Testimony of Norman Shearey
When I left home and joined the Navy, a man approached me and gave me a King James Bible. I didn’t know it was a KJB until I opened it. When I saw what it was, I gave it back to him and said, «No thanks.»
The reason I did that was that I had been warned by a priest about this book. I went to all kinds of Roman Catholic Schools and this priest told our class, «One day, someone will give you a King James Bible. Do not take it. It is an anti-Catholic book.»
He was right. The greatest book ever written against Roman Catholicism was not written by a former priest or nun: it was written by God Himself.
But, I digress.
So, I made it through all of my training and wound up in Pensacola, Florida and eventually at the Navy’s helicopter training base. This base was within 3 miles of PBI. (Pensacola Bible Institure)
One day, while I was downtown, a young man about my age approached me. He asked me if I had ever trusted Jesus Christ as my saviour?
Well, I had seen lunatics preaching from the bed of a truck a little earlier. Right there in an alley, facing Palafox Street, just yelling their heads off.
While I was watching them, a big old black guy was walking down the sidewalk selling peanuts. He kept yelling, «Peeeahhhhnuuuuh! Peeeahhhhnuuuuh! Peeeahhhhnuuuuh!» Then some guy with no legs goes whipping past me on a low, wooden platform propelling himself on his knuckles.
What a place! My level of culture shock was near critical mass.
So, now, here I am talking to a guy who was probably one of the nuts from before. Well, I had handled JW’s before so I said, «Hey look, I’m a Catholic.» That ought to do it.
«Do you know what the Catholic bible says about salvation?» was his answer to that.
Great. That always worked on JW’s, now what?
This guy continued and told me what I needed to believe in order to be saved. I listened and hoped for a way out of this.
I finally said, «Look, I don’t want to argue about religion. You believe what you want and I’m happy with my church. Okay?»
Well, it wasn’t okay but he saw it was useless. So, he gave me a Bible, and said, «Read it when you get a chance.» I took it just to be rid of him. I put the little bible into my pocket and got away from there.
However all day this conversation haunted me. It bothered me that this guy DIDN’T THINK I WAS A CHRISTIAN. The nerve. Had he ever been to Catholic schools? How about a seminary? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Well, I went into the Serviceman’s Center which I mistook for the USO. There I met some other wackos. They gave me a sandwich and a free Coke®.
As I looked around, I saw a poster with some crippled girl on it. She was a singer or something and was scheduled to visit there and give a concert. Be still my heart. Yeah, like I would ever go to see something like that.
I beat feet out of there as fast as I could politely excuse my self.
Now, I’m back on the street, it’s getting dark and I forgot about looking for the USO. I’m still thinking about what this guy had told me earlier.
So, I went to the Catholic church downtown, St. Michael’s I think it was. It turned out to be the same church where Pete Ruckman took conversion classes.
Anyhow, it was Saturday, they were hearing confessions and I went inside. As I kneeled there I was just looking up at Jesus hanging on the cross.
I started to pray. Not the Our Father or a Hail Mary but just talking to God.
I told him, «You heard what that guy said. Well, I believe that Jesus is the son of God. I believe he died on the cross for my sins. I believe that he was buried and rose again the third day. All Catholics believe that. That’s what that guy was talking about. So, what wrong with that? Nothing right? It’s just… well I never have asked to be saved. I never heard of that before.
It’s very quiet in the church. You can almost feel it.
«So, Jesus, what’s wrong with being saved? I believe everything that guy said but I have never asked you to save me. Okay, this is it, Father God, based upon what I said I believe about your son Jesus Christ, please save me and give me eternal life.»
I half expected a bell to sound or a buzzer to go off. Something. There was nothing. Just more silence. So, I got off my knees and walked out.
I was thinking, «That’s all there is to it? What’s the big deal?»
That Monday, back at the base, I saw the Bible in my locker. I opened it. «Ha! Just as I thought, a King James Bible.!» I threw it in a garbage can full of construction debris as I walked to my duty station. The thing is though, I can still see it dropping into the can full of saw dust and wood. The kind of debris a carpenter would leave.
I left Pensacola, still a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Navy sent me all over the place, I even did two years in Antarctica. I started to study Kung Fu, Daoism, Yoga, all kinds of stuff like that. A «friend» gave me a deck of Tarot Cards, (my mother and grandmother were fortune tellers.)
After six years I left the Navy and went home with a wife and two children. I continued to study Eastern Mysticism of all sorts. The books were telling me that I was god. I just forgot who I really was. I didn’t believe it.
I found a book titled, The Gospel According To Zen. It was a comparison of Zen Buddhist sayings with sayings from the Bible. The author’s point was that all religions contain the same truth.
It occurred to me, that I had read hundreds of religious books BUT had never read the Bible. Of course, I didn’t own a Bible. However, I had just inherited an old Catholic Bible. It even had thees and thous. I decided to read it.
I figured that the four gospels would be prejudiced towards Christ, so I started in Proverbs. Plus, The Gospel According To Zen, had quoted heavily from it. Before I started to read I prayed like this, «Father God, if the Bible is your word I should be able to read it and understand it without needing a priest or any one else.»
Trust me, I never expected to read more than a few lines. One page at the most. Well, I read the whole book at one sitting.
When I reached the first Apocryphal book I stopped. I didn’t like it. Nevertheless, I had read enough to feel comfortable with the gospels. I started in again with Matthew. I was amazed at all of the detail I had never been taught. By the time I got half way through Luke I realized what had happened to me, years before, in Pensacola: I was saved.
Things happened fast after that. I’d go to mass and spend my time reading the 1st and 2nd gospels in the missal they provided. I remember reading, Isaiah 29:13,
«Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.»
