Meet Charlotte Evans Russell- a pastor’s wife, stepmom and social media sensation. With more than 60,000 followers on Instagram alone, Russell has gained a notable platform in the home decoration community, but instead of just sharing ideas on how to make your home more inviting, Russell encourages her followers to grow in their faith in Christ.
Looking for Love. Charlotte Evans Russell had a tumultuous childhood. At six months old, the state took custody of Russell when she was found in a box in a closet during a fight between her parents in their Mobile, Ala. home. Her older sister placed her in the box trying to protect her from her parents who were using drugs. Her mother worked hard to get her back and eventually did when Russell was four years old. A short time later, Russell’s mother was killed in a double homicide. “I remember the night before she died,” explains Russell. “I had a dream that she died the exact way she did.” The only difference was who killed her; Russell dreamt it was her aunt’s boyfriend, but it was actually her grandmother’s boyfriend. After this traumatic event, Russell and her big sister were kidnapped by their father until the state regained custody. After being in foster care for four years, Russell’s nineteen-year-old aunt took custody of her. She shares that when she turned fifteen, her aunt kicked her out of the house which led her to living with friends and boyfriends and searching for affection.
During her teenage years, Russell says all she wanted in life was to be loved. Her junior year of high school, she started acting out. She went to school drunk and used drugs like cocaine and crystal meth. “I was in really bad shape when I was finally ready to surrender my life to Christ at the age of 22,” Russell reflects. “Even in the midst of using drugs, there were times when I would just cry out to God.” She remembers having a hunger for God throughout those years. She would often drag her mattress in front of the television to watch pastors like T.D. Jakes preach. “I would even sleep with my Bible,” remembers Russell adding, “The first Bible I ever bought, I purchased with money I made selling drugs.”
In October of 2004, when Russell was 22 years old, she found out she was pregnant and shares that she did not stop using drugs during this time. “The reality of having a baby in me was not even hitting me,” Russell adds. She eventually decided to have an abortion. When she returned from having the abortion to where she was living, in extended stay motel, she laid down, saw her flat belly and reality hit. “That was life and I took it,” recalls Russell about the choice that left her with deep regret and shame.
Alone on Christmas in 2004, Russell gave her life to the Lord once and for all and asked Him to purify her. She knew she could not start over by herself. Two years before this pivotal decision, a woman connected to Home of Grace, a Christian facility in Mobile, wrote her name and number on the back of a tithing envelope and handed it to Russell when they met at a prayer meeting. Russell admits she was at the meeting only because her aunt made her attend. Over the next two years, Russell moved 22 times and that note moved with her. She found it Christmas 2004. “I called that lady and she helped me,” Russell explains. January 18, 2005, she was accepted into the facility. “I like to say that I got engaged to the Lord on Christmas and married him on January 18, 2005. I lived at Home of Grace for a year and it was like a year-long honeymoon with Him.”
Giving Back. After Russell’s stay at Home of Grace, she was given the opportunity to help plant a church in Auburn. Through the move, God introduced her to Jon Russell, the pastor of the church and her future husband. The couple married and not long after felt the Lord calling them to Gadsden, where they purchased a historic home, started renovation projects and began pastoring DayBreak Church in nearby Snead. Charlotte Russell assists with the youth and women’s ministries and works in the church office but says her main focus as a pastor’s wife is to love, support and pray continually for her husband.
Social Media as a Ministry. Russell’s social media following started taking off by simply taking pictures of her home renovation projects. “From the time I was little, I would rearrange my bedroom and living room. My aunt would come home, and the house would be completely rearranged and decorated,” Russell adds. After she started following home décor accounts on social media, she realized that she needed to create a separate account dedicated to her home renovation. She then created @charlotteshappyhome on Instagram. Russell shares that she loves the community she has connected with because of her account and uses her social media presence as a ministry. “I just talk about the Lord there,” she explains. On Sundays, Russell posts “Prophetic Points,” where she shares with followers what she feels like the Lord is speaking and teaching her. “I get messages all the time asking for prayer or encouraging Scriptures to read,” Russell adds, “I am going to be true to who I am and share my faith because that is what God has called me to do.”
Because Russell’s Instagram following has grown to more than 60,000 followers, she now also blogs at www.charlotteshappyhome.com. Russell encourages anyone travelling a similar path to her early years to be aware of their surroundings: people, places and things. She says surroundings have the power to build you up or drag you down. Most of all, Russell encourages everyone to “cry out to the Lord.”