A couple of years ago I was at Martinsville during the driver meeting, and after that was over Raceway Ministries hosted a chapel service as they do before every NASCAR event.
Longtime driver Morgan Shepherd introduced the speaker for the chapel service, and afterwards, I caught up with him and asked him a few questions.
RRO: I really respect what you do driving your Nationwide car with “JESUS” on the hood, that’s a great testimony. How are you able to share your story and relationship with Jesus with driver and others surrounding the sport?
Shepherd: “We just listened to Steve Post here talk about things he’s gone through in his life. And that’s kinda what happened to me when I was 33 years old. I had a problem with drinking, not just once a month or sometimes every week, it had no set barrier, but when I’d drink I’d party and I was pretty much a waste. You know, if Jesus is not in your heart, you kind of limit what you can do for yourself. And in racing, I’ve been racing since I was 25 years old, started in 1967, and I would never drink on the weekends, because I didn’t want anything to interfere with what I loved to do.
“But then I realized as I got around 30 years old that it was a problem. And so I quit, I quit for a year, and then one day I said, what’s it gonna hurt to have a beer. And I stopped at the store, got me a carton of beer. Next thing you know I was right back where I started. I did it for a whole year on my own, and I found since I accepted Jesus Christ, Feb. 23, 1975, that I really can’t do anything without the strength that Jesus gives.
“Let Jesus Christ into your heart and many things have changed in my life. I didn’t get wealthy right off. I was 33 years old. It wasn’t until 1989 that God blessed me financially in racing. I was pretty well off until about 1998 when I signed a bad business deal and went broke again. But my faith was still the same. I realized that we’re all here for a purpose and my purpose may not be racing, but my purpose is in racing. And it’s the opportunity to lead people and we started a charity back in 1986 for helping handicapped people, and those years I’ve been broke and I’ve been wealthy.
“Whether I’m broke or wealthy or not, God has blessed me with my health and my opportunity to go ask people for money for our charity, so as long as I have my health and I’m able to do it and I’m able to help others, our charity will go on. 25th year this year, so that’s how Jesus Christ changes your life and the direction that you’re going in. I’m not the selfish person I was before Feb. 23, 1975 that I was, it’s just unreal how you totally think different. It’s not about me, it’s about helping others.”
RRO: When you went through difficult financial times, was it your faith that allowed you to keep pressing on, believing that God would reward you?
Shepherd: “Yes, and of course during those times when you’re on top, it’s hard to lose everything and it’s It’s always what God would do, he would let me see the rest of the world, whether it’s Africa or parts of the world where there’s fighting going on.
“My biggest strength has come since I met Josh Hill that was hit by a drunk driver and Josh can never do nothing, but sit in that wheelchair. And the times where I thought where I can’t do all this that I’m going and everything, and I would start praying, one of my first prayers is for Josh to not have the seizures.
“He’s in a wheelchair, he’s crippled, he can barely talk, but always pray that the seizures would go away. And as long as I have my health, how could I think about giving up on anything here on earth. God has blessed me with my health so long and if I think anything different, I just look at Josh.”
RRO: You’re outgoing with your faith; have you found that your common faith in Christ has allowed you to develop special relationships with other drivers?
Shepherd: “It has, and I’ve had people like Carl Edwards and different drivers come up to me and tell me that I’m an inspiration to them. I know I have the respect of the racing people, whether it’s NASCAR or other drivers, and I try to, drivers that I know that are not saved, I try to influence them. Maybe I’ll spend just a little bit of time with them, and, you know, I work on winning them over to the Lord.”
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