I looked up at the priest going through his choreography and I thought, «Yep, this is it.»
My speech changed without even trying. My wife’s friends would say to her, «Is he still reading that…Bible?» (One of these women was Lutheran) My wife would say, «Yes. Your husbands should read it too. He’s a different man.»
For Christmas my niece bought me a new, modern, up-to-date Catholic Confraternity Edition. It was hard to get used to but hey..all bibles are the same…aren’t they?
We moved to Florida, the Bible Belt. Up North Christian radio was not too swift. In Orlando I heard Oliver B. Green, Perry Rockwood, and also a bunch of baloney. Still, it all worked.
One of the baloney programs said Pilgrims Progress had sold more copies than any other book but the Bible. I bought it because I had never read the thing. I loved it. I decided to underline every verse Bunyan quoted in my own Bible.
Things went well for a few hours. Then I hit a verse that was not in my Bible. I mean, some of the verses were worded entirely different but THIS TIME there was no verse! The numbers went: 10, 11, 13, 14… NO #12. Where’s 12? I looked in my old bible, no 12. I was miffed, disappointed.
The next day, the N-E-X-T DAY Perry Rockwood said, «God only wrote one Bible.» I didn’t hear the whole message so I sent for the info. What he sent was so basic, so simple as to appear almost laughable to me now. But, I wasn’t laughing then: I was learning.
I found out about the Byzantine Text, the TR, the Received Text, the number of manuscripts that agreed with each other and how they were used to produce an English Bible: The AV 1611, the King James Bible. I was amazed, but I knew it was true.
I had to go to Melbourne, FL the next day. My sales call was at the Merit Square Mall. I arrived early and went into B. Dalton Books. I wanted to buy a King James Bible but I had very little money, it was between paydays.
I looked around and picked up a few KJB’s but they were all fairly high priced. I saw a sale table and there were 3 KJB’s, a white one, red one, and a black one. I picked up the black one and it said, $2.50 on the cellophane wrapper. «That can’t be right,» I thought. So, I went up to the register and inquired about the correct price. The clerk said, «The price is right, you want to buy it?»
Time was short, and I had to get to the Mall Office and keep my appointment. All through the sales presentation I kept thinking about the new Bible in my briefcase. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I left the Mall Office and didn’t bother going to my car. I just found a bench and removed the wrapping and opened my new Bible. As I thumbed through it, I read bits of verses, here and there. The language was strange. Even my old Catholic Bible with the «thees and thous» was not like this. I closed the Bible and went to my car.
In my car I opened to the book of Ephesians. I started to read. As I remember, I read about two chapters and thought, » This is going to take some getting used to.» But, I was determined.
Oliver B. Green was broadcast at 9AM and 7PM in those days. I listened to it when I drove my youngest daughter to pre-school. My wife would drive every other day. She said to me, «What are you listening to in the morning?»
«It’s weird. All he does is yell.»
«His voice is raspy because he did that recording after preaching in a tent all night.»
«Don’t listen to that. You make me scared.»
But, my wife was not THAT scared. She got saved listening to Oliver B. Green, who had been dead for years and years by the time we had ever heard him.
There was a Baptist Church on the other side of town. A small church who’s pastor was on the radio. I told my wife that we were no longer going to the Catholic Church. I took my two oldest children and went to a Wednesday night service.
What a night. I could not believe that all we did was sing a few songs, and listen to the Bible being taught. No calisthenics: sit down, stand up, kneel down, stand up…gone…no more of that!
After the teaching we had a prayer meeting. Men and women split up. When it came time to introduce myself I told them that I had left the Roman Catholic Church. It didn’t seem to phase them. I figured, this must be a common occurrence. I was wrong. These folks were ignorant.
I may have been there two months when I said to the pastor, «Man, I am glad we have God’s perfect word. It’s amazing that I went so long rejecting the King James Bible.»
«Well,» said the pastor, «I don’t want you to be disappointed but you should know that there are errors in that book.»
«Go to the book of Romans, see verse 1? Now look at verse 4. See that phrase, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, That’s a scribal insertion. It was an error when the manuscript was transcribed…blah, blah, blah.»
Again, I was miffed, disappointed. But, hey, this pastor was a graduate of Bob Jones University. Who was I to question him.
I decided I had to learn Greek and Hebrew.
I left that church and went to an Evangelical church that used the NASV.
I taught Sunday School to adults, and gave the people the «literal translation» according to ME, and the textual critics. I never said that the KJB was wrong, I just used it as a point of departure.
A hyperdispensationalist sent me a tape series on Satan’s Policy of Evil Against the Word of God.» He was pro KJB but corrected it with Hebrew and Greek. Still, it was a good tape series. I wondered how he could teach that and still correct the KJB?
C.R Stam, (another hyper) wrote in the Berean Searchlight that you did not need Hebrew and Greek to study, the bible. God preserved his word in English, and a knowledge of English was more important than Greek. He didn’t practice that! He just wrote that. But, God used it. I quit correcting the KJB.
I had witnessed to my mother and she and one of my sisters were saved. She lived in Cleveland and told me about a periodical she had subscribed to. It was the Bible Believer’s Bulletin.
I got that paper, mom sent me some tapes of Ruckman’s and I told her not to read that NASV I had told her to buy. She sent it to me. I still have it. That one and the one I bought for my wife. One Brown, and one red, but not as red as my face.
After reading the Bulletin I discovered that Pensacola Bible Institute, (PBI) was within 3 miles of the base where I had been stationed. I also, figured out where those street preachers had come from and where the guy who witnessed to me had come from, when I first went to Pensacola.
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