John Byron Shank
Photo by Marie Palm Shank/Location courtesy of Norra Solberga Church - Sweden
Design by Joe Selzler Web Design Inc.


As for me, I am a branch snatched away from the fire. There was never any good found in me, by myself. What good that I am able to do now does not come from me, but from Him who lives inside, living out as me. I was about 25 when I became a Christian, and by then I had so disgraced myself with sin, I had to go through deliverance before the Holy Spirit could come inside me. Sex, drugs and consorting with unclean spirits in Eastern meditation and the occult, were the main issues at the time. I had been trying to get to God through my own effort, on my own terms, by trying to induce spiritual experiences. I was completely wrong. God showed me that my use of drugs and meditation were a kind of spiritual masturbation - trying to induce the joy of God’s presence, without being in a covenant relationship with Him. I needed to deal with God on His terms, not mine. As I moved towards faith, I quit using drugs and meditation, but I still had the Deceiver in me. I was under a lot of conviction about the sin in my life, and identified with Augustine in his Confessions, when he described his pre Christian state as "…being deceived and deceiving others…" Though I know I have been forgiven those days and those deeds, I’m still grieved over the fact that I introduced evil to so many I regarded as my friends, while believing I was sharing good things with them!

The Deceiver was finally ejected from me one summer night, at a powerful Bible study meeting, in the basement of a church. There was a bit of a battle, but Jesus prevailed, and I felt as if my insides had been washed clean with a fire hose. It was then that I knew that GOD WAS HOLY, and if I prostrated myself before Him, and covered my head with the tiles of that church basement floor, and groaned " HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY," I would only be approaching reality!

In the years that followed, I renewed my mind with study of the Bible, Systematic Theology, and Comparative Religion, in the mutual encouragement of fellow believers. Later, I served as a missionary in Amsterdam for 2 ½ years, with my wife and other team members. Upon returning, I taught theology in the missionary training school of the church that had sent me abroad. Whenever I could, I testified and made amends to my old friends, for the evil I had done them. Some have since become believers, while others have not.

In the late 80’s, I lost a business, my self-respect, and eventually my wife to a divorce. I lost considerable ground with temptation to return to some of my former ways, after all God had done for me! I had some huge moral failures. In seeking help, I got in touch with a very deep vein of anger and shame that was driving me to destruction, and hurting everyone around me. My recovery has taken years, and has been the direct result of seeing my new identity in Christ. I no longer believe I am just a sinner forgiven, but I’m a completely new creation in Christ. The more I identify myself with Him, the more I realize the wicked man I was, is dead. I’m a whole new person as a result of being joined to the Spirit of Christ. Once I was a vessel joined to Satan, and expressing his nature. Now I am a vessel joined to Christ, and express His nature. (Gal 2:20) Yes, I still get fooled sometimes, but I’m learning that when I do sin, it’s no longer what I want to do, because I know the new me is growing in grace, in the reality of who I am in Christ. I am very grateful for the privilege of sonship in Christ, and deliverance from the sonship of Satan.

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