Shelby has hope and liberty despite childhood abuse and his parents’ divorce
Angry due to abuse and neglect as a child, Shelby Deatherage was diverted from suicide after his parents' radical transformation.
Early on, Shelby recalls facing a rough home: "My dad was searching for joy at the bottom of a bottle and my mom was stuck in an unending pit of depression."
"I was molested by two different people at age seven. One was a babysitter and the other was a relative. Not long after, my parents were divorced."
These events, led to "a deep anger and hatred inside of me", Shelby remembers.
At age 13, hope entered his life when his mother married a kind Christian man. Seeing the way his step-father lived, Shelby says "I came to the realisation that I was lost and that I needed Jesus to save me."
Shelby admits he wanted Jesus to "rule over me" but instead allowed anger to rule his life.
Then he moved in with his biological father and was soon involved in "many dark things", including illicit drugs and alcohol.
Rather than solving his anger, these drugs intensified what was previously beneath the surface.
"I became an increasingly violent person, and I was arrested at school. It was embarrassing as people watched as I left the school in the back of a police car. I felt so despised and rejected," he confesses.
Although his father successfully argued for his reinstatement, Shelby remembers he remained alone through his schooling years.
"In complete solitude, I decided that suicide was my only answer."
I decided that suicide was my only answer”Following an angry shouting match with his father, Shelby "psyched" himself up to put a kitchen knife to his chest but before he could, his father returned for his keys.
"My dad realised the depth of the situation and took the day off so we could sort things out. We began going to church, which I hated. My dad had previously surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and stopped drinking but now he was growing rapidly in his relationship with God."
The next summer Shelby's mother took him to a church-run event where a Christian rock band played and he was able to meet the band members afterwards.
"They each shared their life stories and how they came to know Christ. This was the first time in my life I saw people my age that were the real deal [as Christians]," Shelby recalls.
"This had such a major impact on me that I turned my life fully over to Christ!"
After a short stint playing for this rock band, Shelby knew he needed to return to his home town.
"The Lord warned me that my choices and commitment to Him would have to be different," he adds.
Shelby says God thankfully helped him stand strong against the temptations of drugs and alcohol that had befallen him previously.
"I began to get involved in our church and get opportunities to share my story. I even got the chance to share how Jesus changed my life at school with a whole class," he says gladly.
Ultimately Shelby became pastor and missionary, married his wife Kayla and they now have three children.
"Looking back, I'm so thankful that God stopped me that day from taking my life," Shelby shares. "God took a life that seemed hopeless and worthless and is doing amazing things. Though no longer together, both my parents are my spiritual heroes."
Quoting from First Corinthians chapter one, verse 27, Shelby shares from the Bible, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty."
He concludes: "I'm so glad that God has redeemed my life. And because Jesus forgave my sins and rose from the grave, I will forever live my life for Him!" •