SKIATOOK, Okla. (BP)–In his 68 years, Bob Shoemake was never sick. He had never been hospitalized. But a week before his 69th birthday, he was diagnosed with what he called the “big C” — cancer.
On his 69th birthday, surgeons spent seven hours removing his colon, rectum and part of his intestines.
“I knew it was serious when the doctor rescheduled surgeries and said I was the only one he was going to do that day,” recalled Shoemake, a full-time evangelist, who has also spent 18 years as a pastor and eight as a director of missions.
Shoemake, who makes his home in Skiatook, said he began having some minor problems in April and was scheduled for tests in May, but his doctor went on a skiing trip and broke his arm and leg. So the tests were rescheduled for June 6.
Shoemake remarked that he has been amazingly healthy while, in some years, spending as many as 46 weeks on the evangelism trail and eating “probably everything but armadillo.”
He said he credits prayer support from across the nation for what doctors are calling his “miraculous” recovery.
The surgery was right after the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, and Shoemake said he has been told prayers went up from there for him. About 25 people, he said, gathered at the hospital to wait and pray with his wife during the surgery.
Shoemake said the first thing he did was ask his surgeon if he was a Christian.
“He said he was, and asked me if that would make a difference,” Shoemake said. “There was a bond between us through that conversation, and we had prayer together several times while I was in the hospital.”
Shoemake said much of his hospital stay was like a revival. At one point, he said, one of the nurses told him and his surgeon if Shoemake decided to leave evangelism and the doctor decided to quit practicing medicine, the two of them could go on the road as stand-up comedians.
One reason for the lightheartedness in the hospital room was that doctors declared Shoemake healed of the cancer, and said no follow-up treatment would be required.
“I believe in miracles,” Shoemake said. “I believe God can heal with or without the use of doctors and medicine. The doctor said I hit bottom, but came straight back up. He said he didn’t know that he’s seen anyone come back as quickly as I did.”
Shoemake said before the surgery, he pulled out all of his favorite Scriptures, but the one which touched him most was 2 Kings 20 where God came to Hezekiah and told him to set his house in order.
“I jokingly said, ‘It’s a win-win situation. If I die, I’ll beat you folks to Heaven,'” Shoemake said.
Shoemake related that when Jim Miller, his father in ministry, heard about the surgery, he asked God how to pray, and Hezekiah came to his mind.
“Jim said he never had any doubt about the outcome,” Shoemake said. “God gave Hezekiah 15 more years. Check out July 13, 2017.”
Shoemake said he has observed over the years the devil attacking God’s people morally and doctrinally, but he said he has seen a strong attack of physical bodies the last few years.
“More of my preacher friends have gone through physical jolts than any time I can remember,” he said. “And people don’t want sick preachers.
“Some of the greatest evangelists I know have had all kinds of physical problems,” he noted. “I’ve always said, ‘Just before blessings, look out, and just after blessings, look out; in fact, just look out.'”
Shoemake who has preached more than 1,000 revivals, also served as pastor of churches across Oklahoma. He was director of missions for North Canadian Association, and has been president of the Conference of Oklahoma Baptist Evangelists and served as second vice president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, 1989-90.
Shoemake also served as coordinator of the Oklahoma-Indiana partnership beginning in 1995. He served in that capacity until Rue Scott became Oklahoma’s partnership missions coordinator in 1998.
Because of his quick recovery, Shoemake said he will not miss any of his preaching engagements.
“I started taking the summer months off a couple of years ago, and schedule only weekend meetings during that time,” he said. “My next meeting is a one-day event on Aug. 11, and I’ll be ready for that.”
Shoemake said he has a light fall schedule, but a full one in the spring.
Although fewer and fewer churches are scheduling revivals, Shoemake keeps relatively busy, mainly, he said, because 60-70 percent of the time, he makes return engagements to churches.
“I have helped some pastors as many as 10 times, and have been at Muskogee, Oldham Memorial 25 years in a row,” he said.
He travels with a pickup and fifth-wheel travel trailer, enabling him to stay close to the churches.
“I’m sort of like a circuit-riding preacher, which my grandfather was,” remarked Shoemake.
Shoemake said a concern of his is that few churches today have any kind of continuing discipleship training.
“There also used to be two-week revivals and two-week Vacation Bible Schools,” he noted. “Can you have revival in four days, like we are scheduling meetings today? You can have a gathering, and you can have folks saved, but true revival is an on-going discipling tying onto the church’s ministry.”
Shoemake said he believes his calling from the beginning was evangelism, and the success he’s had in the field is because God let him be a pastor for 18 years.
This fall, he will hit the road running, thankful for his renewed health and the opportunity keep on ministering.
“I knew my days of being nursed were coming to an end when my wife said I should make my own coffee,” he said.
Williamson is associate editor of the Baptist Messenger. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ON THE ROAD AGAIN.