Thursday, November 9, 2017

5: Von Hanshaw Deconversion Story

I was born in 1970, the middle child of 2 other brothers. My dad was a violent man when he got drunk as he would physically abuse my Mom, myself, my 2 brothers and his Mother who lived next door to us. But dad stopped drinking on December 31, 1975, joined a Southern Baptist Church in January 1976, enrolled in Bible College in August 1976 and became a pastor.

I was born again in May 1978 at the church he was pastoring during Vacation Bible School. I began telling my friends about Jesus and my dad baptized a few of my little friends.

Time moved on and in March 1986 I was ordained into Ministry. A teenage prodigy some said with a gift of preaching that drew souls to the altar. My younger brother and older brother also began preaching near this same time. We were called the "Thunder Brothers". We sang, played Guitars and I play the Piano in the style of Jimmy Swaggart.

After I graduated high school in 1988 I attended Kentucky Christian University. When Howard (my younger brother) graduated high school in 1990, we attended Jimmy Swaggart's Bible College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but had to come home because they kept on asking for more money even after we had paid our bill off for the first semester.

Howard and I evangelized together for 5 years until he got married in 1992. We never ministered together again. The years went by and I preached in various churches, auditoriums and other venues, such as, radio and TV. In 1995 I hosted my own TV Show entitled, The Healing Waters Broadcast which was shown in 6 cities in Kentucky and in the Tri-State region of Northeastern Kentucky, Western West Virginia and Southwestern Ohio.

I hosted many radio programs over the years throughout Kentucky. I pastored 4 pentecostal churches, was the Assistant pastor of 5 churches, was the Youth pastor of 3 churches and was the Director of Evangelism at 2 churches.

In addition to that, in 1997 I became a Prison Chaplain and by 2004 I had 300 people working for my prison ministry (Strike Force Prison Ministry). My prison ministry lasted from 1997-2013. I was also a Police Chaplain from 1998-2003. 

Moreover, I authored over 50 books during my ministry. Most were verse by verse commentaries on the Bible.

Now, let me change gears and get into my deconversion story. two inmates at a prison asked me a series of questions one day which threw me off, shook my faith and left me bewildered with no answers. The questions were: (1) How did Noah and God get all of the millions of animals onto a 450 foot Ark? (2) Where does that person go who has never had the opportunity to even hear about Jesus? Heaven or Hell? (3) Why doesn't the Bible condemn slavery?

They asked me these questions about 15 years ago and I came off with some smug, self-righteous answer like," Well we have to take this by faith. God never intended for us to know every answer to every question…" But over the years these questions kept hounding me and in April 2017 I came to the conclusion that I was either going to find a suitable answer or exit Christianity.

Long story short: I found no answers to any of these questions and as I researched these questions even more unanswerable questions began to emerge. Hence I wrote a book entitled, Why I Divorced Christianity.

I have lost every friend I had. Many Minister friends are calling me an Apostate and a Reprobate. Demon possessed. But I cannot follow or support a religion that I deem to be unfair, inconsistent and unloving.

I am part Cherokee. My 7th Great Grandfather was Chief Gray Eagle of the Cumberland Valley Long Hair Clan near Cumberland Falls, Kentucky. So I now worship according to my Cherokee heritage. There are many gods and goddesses in Native American religions. It is considered to be an earth-based pagan religion by some.

My heart is filled with love for everyone and everything. No more Hell fire and damnation. The river is my sister and the Hawk is my brother.

Has this been an easy transition? Absolutely not. Do I have any regrets? No.

Am I trying to deconvert other Christians? No. I am simply telling my story and my experience in hopes that it will help others to see the true light.

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