The Duncan Banner

August 31, 2013

Relearning religion opened doors

Michael shank, ‘muscle and a shovel’ author to speak at eastside Sept. 1

Rebeka Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Almost everyone has at least one defining experience in their life which makes them take a closer look at all the beliefs they hold.

For Michael Shank, author of “Muscle and a Shovel,” his came when he attended a Bible study taught by a former co-worker only revealed as Randall.

Shank will share his story Sunday, Sept. 1, in three services at Eastside Church of Christ.

Services will be open to the public and are at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Though Shank originally rejected the lessons from Randall, about two decades later he put them into book form.

“I wrote notes as it all happened in 1988,” said Shank. “I threw the notebook in a box in the attic but saw it again in October 2008. I decided to put it in book form the spring of 2011 and it was published that summer.”

Randall’s teachings at first angered and frustrated Shank; he thought the man was teaching the Bible wrong. In fact, Shank’s notes were taken to try to later refute everything Randall was saying.

“It backfired on me because as I started to read the Bible, God really spoke to me,” Shank said.

“One thing was his thoughts about Bible references to baptism. His feeling was people need to be baptized to get forgiveness of their sins. I told him he was crazy.”

Shank said Randall showed him Bible verses 1 Peter 3:21 and Acts 22:16, which both reference baptism, and they stood out to him, even made him mad at first. Over a period of about seven months through reading the Bible, his beliefs began to change, Shank said.

Married for three years to his wife Jonetta when the teaching took place, he said they both started out with the same mindset and went on the journey together. The couple even reached their decision to be baptized at the same time. They now live in southern Illinois with their four sons.

“We were Baptists (before the teachings and are now Church of Christ),” said Shank. “We believed Jesus was the son of God but we did not really believe what this man was saying about 21st century Christianity.”

Despite the initial feelings about Randall’s teachings, Shank said the man truly impressed him with the “good, clean life” he lived. Shank said Randall taught him the belief that all are one in Christ, regardless of background or culture.

“He knew his Bible better than any pastor I ever met,” said Shank.

“He was loving, gentle and nonjudgmental. Even when I tried to fight with him, he wouldn’t fight with me.”

Randall now knows of Shank’s book and asked his true identity not be revealed because he wants Christ to be the star of the story, Shank said.

The author now travels 48 weekends out of the year to speak all over the country and has dedicated his live to ministry.

“The book has really taken off in the last five months,” Shank said. “I am nothing but a common man, God gets all the credit and all the honor. I’m blessed he chose someone like me to bring people to the Bible.”

Shank’s website warns his book is not for the easily offended and it will “anger, frustrate and agitate your senses beyond description.” He will have three different and not connected sermons today at Eastside Church of Christ.

The first will reveal Randall’s secret for memorizing the Bible, so simple anyone can do it. The second sermon will be about “watching for snakes in the camp,” and the third will talk about how Christians do not want to be lukewarm in their faith.

“This is my first time to Oklahoma,” Shank said. “I’m thrilled about coming to Duncan and I don’t know what to expect.”

Shank will not be selling his book while here, however, it is available on Amazon and at When asked what the meaning is, he responded, “It’s a secret title. You’ll have to read the book to find out.”