy yokes. And before you discover that about yourself, before you discover that about yourself, you know, what he often does is try to come and try to just mess it all up. And the miracle is that even after he tried to do everything to devastate your confidence, and the call of God on your life, and all that, here you sit, looking like a successful, brave woman. You understand what I'm saying?
So, God's not mad at you, he's not in a bad mood where you're concerned, and he didn't have nothing to do with this, but he's certainly gonna have a lot to do with bringing you through to the place where you've been searching for. Let's talk about some of those real feelings that you had for the one that was responsible for causing this to happen to you. What does that say to you? What have you learned, the fact that in my search for love, and since I got sloppy, and did I settle for something I didn't have to settle for, and what could I have done differently?
Creflo: I know.
Sanova: Ooh, it took a long time to forgive him, 'cause there was a lot of hate. I hated him, 'cause he did it on purpose.
Creflo: See, that bothers me, and you know, it's illegal too. You know, if the guy's ever found, he's going to jail. You can't do that. You just can't do that, and yet there's still people who think, I don't know, out of ignorance or just being stupid, that they can do that kind of thing. And so, I think we understand the emotions that you would experience and the fact that you would find out that somebody would do this to you on purpose, and yet there's even a deeper issue where the enemy's trying to say, "I am utterly gonna destroy you emotionally so you will never be able to be used by God". So, we're not judging you concerning the emotions you have for someone that would do this to you, but it helps us when you bring us into your world. So, go ahead and continue. I get it.
Sanova: When I first told him, it was a very coldness. First, he said he didn't mean to, he would never do anything like that to hurt me. And I kinda believed it in a way, until God brought someone that was in his life to me. She found me on Facebook and she let me know that he knew he had it, his mama knew, and his brother knew. And I was like, "Who would let somebody give somebody something like this and don't say anything"? And they rationalized it, "Well, we didn't know for sure and it was a rumor", and you know, but y'all knew, but y'all didn't let me in on the joke. That's how I looked at it, 'cause y'all played a joke on me. Y'all didn't let me know and you took my decision away on whether or not I wanted to be with you or not, so you just took my life and you just gonna steer it where you wanted it to go. 'Cause this is not something that I would wish on no one. It's the hardest path to walk. And when you tell people, they can be real cruel, real. I have had some of the cruelest things to be said to me.
Creflo: Like what?
Sanova: I told one guy, he wanted to date. And after I had got choked with this guy, I had made my mind up that I wasn't gonna be in no more relationships until I fix myself, and I was gonna let God find my husband and not me look for my husband. So, I met this guy and I know where he was going with trying to be with me, you know, trying to get me over his house. So, I knew where he was going, so I asked him. I said, "How can you invite me to your bed when you don't even know who I am? You don't know who I am. You don't know what I got, where I've been". He said, "What you trying to tell me"? So, I told him, "I have HIV". "Well, what can I do with you without killing myself"?
You know, and I was like, "Um, what you mean"? I said, "Okay, since you gonna get smart", I said, "let's ask a question. How many women have you been with"? He said, "Oh, I've been with a few". I said, "Okay, well, let's say you've been with 100 women. Out of all them 100 women that you've been with, how many of 'em did you know had HIV? They could have slept with you and not told you". And he just stood there and looked at me, and I said, "But I'm telling you I have HIV, and you gonna get angry". I mean, he said some words that I cannot repeat on TV, but it was like a slap on my face and a punch in my gut that I'm trying to be honest and trying to inform you of what you're getting yourself into, but you turned the tables and made it look like I'm the bad person.
Creflo: And I guess that honesty also brought you face to face with the reality that no matter how bad that hurts, there's a level of truth involved in it as well. It's insane, man. It's painful to hear this. It's painful to hear your journey to set yourself up to be a doormat, you know, to try to find love. And I think, here's what the Bible says, and it's so awesome. It says that he loved us first so he can enable us to love other people. And if we don't ever get to the point where we can believe his love, you know, you have to believe God's love. I believe God loves me. And when you believe God loves you, then he equips you to walk in the results of what it's like to be loved. Now, were you at a time so depressed that you wouldn't even come outside? You were very limited in fellowshipping sometimes, only just to eat and to do the necessities because you were just so depressed about...
Creflo: HIV. It brought on the depression. It magnified your loneliness, your self-esteem, and just everything was just shot. So, tell us how Jesus made the difference, to give you the boldness to come here on this television show and to share this powerful testimony with the world right now, I mean, for you to be here right now. And I have to congratulate you because it takes a really strong person to come here and share the pain of this testimony that you're sharing. And you can answer that, and then I want you to give a warning to people that are watching the broadcast.
Sanova: Last year, God kept telling me, "It's time for you to take care of yourself", because I was always the kind of person that put everybody before me. Whatever that person need in their life, I was the one that did it, and I always put myself last, down to babysitting my grandkids for my daughter. You know, just doing stuff for people to make their life easy. And so, one day I was sitting at my daughter's house, and he said, "You watching her kids and you're not living your life. When are you gonna live your life? When are you gonna put yourself first"? And I thought about it and I said, "Okay". I told my daughter, December the 31st is gonna be my last day babysitting. 2018 is gonna be all about Sanova.
