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Elder Chester Walton Shew
Elder Chester Walton Shew
Chester Walton Shew was born in 1910 in Bandera County, Texas. However, one of his good friends (Murray E. Burr) used to tell a story that Elder Shew shared with him concerning his alleged origins. Elder Shew was quoted saying, "I was born in Tuff, Texas. The town had only one street in it, and the further down the street you walked, the tuffer it got, and I lived in the last house on the end of the street." To put into perspective, the life and times of C.W. Shew, you would have to say that he was indeed a man of strength. Slightly tempered with uncanny tenderness.
On May 11, 1929, Ruth Nelson became Mrs. Chester Walton Shew. There were no flowers nor a reception. They immediately started out on a hilarious, hectic "rip-roaring" life, which lasted for many years to come. The next morning, Chester was informed that the man that he had left in charge of the cafe he owned, had closed up and left with all the money. The Shew's struggled to recover from the blow, and moved from "here and yon." Chester went back to work in the oil fields, where he re-injured his back. Ruth first met C.W. in the hospital in San Antonio. After a second trip to the hospital they went to his grandfather's farm for C.W. to recuperate. Ruth tended to both, C.W. and his grandfather, who was also ill. This is where their lives really began. They were taken to a humble little church in Floresville, Texas where they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
After their experience in the Holy Ghost, C.W.'s grandfather, Bynum asked them to leave. They had no furniture, and no place to go. C.W's Uncle Allen, loaned them his old flatbed truck, and they went to San Antonio, and for $17.00 they bought some furniture. Since they had no house, and there was no such thing as apartments, they moved under the trees on Bro. Heicholzer's place. There, they slept under a little tent and cooked and ate under the trees until a Polish man by the name of Ed Zedek came and rented them a little two room "shot-gun" house. A few weeks later C.W. Came in one day and told Ruth that the Lord had called him to preach. Ruth went into shock. She did not have the Holy Ghost yet. She asked him how could he preach; with no money for him to go to school. C.W. replied, "I will preach what God gives me."
C.W. was a most unusual person. His persona seemed larger than life itself. He was a tall man. Around 6"4. In his youthful days he was rather lean built, but as he reach middle age his physical frame began to fill out, until he became an intense, and decisive personality to behold. When he walked into a room, all heads would turn to observe his human figure that demonstrated the awesome ability to take center stage on his own accord.
Although he appeared on the surface to be tough skinned, for those who knew him personally, knew that beneath his thick layer of skin and gruff voice was a "gentle giant." Deep within, he was a soft spirited soul, who truly manifested a love for people. Elder Shew was easily touched by the suffering of others. He was eager to reach out and help those in real need, and even found to be vulnerable to pain himself. Sometimes his pulpit mannerisms appeared somewhat straight forward, and brutally honest. Especially when he was waging war against sin. He would declare war against the devil, and the powers of hall by demonstrating absolutely no fear, as he stood strong and ready to defend what he believed in. Elder Shew held strong convictions and declared that there was no back-up gear in him.
He possessed some unique traits that very few of his counterparts possessed. In his strength, was the ability to withstand the winds of opposition without flinching. Elder Bill Garrett would often call C.W. and ask how he was doing. Elder Shew would respond by saying, "I'm sitting on the top limb. Waiting for a new one to grow out." He was willing to stand all alone if necessary. He believed that one of his ministerial responsibilities was to save everyone he could from being lost. He would do everything in his power to persuade a person to live for God. He was a firm believer in the eternal judgement of God.
Some of his greatest attributes were found in his generosity and hospitality. It was indeed a privilege to be on the inner circle of his friendship. Those who held this distinct honor realized his enthusiasm to go all out, in showing you a great time. During his annual 4th of July Open Bible Conference, the "who's who" of Pentecost would drive from near and far to attend. During the afternoon, when church was recessed, he would invite all his minister friends to his house, where he would demonstrate a huge display of his cooking ability. His backyard BBQ grill became the water-hole for preachers and conversation. Accompanied with much laughter! Elder Shew would sport his famous long white apron with a tall chef's hat, and grill big juicy steaks for everyone to enjoy. This was one of the happiest times of his life.
C.W. Shew was a contemporary of the late great, Elder R.F. Tobin. Tobin succeeded Bishop G.T. Haywood as pastor of Christ Temple in 1932. Elder Shew often ministered at Christ Temple in Indianapolis, and the saints loved him so! If you were blessed to attend a meeting where Elder Shew was in attendance, you were sure to hear him bellow out remarks, such as: "My Lord and My God." It became one of his trademark expressions. Other of his renown statements were: "You can say that again" or "Tell it like it is" or "make it plain."
He was known for his unconventional outbursts while one of his friends was teaching. He always added an interesting dimension to the situation. Sometimes his close friend, the late, Elder R.C. Cavaness would stop teaching and say, "Now C.W. let me do the teaching" or "This is my Bible class for your information." They would bicker back and forth, then burst out into laughter. It was a great time in the life of C.W. Shew.
In 1968, Elder Shew became ill with Leukemia, and was dying with no hope, outside of divine intervention. There was nothing the medical doctors could do to save his life, and all hope was slipping away. After eleven months of struggling with this decease, Elder Verbal Bean walked into his room and laid hands on him, praying the prayer of faith. Afterward, he told Elder Shew that he was healed. immediately, his strength began to return as he was completely healed. He continued preaching for many years to come.
Elder C.W. Shew was a member of several Pentecostal organizations. He held credentials with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the United Pentecostal Church, and the Apostolic Ministers fellowship. Where ever he traveled he left an indelible mark on people. On August 4, 1983, at the age of 73, Chester Walton Shew departed this life for his eternal reward.
He was inducted into the Apostolic Ministerial Hall of Fame in 2006.