Testimony by Estelle P. Shrum – He Is The Word
(A Pocket Paper from The Donelson Fellowship)
While watching the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, I laid my hands on the TV screen and asked Jesus into my heart and lead my life. That was the first time I ever felt the presence of God surge through me. Unfortunately, I was a slow learner, and back slid never fully trusting God. Allow me to share the events that brought me to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
I was raised in a violent alcoholic dysfunctional family. My parents had no parenting skills from being raised in foster care. My mother was sexually abused from the time she was eight years old until she was twelve. My father didn’t meet his father until he was eighteen, and my mother never knew who her real father was.
As a child I suffered panic attacks and prayed a lot especially that my parents wouldn’t come home drunk and fight, or drag us out of bed and involve us in their fights. I was raised Catholic and had an altar setup on my nightstand with candles and pictures of Jesus. I loved Jesus but he never answered my prayers, and there was no evidence that he lived in our house.
My sister and I were left alone a lot of times without food or money. If it were not for our neighbor we went without food until my parents came home from several days of binging. My sister got pregnant at seventeen and moved out. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to get out of our house, but I was devastated because I was only fourteen and had to endure my parent’s fights alone
By the time I was nineteen I was hospitalized twice for three months, at that it was referred to as a nervous breakdown. When I was eighteen I cut myself with a razor starting from my finger tips up to my elbows and across my neck. When I was nineteen I cut my wrists. As an adult I overdosed twice on tranquilizers, the first time I had my stomach pumped the second time I was in ICU. Children never forget pain or trauma and they carry it with them throughout their lives. I still suffer from flash backs and nightmares, and cry out in my sleep at sixty-five years old.
I met my husband in Hialeah, Florida while he was attending college. We married and eighteen days later he was drafted and left for Viet Nam. Five years later we had our son Michael, and six years later our daughter Erica, however emotionally my life continued to be a constant struggle. Erica led a charmed childhood until she was sixteen years old. She was a cheerleader, on the honor role, and very popular. Then my mother had her first suicide attempt and around the same time Erica broke up with the boyfriend she was dating and realized how unfair life is. The following year her closest cousin committed suicide, and six months later her friend James, who was the star quarter back of their high school football team, drowned at the beach.
During my daughter’s first semester in college she and a high school boyfriend got back in touch and she was certain this was the fellow she was going to marry, but in one moment all her dreams ended when he was killed driving across the railroad tracks trying to beat the train because he was late for work.
A year later she transferred to UNF in Jacksonville. She was still depressed, but hoped going away would help her heal. There she met a new boyfriend Shane, and three weeks later she eloped with him…she didn’t tell us they were married until two months later. Their third month of marriage turned out to be a literal nightmare. They were gymnastic coaches, and one night while doing a gymnastic stunt Shane broke his neck, and in a moment became a quadriplegic. Erica was only twenty-one and he was twenty-three. Shane’s family lived in Texas. They were not in the position to help financially, physically, or spiritually. At the time we lived on Merritt Island, Florida, a good two and half hours from Erica and Shane. I would stay with them four days a week, then I would go home and work two days a week, and spend one day with my husband.
I once read an article about J. Oswald Sanders, he was a former director of an Overseas Missionary. Sanders once wrote about a time when he wanted a particular position in the Christian world very much. But while walking down the main street in Auckland, New Zealand one day, turning the matter over in his mind, a verse of Scripture came to his mind with tremendous authority and powerful conviction: “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!” (Jeremiah 45:5). “The words came just as though it was God speaking. There were crowds all around me, and no one else heard the voice, but I heard it all right!” Sanders later said. “I believe that was a real turning point in my service to the Lord.” As a result, he did not seek the position, but it later opened to him on its own in God’s good timing.
I too, heard the voice of God when I was at a women’s retreat two weeks before my son-in-laws accident. I attended the retreat with a friend of mine and we were discussing giving our all to God, and she told me that I needed to be in a Bible study. I told her that I loved God but I didn’t want to be part of a Bible study because I didn’t feel comfortable in group settings. Then she opened the Bible to Rev. 3:15-16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” After reading the Scripture I heard a voice that encompassed my whole being say, “Do not be afraid.” I felt a warmth and peace spread throughout my being and I was awed. My friend did not hear the voice. I just stared at the Bible. I felt like I was suspended in time. There are just no words to explain an encounter with God.
I can liken it to the time I experienced a small earthquake in Evansville, Indiana. I felt my entire house move, like it was being pushed off the foundation. I couldn’t relate to what was happening it was surreal. It took many years before God spoke those words to me, but once He did and told me not to be afraid, I finally knew what he wanted from me, He wanted my all.
My husband, Dick, and I have been married for 43 years. We still live in Jacksonville, Florida. My kids and their spouses are all saved and walk with the Lord. We have one precious granddaughter Bryce who is seven years old and attends Christian school. I wish I could say we are living happily ever after, but unfortunately, I had brain surgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia in 2009, suffer from Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy, which is a brain disease that interferes with my word finding process, and now diagnosed with Lupus. God is good though and has blessed me with a family that trusts, walks, and loves the Lord. My book, He Is The Word, was published in 2006, where you can read my whole testimony, and my Christian website, www.Heistheword.com is my ministry to teach God’s Word through Biblical poetry.