By JOHN FORTMEYER
VANCOUVER, Wash. — As Scripture says, all people are made in God’s image, but Jon Sheptock quips that maybe he has an advantage regarding that.
“If He does have arms — and you know, I’m made in God’s image, and so maybe all you people may be (made) wrong!” Sheptock said, eliciting big laughter from a huge breakfast crowd in Vancouver. “But when I get to Heaven, I’ll get to give Him the biggest hug for the life that He has allowed me to live.”
That’s because Sheptock, who was born in 1976 with no arms and a short right leg, now testifies that Christ has given him life to the fullest
despite the horrendous rejection and ridicule that he faced from birth.
“I want people to know that there’s something different on the outside of Jon, but also different on the inside,” said Sheptock, the featured speaker at the 12th annual Clark County Mayors’ and Civic Leaders’ Prayer Breakfast Oct. 25 at the Vancouver Hilton. Sponsored by local chapters of Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America, the event drew almost 800 people.
Theme this year was “Making Life’s Challenges God’s Victories,” and Sheptock exemplified that not only with a gripping testimony, but also with a powerful singing voice that he used three times in his presentation to bring glory to God — and which brought the crowd to its feet.
Sheptock was born in New Jersey. Overwhelmed by the physical disability their newborn faced, Sheptock’s birth parents immediately rejected him and turned him over to the state. After six months in foster care, he was adopted by Joanne and Rudy Sheptock, who felt called by God to give a home to unwanted and afflicted children. All together the Sheptock family included seven biological children and 27 adopted children. That grand total of 34 may have set a record nationally, according to Jon.
Sheptock says his parents asked God for “faith like Abraham,” which he credits for his learning to walk even though doctors said he never would.
He also remembers coming home as a very young child from seeing the movie Grease and bursting into one of that musical’s songs. “I’ve been singing since age 3,” he said.
Despite being raised in a devout Christian household, Sheptock stuggled throughout his childhood with stares and nonstop ridicule and bullying from others, severe self-doubt, and the pain of knowing he could not do so many things that are a normal and routine part of growing up. The teen years were especially hard, and bitterness grew in his young adult years when even in junior college he was the target of hateful, hurtful comments.
The result was a time of what Sheptock describes as intense spiritual warfare. His despair reached the point that it seemed easier just to end his life than to go on.
Looking back, Sheptock said it is now clear where such thinking was rooted. “The devil is here to kill, steal and destroy,” he said
In total desperation, Sheptock cried out his rage and hurt to God: “You are going to have to come into my life and make me a new creature, because I can’t do it anymore.” That prayer was answered.
“I know within a shadow of a doubt … that the Lord took control of my life,” he said. “I realized all I had to do was ask my Creator, and He would help me through all the obstacles of my life.”
In the years since, said Sheptock, who now lives in Texas, he has been blessed with a wonderful Christian wife, Staci — who accompanied him to Vancouver — as well as their three children. Furthermore, he has the joy of working in a prison ministry in Texas and also of sharing his story at scores of events annually throughout the United States.
By looking to God, Sheptock now knows that anything is possible in this life. “No one has ever offered me the hope that Jesus Christ has offered me,” he concluded.
For more on his ministry, go to jonsheptock.com.