I have had the privilege of sitting under many great men of God in my lifetime, but none have impacted my life as much as Pastor Norman ‘Doc’ Shuman. I was 22 years old when I first stepped foot into the church he was pastoring. From that moment on, my life would never be the same.
Oh, it wasn’t a beautiful sanctuary with stained-glass windows and filled with hundreds of well-dressed people. No, it was a double-wide mobile home custom-built to serve as a place of worship for a congregation of 30 to 40, most of which were new Christians. Little did I know that it had a reputation as “one of those churches” that might not be preaching the truth of the gospel. I reckon folks didn’t understand church plantings back in those days.
I guess I either didn’t know or didn’t care, since I was spiritually starving and simply had to find some answers soon. I had walked the isle many times in various churches trying to find God so I could give my life to Him. I had visited one-on-one with preachers, Sunday School teachers, and a host of empathetic friends. When at last I had reached somewhat of a desperate state, the Spirit of God led a lady to call me and invite me to the church where Doc Shuman was preaching.
I will never forget that memorable night. I walked in the door of this makeshift church and was met by the dear lady who had invited me there. She slipped her arm around my waist and helped me find a seat. She never left my side. The pastor’s wife was playing the organ with an anointing that I had not heard since I was a child. Joyful sound and newness of life permeated the room. Tears began to flow down my face and I did not stop crying the entire service, feeling literally enveloped in the Presence of God.
And what did I hear from Pastor Shuman that night but faith—the very thing that had eluded me for years. I had done all the right things….taken all the necessary steps….prayed the correct religious words, but nothing ever happened in my heart. The Bible tells us clearly that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”1 So no matter how many times I followed the instructions given to me, without faith new birth simply could not happen.
Within a few weeks of soaking up the rich messages of faith in Pastor Shuman’s sermons from God’s Word, I began to believe what I was hearing. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”2 Bingo! It happened as naturally as breathing, and I graciously received God’s amazing gift of Salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”3
For 12 years I sat under the life-giving teaching of Pastor Shuman. He taught me so much about the Word that my soul grew in unmeasurable portions. He taught me to worship to Lord unashamedly, as he himself danced before the Lord with great rejoicing. Having a great singing voice, he would break into song in the middle of his sermon. He was one-of-a-kind, and I expect there will never be another Doc Shuman.
He and wife, Betty, also known as “Sister Momma,” blessed my family in a thousand ways. Besides pastoring the church that grew to approximately 200 people, they also founded a Christian School. They taught our children to respect and honor God, home, and country. They not only taught it, they lived it before their very eyes.
Throughout the years of their ministry and even today in their 80’s, they have planted numerous churches, funded many a mission effort, and continued to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Always having a concern for kids, Pastor Shuman called only a few months ago to see if I still had some of the children’s church material I wrote 30 years ago.
Today, this humble and awesome man of God is being laid to rest. My heart is heavy with great sorrow, but my memories are priceless. I know that today he is dancing in the presence of the Blessed Savior that he loved so much.
My heart will forever be grateful for this dear man who taught me faith. ~Janie Kellogg
Additional Note: Perhaps sorrow has been added to sorrow, as today Pastor Shuman’s son-in-law, Johnny Quinn is being buried as well. While at the funeral home with family members to make arrangements for Pastor Shuman’s service, John suffered a massive brain aneurism. He was rushed to a major medical facility, but never regained consciousness. He died two days ago. It seems unimaginable that today this family is attending a double funeral service for their loved ones. A sweet family friend said it so well, “There just are no words.”
1Hebrews 11:6; 2Romans 10:17; 3Ephesians 2:8