Not trying to be selfish, but it's gonna be about me. It's gonna be about me magnifying who I am, accepting who I am. I'm gonna go to HIV support groups. I'm gonna be around other people that have HIV. I'm going to do this for me so I can be a better person. And when I made that decision, 2018 came and it was like bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. You know, I went to a support group, and the very first time I was in the support group, the guy said, "I think you should be a counselor. You'll make a very good counselor. You got a story to tell". He said, "And I think this would be a good job for you". I said, "Really"? He said, "Yeah". And I was like, "Look at God. Look at God".
Creflo: The search for significance is coming to an end, huh? Why did it take so long for you to deal with this situation, to tell people? I mean, why was it a secret for so long?
Sanova: The rejection.
Creflo: Rejection from other people?
Sanova: Yeah, 'cause a lot of people still live in 1986. You know, back in the early '80s when HIV came out, people was dropping like flies. And I had an uncle that had HIV, and he had the lesions and stuff like that, and I remember being scared of him touching my food.
Creflo: So, the HIV progressed into AIDS?
Sanova: You know, I was scared of that, so when I found out, I was scared that I'm gonna be... here I go with this rejection thing again. I'm gonna be rejected. Nobody gonna wanna be my friend, you know? And I have lost friends, friends I had for 30 years, that when I told them I had HIV, the phone calls stopped coming.
Creflo: Why would you imagine that? I mean, sometimes it's because of lack of education. Do you think that they're afraid they can get it by touching you or you breathing on them? You know, that sounds ludicrous, but people who are ignorant, and unlearned, and they just don't know, they'll allow those fears to come around and they just don't understand that's not how you can get HIV. They don't understand that, and sometimes people just need to be educated. The public needs to be educated, and go on the web, and look up things so that you'll know how to do that, because that can be very hurtful to be rejected. So, what would you say to people about the issue of being tested?
Sanova: Getting tested is very important. For one, the medication that they had 30 years ago has advanced. Now, instead of taking 30 pills, they got 1 pill you can take. And it's important because you want to get to the point where, when I say undetected, that means that I still have HIV, but the virus is suppressed in my system, in my immune system. So, the chance of me giving it to anybody in the audience, that's a 90% chance that I will not give it to you because I'm undetected. And that's the main thing that you wanna do, you wanna become undetected. So, it's good to find out what your status is, 'cause then you know how to deal with what's going on. When you don't know, how can you treat something that you don't know?
Creflo: Yeah, so are you're saying, is there life after HIV diagnosis?
Sanova: Oh yes, there is life.
Creflo: Oh, I like the way you said that. Oh yes. Oh yes.
Sanova: I'm not hiding in the house anymore. I don't care who knows now. HIV is not who I am. HIV is what I have. It doesn't define me.
Creflo: It doesn't define you, and that is the message that I think the world needs to hear. You know, your behavior doesn't define you, and what's happened is we've allowed our behavior to define our identity, instead of our identity in Christ to define our behavior. And how that works is this, we spend so much time dealing with our misbehaving that we look at what we do and we let it tell us who we are.
Creflo: And instead of us starting off with who we are in Christ, and then believing who we are in Christ, and that's gonna change your behavior. But as long as we keep it reversed, then we try to modify behavior to look at it to tell us who we are. We are who Christ says we are. We're the righteousness of God. Can I have faith in a God who will never leave me nor forsake me, who will be with me in my hurt, my pain, my search for significance, my brokenness, my addictions? He will never leave me. And if we can just believe the love that God has for us, you know what we do? We spend so much time trying to deal with the behavior and the sin that we don't realize that God's already dealt with that.
So, will you believe that you are who he says you are? Will you believe that you have faith in what Jesus has declared? You know, when you talk about being righteous, it really is you're righteous 'cause he said you are. And the day you believe you're righteous, guess what? You're gonna do righteous, because you believe who he said you are, and that is the issue. And I pray that God's power and anointing will bring you to levels that you've never been in, never seen, never encountered before. And let me say it like this, now that you have found real love, now that you've found real love, the God of love is able now to impact your horizontal. Because your vertical relationship with him is right, now your horizontal can be right. This would really be appropriate.
I really would like for you to have this to remember our conversation today. I call it a grace covenant. It's presented to you and it says, "I, Sanova Nusem, accept this grace covenant provided to me by Creflo Dollar and agree with the following statements. I believe Jesus loves me and nothing will ever change that. I believe that grace and the person of Jesus Christ has already provided everything I'll ever need to have a healthy, fulfilling, and prosperous life. I believe everything in my past is in my past, Jesus has chosen", I know that. I felt that too. "Jesus has"... She fittin' to get happy on the couch, you know what I'm saying? "Jesus has chosen not to remember it and neither will I. I will daily proclaim, 'I'm the righteousness of God.' I will daily live by the belief of understanding grace, empowering change to better equip myself for success and to better serve those individuals around me. And I will daily flood my life with the Word of God and the praises of his saints". I'm gonna sign my name here under "Encourager", and then I'm gonna give you this pen so you can sign right above "The Righteousness of God", because that's who you are.
Creflo: You are the righteousness of God, amen.