From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, By Terry Evans, September 15, 2012 - HUDSON OAKS — Whenever Scott Crenshaw wonders about God’s plan for him, he only has to feel the bumps on the back of his head.
“Anytime I have a bad day, when I’m thinking, ‘God do you have a purpose for me?’ I reach back and feel those knots,” said Crenshaw, pastor of New River Fellowship in Hudson Oaks.
The bumps are the source of one of Crenshaw’s favorite lines: “If you just took a breath, God has a plan for your life.”
Twenty years ago, Crenshaw thought he’d taken his last breath when a man shot him three times at extremely close range.
A story about the incident in the March/April 1992 issue of Southwestern News, the alumni magazine for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Crenshaw was a student, said the bumps on his head “were the extent of Crenshaw’s injuries. The gun was loaded with blanks.”
That’s what Crenshaw thought until 2008. But an X-ray that was part of an insurance physical when he became pastor at New River showed one bullet lodged in his shoulder and two more mushroomed against his skull.
“I’d seen such densities in X-rays before,” said chiropractor Joel Kleven, who performed the exam. “Once in a while I’d get someone in who’d had a hunting accident or been hit by shrapnel in a war.
“I nonchalantly asked ‘Have you ever been shot? He got this horrified look on his face and said ‘Why do you ask?’
Kleven, who has since retired, told Crenshaw that there was shrapnel at the base of his skull.
“He said ‘I was involved in a mugging and the mugger held a handgun to the back of my head. I felt the kick of the gun against my skull and thought he was trying to scare me by shooting blanks,’” Kleven said.
The bullets had a flattened appearance “kind of like little pancakes,” Kleven said. But he couldn’t tell what kind of gun had been used.
Neither could Crenshaw.
“It looks like a small caliber,” he said. “I didn’t get the opportunity to ask the guys that night, the guys who shot me.”
‘Go ahead and kill me’
Crenshaw had gone to a convenience store on Berry Street to get some ice cream for his wife, Renee, who was pregnant with their third son.
He was standing in line to pay when two men walked through the front door and, even though it was January “it literally felt like hot wind came through,” Crenshaw said. “It felt like something evil had just entered.”
One of the men struck up a conversation, putting Crenshaw at ease. When he left the store, the men asked Crenshaw for a ride. Putting aside his first impression, he saw this as “a witnessing opportunity” and let them into his car. Even when they both sat in the back seat, he wasn’t worried. They gave him directions and Crenshaw started driving.
Crenshaw still intended to talk to the men about God when they had him stop on a dark residential street.
He was shocked when both men jumped out and one of them put a gun in his face, pulled him from the car and told Crenshaw to get face down on the ground.
“I told him no,” he said. “I said ‘I’m a Christian. I die right now I go straight to heaven. Go ahead and kill me.’ And I turned my back to him.”
In psychiatry books, Crenshaw said he had read that when people stand at death’s door, whatever is the most important thing to them is what they’re focused on.
“I was excited because I knew I was going home,” he said. “I had prayed to Jesus, I had worshipped Jesus and I was about to see him. There would be no more bills or contracts or exams. All I knew was I would hear the first part of the gun going off and then I’d see Christ.”
Instead, Crenshaw felt the gun touch the back of his head, heard the gunshots and thought he’d been hit with a baseball bat. His body lurched forward, but he didn’t fall. The assailant shot once more as he was getting into Crenshaw’s car, hitting him in the shoulder, then drove away leaving a confused Crenshaw standing in the street.
“My head is throbbing, my ears are ringing, but I’m alive,” Crenshaw said.
Story inspires members
When Fort Worth police arrived, Crenshaw declined medical attention and asked only to be driven back to his apartment on the seminary campus. Renee Crenshaw poured hydrogen peroxide over her husband’s wounds — which both of them thought were the result of wadding from blank rounds tearing the surface of the skin — and bandaged them.
After all, who walks away after being shot in the head?
Crenshaw said he’s certain that he would have died had God not had a plan for him.
The pastor’s faith inspired New River member Ronald Bell.
“So many people talk religion, but when it gets down to it, how many of us would have done that?” Bell said. “He was that close to God that he said ‘I’m ready to go.’ Everyone likes to think that’s what they’d do. I think most people would be begging for their lives, telling the [gunman] how many kids they have.”
Crenshaw believes that God’s plan for him included helping build the congregation at New River. Four years ago there were roughly 350 people attending each of two services. The church breaks ground in October on a new sanctuary to accommodate the 2,000 folks who show up each Sunday.
“We’re having a blast, with four services now,” Crenshaw said. “My staff would kill me if we added a fifth service.”
The growth is only partly due to Crenshaw, said Bell, who went to many churches before settling two years ago at New River Fellowship.
“Any church I ever went to, I was sitting there as an obligation, but always ready to go,” he said. “With this church I enjoy being there all through the service and I’m ready to go back the next weekend.”
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620