How We Escaped – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 7

A Trip To College And Back

Shortly after my conversion, one evening while reading and sitting around the big fireplace, I ventured to whisper to mother that I felt God would have me become a preacher. She replied, “O, Sonnie, that is a hard life, sleeping in damp beds and eating cold victuals.” I paused, then answered, “Would you rather I backslid and died a drunkard?” “O, no, if that is the way you feel, go ahead!”

The next big question was, where I should go to prepare. The only place I knew of was the Wesleyan Methodist Seminary, at Wheaton, Illinois, hundreds of miles away. My big, unsaved brother overheard the conversation and in disgust said, “The silly goose! He has never been away from home and will be back in three weeks!” “No,” said mother, “give him three months!” Those were some of the best words ever spoken to me. For during the first six months or more, I often cried myself to sleep because of homesickness. I would have walked home since I did not have the fare ($8.00), but for one thing: I could visualize myself entering the old, cozy home, dejected, and hearing my sneering brother say, I told you so! Here is the great preacher, just returned from college. After those awful months of loneliness I finally won the fight and my people did not see me for over three years. Now, when I returned home I was on top and in a different class. I did not feel proud, but God had lifted me up and given a saintly dignity and holy independence that I did not have before. What a narrow escape! Had I yielded to homesickness and returned too soon, I would have been sidetracked and missed God’s first plan, as thousands of bright young people have done.