How We Escaped – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 10

More Narrow Escapes

“Through many dangers toils and snares,

I have already come; .

‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And Grace will lead me home.”

St. Paul spoke of being in “deaths oft.” I have had at least a dozen close calls. Once in Damascus, Syria, I came within six inches of having my head split open. Another time in Shanghai, China, I came near going with double pneumonia. Another time in South Africa the missionaries gathered around my bed and held on in prayer until I was healed of ptomaine poisoning. Another time when some ruffians attempted to cut our big tent down, I rushed into their midst! They ran across the street and began shooting. At first I thought they were shooting into the tent, But the next morning I went out and leaned against the board fence where I had stood the night before and I could count the bullets in the fence, six inches on each side of my body. You see how near I went to heaven that night, but “a man is immortal until his work is done.”

Another time, when I was going through Cincinnati to Pittsburgh, Pa. my train was late and I had to run to make connections. The B & O Railroad conductor was kind and let me pay full fare to the first big stop. He said I could hurry into the depot and buy a clergy ticket for the rest of the way. I did so, but the train started and when I tried to get on, the side doors were closed. What should I do? A great risk, but I decided to stand outside, on the lower step and hold on until we reached the next stop. Just then the conductor, passing from one coach to another, saw me although it was midnight. Of course he was angry, but let me in. It was zero weather and I fear my hands would have frozen in the next forty miles. Besides swinging around the sharp curves it would have been easy to have lost my grip and fallen to my death. God was good to an adventurous preacher.

This very morning, March 23, 1943, in Shreveport, La., I narrowly escaped. While running in a heavy overcoat to catch the bus with this copy for the printer, I fell and burst my trousers, skinning my knee as large as a silver dollar. The bus waited, but Satan sneered at me and said, “I will kill you yet.” My answer is, “Not until my work is done.” It is thrilling to feel that God has a peculiar care over us.

These are some of the physical escapes I have had. But there are others more subtle and damning. One is the “itching palm” for a little more money. It is easy to set aside the smaller calls and “feel led” to go where the crowds are larger (and of course the purse also). He who does this is likely to go a step farther and shave off some of the rough corners of the cross, so that he is not so plain and rugged as formerly.

Another snare is familiarity with women, especially pretty women. Wesley said, “Converse sparingly with women.” It is sickening to see a married man honey around and have prolonged handshakes with the fairer sex. Personally I have had many snares set for me in the past fifty-five years. But it gives solid satisfaction to be able to look back and thank God that every home and hotel was left as pure or better than I found it. I would rather be branded as an extremist than be careless and indiscreet.