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A Second Chance at Life
-Shaun Nelson

A Second Chance at Life

My name is Shaun Nelson, and this is my story.

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I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I do not remember my family going to church. Because I went to a public school that taught the theory of evolution, I never really thought much about whether or not there was a God. Whenever I would think thoughts about God, I would excuse them away because it didn’t make sense to me that there was Someone who always was and didn’t need to be created. The idea of creating something out of nothing was more than I could understand, so I just assumed that we evolved like I was taught in school. 

I don’t remember having much spiritual interaction during my teenage years, though I do recall one man who used to come to the trailer park where I grew up and try to get people to go to church with him. I went once or twice but don’t remember anything about it. He gave me my first Bible, which I never read, and I do not remember him explaining what it meant to me. 

Once I turned 13, I started having a lot of issues with fatigue. My mom thought I was anemic or something. I ended up at the doctor’s who told my mom to take me to Children’s Hospital as soon as possible. After spending a night there, they did a spinal tap and found out that I had type AML leukemia, which is a very serious diagnosis. During the next three years, I would go through things that I could never have imagined. I went through chemotherapy, and the leukemia would go into remission. Then suddenly it would come back again. I don’t remember much about it because I was heavily drugged up during that time. I do remember multiple spinal taps, many sores in my mouth, internal bleeding, and watching them pull syringe after syringe of blood from a tube they had put up my nose.
"During the next three years, I would go through things that I could never have imagined."

I ended up having a bone marrow transplant. After the transplant, my body wasn’t taking too well to my brother’s bone marrow, and at one point the doctors told me I only had two weeks to live. My bilirubin was 19.2, and the normal rate is supposed to be around 0.2- 1.2. This was obviously not good and was likely to be the thing that would kill me. Receiving that news as a 15-year-old was very devastating. Our family never had much while I was growing up, but I did enjoy the time that I got to spend with them. So, when the doctor asked me what I wanted to do in my short time remaining on earth, I said I wanted to go home and spend time with my family. They granted me two 6-hour passes, one on a Saturday and one on a Sunday, to go home from the hospital and spend time with my family. I still remember riding home on a cold November day in my friend’s VW bug with no heat and the windows down so they wouldn’t fog up!

Thankfully, things turned around shortly after that. They said my body was responding well to the medicine that they were trying to give me. In hindsight, I know it was God that kept me alive, but I didn’t understand that then. I ended up coming home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, a month after my 16th birthday. Thankfully, I never had to go back again, except for checkups. With a potentially life-changing experience like that, you would think it would make me think about spiritual things, but unfortunately for me it did not. I do remember a lot of people telling me that they were praying for me, though I never really thought about what that meant. I never had anyone share the gospel with me and prepare me for heaven. Looking back, that really surprises me. 

Fast forward to the latter part of my teenage years and wrapping up high school, I got into immorality, alcohol, and drug use. When I was 21, I met my future wife, Nikki. When I met her, she had an 18 month old named Alexis. Nikki and I got to know each other a little better and began dating and going out to parties and hanging out on a pretty regular basis. She had Alexis every other week as she was ordered by the court. During the weeks that we would have her, there would be times that we would find babysitters to watch her so that we could go do our thing. As this continued, I was struck with the thought that I didn’t want Alexis to grow up this way. Having gone through chemotherapy and all, the doctors told me it would be impossible for me to have children of my own, so I assumed that taking part in raising Alexis would be my only chance at being a father. I knew that I couldn’t raise a child by pawning her off on babysitters all the time so that we could go do our own thing and party. 

"Looking over my life and seeing all the things that I had done, it wasn’t very hard for me to agree that I was a sinner and that if I were to stand before God I would be guilty and deserve the punishment of eternity in hell, separated from Him forever."
Because of some unfortunate events, Nikki had to leave the apartment that she shared with another girl and moved in with me and my parents. At the same time, my parents were in the process of moving to a different location, and right next door was a small Baptist church. Having realized that I likely only had one chance to raise a child and knowing that I didn’t want to do it the way that we were, I figured all good people go to church, so why not start there. The pastor preached things that I had never heard before, such as the fact that I was a sinner and that there was a punishment for sin. Looking over my life and seeing all the things that I had done, it wasn’t very hard for me to agree that I was a sinner and that if I were to stand before God I would be guilty and deserve the punishment of eternity in hell, separated from Him forever. I believe it was the second Sunday night that I went there which would have been July of 1999, the pastor preached a gospel message, and I went forward and asked Christ to save me. Having never really believed in God or read a Bible before, a lot of the things that I heard were very new. When I turned from my sin and started a new life with God, the peace that came was indescribable.  

I believe it was the second Sunday night that I went there which would have been July of 1999, the pastor preached a gospel message, and I went forward and asked Christ to save me. Having never really believed in God or read a Bible before, a lot of the things that I heard were very new. When I turned from my sin and started a new life with God, the peace that came was indescribable. Because I had zero Bible knowledge, I had no idea how much my life would change in the next couple of years, but I was happy to have the God of heaven as my Lord and Savior who would walk through this life with me and help. 

That’s been over 20 years ago now, and I’ve never looked back. The “peace of God that passes all understanding” the Bible says “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) That peace which everyone is searching for can never be found apart from Jesus Christ. He really does satisfy the longing soul and meet the deepest need that we all have. Won’t you turn to Him? The Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) and “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) We have all sinned and will one day stand before a holy God. Since there can’t be any sin in heaven (if there were, it wouldn’t be heaven), how would you be able to get in? Thankfully, the Bible also says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God knows you sin and loves you anyway. Won’t you turn from your sin and turn to Him? The Bible also says in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” 

Won’t you call upon God to save you today?