Prodigal Son Returned
My name is Shaun Davis. As a young man, I never thought that I would be a prodigal son. However, here I am rejoicing that this prodigal son returned to his heavenly Father!
I grew up on a small fifteen-acre farm a few miles from Dallas, Oregon. Other than a few years in the Army, I have lived within 25 miles of Salem, Oregon, for most of my life. My family attended a non-denominational Church of Christ in Amity. It is a Christian church that follows “The Way” of the first century original Christians. My grandmother taught preschool in our church, and she was a significant influence on me. I grew up as a believer, and I was baptized at eight years old. As a teenager, I envisioned myself as a Youth Pastor when I grew up. I have felt drawn to help children my entire life. I was involved in sports, youth group, and church activities.
After high school, I allowed the distractions of the world to pull me away from God. I made numerous attempts to straighten out my life, but I continued to fall back into the sinful ways of this world and to be overly concerned with material things. I always tried to fix myself, and I thought that I just needed to exercise more self-discipline. However, I still fell short, and I was hard on myself for failing yet again!
I married at twenty and attended college for a year. Then, I spent several years in the Army. Something in me changed when I was in Desert Storm. Thirteen years later, in 2004, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I had problems in my marriage for years as I had not shed a tear or felt empathy since 1990. My wife and I sought counseling several times. But, after a whole year of steady counseling, we divorced after twenty years of marriage. She told me I was cold and unfeeling. We both had our issues that contributed to our divorce. With that said, I knew that what she said about me being cold and heartless was correct. The sole reason I knew there was hope for me was that I felt love for my daughters.
New Marriage and Struggles Before the Prodigal Son Returned to the Father
It took several years of counseling before I had a significant achievement. I was finally able to allow myself to feel again. I cried for the first time in 17 years. That is when I started to feel empathy for others. I was also able to feel emotions other than anger. Then, I met an amazing woman who had also divorced after a long marriage. After a whirlwind romance, we blended our families with a result of seven children. Both of us had run entirely away from God, and we were pretty much creatures of this world.
We hit rock bottom about three years into our marriage. My wife asked me for a divorce. I tried to retreat to my old place of not feeling anything, but I was unsuccessful. I quickly realized that she meant more to me than I realized. Devastation is what I felt! I dropped to my knees and poured out my heart to God. I asked him for forgiveness for the way that I had been living my life, and I begged him to save my marriage. Then, I felt a wave of calming relief as I put my life and my problems into God’s hands. The prodigal son returned to his Father in Heaven!
Prodigal Son Returned to a Church Home
After that, I began to read my Bible for the first time in years. It took several months, but we managed to pick up the pieces of our lives and create a beautiful marriage together. We still struggled at first, as I was a believer again, and she was not. Then after the loss of our grandson, she started to go to church. She turned to God and found a way to work through the pain with His help. The last few years have seen so much growth in our marriage and our lives. Marie and I are best friends, and we couldn’t imagine life without each other. We found a small church, like the one I grew up in, and we feel welcome. We now have seven grandchildren with another on the way. Marie and I have been together for 11 1/2 years.
Prison Work and Sharing the Faith
I have worked at a Federal Prison for over 26 years. Two years as a Correctional Officer and more than 24 years as a Cook Supervisor for inmate crews. Working in this environment is different than dealing with typical life situations. You have the worst that society has to offer. There are predators, victims, and people that are just trying to survive. The average inmate cusses a lot. The vulgar content of many conversations is rampant and shocking. One can become desensitized to these things or get caught up in them if one isn’t careful. It took a lot of hard work for me to get my mouth under control. It took even longer for me to get a handle on my thoughts so that I did not find myself being a part of the vulgar talk.
Over the last couple of years, I have found myself caring about what happens to these inmates, especially as they are getting released back into society. There are plenty of them that genuinely want to change, but the odds are against them. The ones that succeed have a support system. In many cases, they have a belief that Jesus is their Savior. I am cautious when discussing faith in Jesus with them. I help them as much as I can with advice on life, dealing with anger, and other typical life issues. A lack of self-confidence when it comes to sharing the Gospel is a challenge for me. So, I struggle because I think that if I could get over this, then I might genuinely make a difference in some of these guys lives.
After the Prodigal Son Returned to the Father, a Life-Changing Event
On June 9, 2019, I was leaving the kitchen to turn in my radio and keys for the night. I suffered a freak motorcycle accident due to some grease on the blacktop. I crashed into some steel poles, and I broke my pelvis in half. Also, my right wrist and my left arm above the elbow were broken. I had an arterial bleed as well. I could have quickly died. They discovered me because I was at work, and my radio alarm went off.
That alarm saved my life and allowed co-workers to find me on our significant prison instillation. It was after hours, so we only had a small crew working. I was in the hospital for four weeks — nine days in intensive care and nine days in the trauma wing. One of the doctors said that I was lucky that I wasn’t paralyzed from the waist down with where my injury was.
I was utterly humbled and overwhelmed by the massive support from family, friends, co-workers, and the small church that we attend. After four weeks, I returned home, and I am spending the next few months recovering and healing. I feel that God allowed me to live because He has something more planned for my life. I have talked to Him much. As He leads me where He would have me go, it doesn’t matter if it is big or small. I want to find a place where I can help God’s Kingdom and people. Even if I only lead one soul to Jesus, then that is worth putting myself out there to help others and witness to them.
After Prodigal Son Returned, He Takes Free Ministry Training at CLI
I stumbled across the Christian Leaders Institute. After investigating it, I decided to start taking courses. I had wanted to do this, and at 52, I am now starting! Being able to receive quality courses for free is a Godsend! I couldn’t afford these courses at a regular school, and I don’t want to wait a few more years when I retire.
I’m not sure exactly where this is leading me. It could be youth ministry, or it might only be me learning enough to help the leaders in our church. I am in the American Legion, and our veteran organization is always looking to help veterans or their families. So, I am not opposed to the idea of being our local post Chaplain if the need arises. Also, I am strongly considering the possibility of working with inmates and former inmates. I believe that I can talk to them on a level that they understand.
As the prodigal son returned to his Father, I have too. I know that God will present me with the path that I should take. I plan to retire at the end of 2023. This plan gives me a few years to work on my ministry path. The thought is that I might convert to college credits, at some point, and work on my degree.
I look forward to the journey that I have begun. I am eager to learn so that I can help lead people to Jesus and everlasting life!
Learn about ordination opportunity at Christian Leaders Alliance.