People of Influence | Shirley Christman


My mom during a visit to Martinsville I believe.

I started off trying to write a post about all the people who have influenced me in my life. But I realize that some people needed their own post and others could share a post. Dr. Dobson talked a lot about making sure there were people in the lives of your children lives that would be a good influence – so that when they looked back they could see the great people who made them who they are as adults.

The most important person who guided my life was my mother. Just to let you know my father would say the same thing. Her name was Shirley Christman.  At a young age her mother was told that Shirley had a heart problem and may not live past 30 years old. My mother was told she was not to have any children because it would cause her to die or the children would be retarded.  She had six children. Only my sister Rebecca died a couple hours after birth.  For the rest of us we are as crazy as normal people can be.

My father was an evangelist for most of my life. So my mother was in a way a single parent when my father was away from home. Our family lived on love offerings and did not have a lot of money. As a child I never realized how poor we were because our mother sheltered us from that knowledge. She always had a garden and we always had chicken, even when we lived in the borough limits of Emmaus.  Our family was filled with love.

Our mom was also the religious leader in our home. She made sure we went to church and she was the best example of what a Christian mother should be. At one point in my brother’s and mine teens years, we were having a hard time with the church that had attended since I was four years old. The youth group was a closed group, only the cool kids were accepted into this little group. It had been that way since my sisters had been a part of the youth. If they were not accepted into it, my brother and I didn’t have chance to be a part of it. We started to hate church. It was a church that my mother loved going to.My brother and I start going to church with my sister and her boyfriend (became her husband). It hurt my mother deeply when she decided to change churches but the most important thing in my mother’s life was to see her children grow up and be strong Christians. It was at this church that both my brother and I got the call to go into ministry.  She was a great example of what a Christian woman should be. It was her example and faithfulness that guided us in the ways of the Lord and most of us are now in full time ministry.

My mother was also a great business woman. She started a consignment shop which was called Tots to Teens so she could send Deb, Rick and I to Christian school. As her and my father started to have problem with the public school – she decided to follow her mother’s example start a business. Not only did she send the three of us to Christian school but my first two years of college were paid for by the store.

When I was in second grade I was tested for a learning disability – which back then they were just starting to study kids with this disability.  My parents were told I had learning disability and that I had did not have a great future because of it. They were told I would never graduate high school and college was totally impossible.  When the school district gave up on me, my mother never did.  She pushed me and told me that I could whatever I wanted to do. When I was getting close to graduating college my mother sent a invitation to the school district doctor who to me I would be a failure.

When my father left the road and returned to ministry at a local church, my mother was a great example of a pastor’s wife. She worked beside my father and put as much sweat and tears in a church as he did. After I was ordained my father regreted that my mother never had the choice of being a pastor. In his words my mother would have made a better pastor than him.


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