Man of Many Vices Finds New Life
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
“I would spend about $3,000 a night in the strip clubs.”
Ernest Shannon believed he was living the high life; going to clubs and drinking, and having affairs. He had plenty of money to party, thanks to his successful package delivery service business.
Ernest remembers, “I was good. I took care of business. And I was up the point where the contracts were $3.2 million a year is what I was making with them, and probably grossing about close to one million a year.”
But Ernest was about to pay a price for the lifestyle he had chosen. He professed to becoming a Christian at twelve years old. But when he went away to college, he began to party. “You know I’m away from home, says Ernest.” There’s all these people. There’s all these women, there’s all this stuff going on. I wanted to be a part of it.”
During his last two years at college, his parents died. He dropped out of college and started selling crack cocaine. Ernest says, “That was really a very bad turning point of my life when things even got worse.”
While driving home one day, police pulled Ernest over for a traffic violation. They found a kilo of cocaine in the car with a street value of $100,000. He was arrested but got off on a technicality. Ernest then met Lavon and three months later they married. Lavon remembers, “With his charm and going out for dinner, he was a really good gentleman back then. He was a very nice and a well-mannered person.”
He quit dealing drugs and went to work for an express mail delivery company. Five years later, Ernest started Shannon Enterprises, his own freight and delivery services company. It was during extended business trips for the company that he started hanging out in strip clubs and having affairs. Ernest remembers, “I felt guilty the fact I was a married man, and also a business man, but it didn’t stop me. I still continued on. But you are feeling, ‘Hey, I’m doing a service.’ You know I am giving them money. They are doing something for me.”
He neglected his wife Lavon and their son. She started noticing that something was wrong. Lavon recalls, “I might have been checking laundry you know and I could see the lipstick on the collar from women.”
Lavon asked Ernest to leave. “I had all his things packed and I had them on the outside, and I told him just to pick them up and just to keep on moving.”
The couple separated. Ernest hung out with his many girlfriends. He showered them with extravagant gifts like cars and jewelry. Meanwhile, Lavon began to pray fervently for her husband. “When I got down on my knees I prayed and I asked God to please, if it was meant for us to be, for Him to change him if we got back together.”
Ernest finally began spending more money than he could bring in, and eventually lost his business. Ernest believed the only answer to his problems was to commit suicide. “I had a gun. I was just going to shoot myself and just get it over with. Because it just gets too much to bear,” says Ernest.
Before he pulled the trigger Ernest cried out to God one last time to change him. “I was just like, ‘Lord, I can’t do this no more. I can’t do it. I can’t do this no more, Lord. I need you to change me, Father. Change me, God. I’ve messed up everything You’ve given me. I messed up the business. I messed up my family. Change me! Change me, Lord!’”
Ernest remembers something supernatural seemed to happen at that moment. “And I remember it’s wasn’t even like a deep sleep and it’s like I had died, and the spirit of God – I’ll never forget, it was an angel who was standing above me as like Jesus just came through and it’s hard to describe. It’s like he just took my body and it was like I was just gone and it was like God replaced me with something new. And I said, ‘Lord, Father.’ It’s like He just changed me. It’s hard to explain. It was like I said, like the old me died and he just replaced me. And you go back to the scripture that He will make you a new creature. And He made me a new creature.”
Ernest ended his affairs and went back to church. Soon he and his wife Lavon were reunited. “And when I got home, she said, ‘I had been praying that God would change you.’ So she had been praying for me. You know, out of all I’ve done, she still prayed for me, you know? And God is so good. He heard my prayers. He heard her cry.”
Ernest went back to work for a trucking company as a driver. He finished his bachelor’s degree at Regent University and is currently working on his divinity degree. He has two boys now and he is grateful for second chances. “To be forgiven felt so good and felt so just powerful, and you just felt so much love. The love from God and the love from her. If you just repent, God’s love is just over powerful. And then He even had to put the love in her heart to receive me again. And it’s just love.”
Lavon says, “I’m his princess now. And that’s the way he makes me feel now.”
Ernest says, “We can’t change who we are, only Jesus Christ can change us. And if you ask Him, He will change you. You’ve got to trust Him. Ask Him and trust Him and He will change you.”
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