THE FIRST TIME I SAW DANA CHANEL WAS AT A VIEWING PARTY FOR KEKE PALMER.
She wore a simple outfit—a white tank under a black jacket, dark-washed jeans ripped at the knee, with her hair slicked back into a low bun and face beat for the gods. Not provocatively dressed, but fashionably flawless. I watched as she quietly worked the room. She didn’t make a lot of effort to get close to the celebrity guests; in fact, they seemed to greet her first as if she was an old friend. Though I didn’t know who she was at the time, she gave an air of somebody who was supposed to be there, and not just as press, but for reasons beyond posting an event recap on a blog the following day.
I was right, but not for the reasons I initially thought. She was there for a greater purpose—on a mission from God to spread His love and word without the door-to-door sales pitches and fire and brimstone fear tactics. She blended in effortlessly while standing out spiritually, not quite what you would expect from a 21-year-old hailing from the projects of Brooklyn, who once worked in a strip club—serving not swerving.
The young boss is the founder of Sprinkle of Jesus—an online ministry that utilizes social media and technology to touch souls and change lives, spreading the word of God through real experiences and real revelations. On any given day you’ll find the beauty passionately delivering a word on a number of relatable topics through her Instagram videos and Sprinkle of Jesus app alerts in between snapping photos with some of your favorite celebs. Not bad for someone who just a few years ago barely even knew who God was.
Growing up Dana had no idea that her purpose in life would involve connecting others to a higher power. She was born in Brooklyn to Dominican parents in a house with eight brothers and sisters. Money was tight and opportunities limited, so to give her kids a chance at a better quality of life her mom moved the family to a small suburban area in Middletown, Delaware. Life was decent but not good enough to stop living paycheck to paycheck, and soon Dana found herself wanting more than just the average lifestyle—she knew that there was something better for her than just getting by. She was the first in her family to get accepted into college, racking up offer letters to some of the top schools in the country including St. John’s University, but the cost of tuition was too much to bare.
“They wanted like $55,000 a year and I was like, dude, I am not going to owe you guys a house before I graduate. I was like, hold on, this isn’t for me!”
Instead she went to a community college in Philadelphia, but being a poor college student without bus fare to get to school made her desperate, so much so that she found herself working in a strip club as a front desk hostess. For the first time her financial situation seemed to be on the come up. She was going to school by day and walking out the club every night with $500 in untaxed dollars.
Then the unexplainable happened. She recalls one night holding the bookBecoming A Woman of Prayer, but swears that has no idea of how she came across the life-changing literature. Maybe it was a stranger on a mission to save souls, which ironically would later become the foundation of her own movement. She became engrossed in the book, catching side-eyes and commentary from amused patrons there for a twerk and not the word watching her flip through the religious read. The deeper she delved the more curious she became about God, and the more knowledge she gained the more she was convinced that she was destined for something different—something greater. Not long after, she quit the strip club gig and left her life of drinking and smoking behind with it. She describes this period of her life as being one of complete solidarity.
“Literally, I had no one; I felt so lonely,” she confesses. “But God was by my side the entire time. He needed to remove me from my lifestyle to be able to teach me to seize the gift that He had given me because I was too distracted. That literally was the turning point. A lot of the time we don’t give God space, we don’t give Him the room to work in our life. But, when I was alone and had no friends, I just read my Bible and was like, yo, why didn’t somebody tell me about this guy sooner? Why am I just learning about this?!”