Chester Walton Shew (1910~1983)
Apostolic Ministers Fellowship
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 Bro. 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 uncanney tenderness.
On May 11, 1929, Ruth Nelson became Mrs. Chester Walton Shew. There were no flowers, nor a reception. They started immediately 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 that blow, and moved from “here and yon”. Chester went back to work in the oil fields, and re-injured his back. Ruth first met Chester in the hospital in San Antonio. After a second trip to the hospital, they went to his grandfather’s farm for Chester to recuerate. Ruth tended to both Chester, and his grandfather, who was also ill. This is where their life really began. They were taken to a humble little church in Floresville, Texas and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
After their experience in the Holy Ghost, Chester’s grandfather Bynum asked them to leave. They had no furniture, and no place to go. Chester’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 Brother 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 Chester 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 he could preach; with no money for him to go to school. Chester replied, “I will preach what God gives me”.
Chester was a most unusual individual. His persona seemed larger than life itself. He was a tall man, around six feet, four inches. In his youthful days, he was rather lean built, but as he reached 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 this 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 he was a soft spirited soul, who truly manifested a love for people. Elder Shew was easily touched by the pain 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 pupit mannerisms appeared to be somewhat brutal, especially when he was waging an attack against sin. He would declare was against the devil, and the powers of hell 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 contemoraries possessed. In his strength, was the ability to withstand the winds of opposition without flinching. Elder Bill Garrett would often call Elder Shew, 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 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 judgment 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 Elder Shew’s 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 attend. During the afternoon when church was recessed, he would demonstrate a bodacious display of his cooking ability. His backyard BBQ grill became the watering hole for many preachers. Elder Shew would sport his famous long white apron with a tall chef’s hat, and flip big jucy steaks for everyone, until they were completely satisfied. This was one of the happiest times of his life.
C.W. Shew was a contemporary of the late Elder Robert F. Tobin, the man who succeeded Bishop Haywood at Christ Temple. Elder Shew often ministered at Christ Temple in Indianapolis, and the saints loved him so. If you were ever blessed to attend a meeting where Elder Shew was in attendance you was sure to hear him bellow ot 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 outburst while one of his friends was teaching. He always added an interesting dimension to the situation. Sometimes his close friend, the late 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 break out in 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 desease, 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, and he continued preaching for many more years.
Elder Shew was a member of several Pentecostal organizations. He held credentials with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the United Pentecostal Church International, and the Apostolic Ministers Fellowship. Wherever he traveled, he left an unforgettable impression on people. On August 4, 1983, at the age of 73 years, Chester Walton Shew went home to his eternal reward.