Kingdom Journey: Shawnele Surplus (Part 1)

The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.

Name: Shawnele S. | Age: 50 | Location: Oregon | Rest. Mov. Roots: Church of Christ


1.) Sister Shawnele, tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Shawnele Surplus and I live in Central Oregon (which is where my husband, Clint, and I were both born and raised). I spend most of my days raising and homeschooling our three minor children, keeping our home, and helping my husband with our horse training business.

(For the record, you wouldn’t want me to train your horse; I do the office work part of the business…and a little bit of the grunt work!)

We also have three adult children, two grandchildren, a small beef herd, a small horse herd, a passel of chickens, and a couple of dogs. We are also avid gardeners. 

All of these things combine to make a perfect practice ground for learning to love and follow Jesus.

2.) When did you come to follow Jesus?

I was raised to know about and have feelings of love for Jesus.

I attended a Baptist church as a teenager, but I never knew what it meant to truly know and love the Lord until I met an amazing body of Christians in Missoula, Montana when I was 24. I actually didn’t know it was a Church of Christ until I moved away (the sign said, “The Lord’s Church: a church of Christ, a family of God”).

When I moved away and asked how I would ever find such a body of believers living out God’s Word with passion and sacrifice, I discovered that they were not just a Church of Christ, but a more conservative “non-institutional” congregation. I would never again find a church like that one. The people in that body have forever molded and inspired me.

3.) Can you explain more about your involvement in the Churches of Christ?

That congregation in Missoula was my first taste of God’s intention for love, deep fellowship, and unity in His people. After my time there, I worshiped in a few other non-institutional Churches of Christ as I moved about – finally worshiping in “mainstream” Churches of Christ.  

Clint was “born and raised” in mainstream Churches of Christ in our area and that is where we reconnected after having known each other throughout childhood.

4.) How did you become interested in a more “radical”, Kingdom-focused Christianity?

For a while, conventional Church of Christ Christianity worked for Clint and I, but we began to crave more than programs and the lifeless twice-on-Sunday-and-don’t-forget-Wednesday- night routine. We knew there was more – but when we talked to others and asked (maybe even agitated) for deeper relationships there was just no interest in developing these relationships or a more open look at the Scriptures.  

People thought we were crazy or, worse, rabble-rousers! We were also seeing some inconsistencies in teaching to obey all of scripture. Certain passages were ignored or explained away. And when we would challenge these, it was not well received.

The last Church of Christ we attended was 30 minutes away, so on the drive we began to listen to podcasts and sermons. It was listening to Francis Chan on our drives to and from Church that began to really shake us up and cause us to begin to look at our walk with Jesus from a different vantage point.

Suddenly, our church attending, Sunday School teaching, LTC-leading, there-every-time-the-doors-were-open Christianity began to be exposed for the superficial walk that it was. At every turn, the rabbit hole went deeper.

At some point during that time, I was on an email list with other homeschooling moms and the topic of head covering came up. It had in the past, but I never bothered with it. “It’s just cultural”, after all! However, after having had our eyes opened to the reality our beliefs about what the Bible teaches really weren’t “settled” after all, I decided to take a closer look.

I was amazed…stunned…disturbed…by what I saw!

Employing the same principles I had learned in my beloved Churches of Christ, it was easy to see I should be covering my head when I prayed or taught.

More than half hoping to be wrong, I asked Clint to read the passage with an open mind and tell me what he believed it said. He really studied it for the first time and then told me how he understood it.

And then began our search for a suitable head covering.

(And the people who thought we were crazy now knew we were!)

In retrospect, this was a crucial fork in the road, setting the stage for how we would handle these issues in the coming years. I have friends who have broached this topic with their husbands only to be ridiculed and discouraged. I cannot imagine how challenging this road would be if that were my situation.

Even though I had begun to cover, I inhaled everything on head covering I could find  which was our introduction to David Bercot and Scroll Publishing where things really began to get out of hand!

Click here for part 2!

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