GOD IS MY SHIELD
Thomas (Tommy) Martin McGouey
I was earning a large salary - but there
was an aching void within which I could not fill. There had to be
more to life that just making money and pursuing a career. Years of
pain brought me to the moment when I felt suicide seemed to be the only
way out of my mental anguish. Literally - I painted a bull's eye on
myself and called the police. I wanted them to take my life.
As they were forced to take me down while firing their weapons at me, I
came to see in an amazing way what the Bible means when it says, "The
Lord is my shield."
FILL THE VOID
I was financially stable. I was deeply rooted
in Corporate America as an Administrator of two Respiratory Care
Departments. I was a working professional in the medical field with
20 years of experience at two New York hospital centers. I had all
the material possessions that many people seek after. All the bells
and whistles that the secular world strives for, as least I thought so at
the time, and to top it off ... a caring relationship with a great lady by
the name of Connie ... a wonderful, loving and caring soul mate of mine
that I had searched so long for.
Yet there was something missing in my
life ' a void ' an aching ' hollowness ' a lack of completeness ' a lack
of meaningful purpose for my existence - that I just could not find or
fill, no matter how hard, or what I tried.
Material possessions, drugs, alcohol,
switching relationships ' these pursuits would not satisfy me for any
length of time. They always left me coming up short. Nothing could make
me feel complete.
I did not even understand at the time
that my life needed "eternal purpose." I thought I had achieved my purpose ' after all, I had succeeded at the 'Great American
I thought life was just about having
fun and about meeting my needs. As much as Connie pleaded with me to
stop my destructive behavior, I couldn't. Connie cared so much for
me, but couldn't watch me kill myself one drink at a time. I was so
blind to it all. I robbed her of health and peace. I was so
selfish and self-seeking and ended up hurting the very one who meant the
world to me. I loved Connie and she loved me, but I did not love
myself enough to change. Something drastic was about to happen.
The darkness in my soul seemed to grow
and I watched it overpower me. With this - and a combination of alcohol
and a bankrupt spirit - I turned away from the last positive thing in my
life, and I decided that death was the only answer for me -- the only way
to escape the despair I was in '- to hopefully end my pain, and the pain I
was causing those who loved me most.
I devised a plan. A fool-proof plan
that would be successful to its very ending. I examined it thoroughly --
inside out, forwards and backwards. A 'perfect' suicide, my darkened mind
rationalized. A blaze of glory, so I thought.
I would set the stage during the time when the fewest
amount of innocent people would be walking around to possibly get hurt.
(One o'clock in the morning, to be exact). I planned the location
where this would occur. I knew where the police would be firing from
-- a backdrop of an embankment. I was in sort of soup bowl.
I didn't want any stray bullets possibly harming anyone else. No one
was to be hurt here except for myself. The stage was finally set for
my final exit.
ATTEMPTED SUICIDE BY A POLICEMAN'S BULLET
I phoned the police by calling 911. I
said, "There is a crazy guy running around the complex with a gun." I
was living in West Knoxville at the time, and had mapped out my plan in the
field out in front of the apartment complex.
On that fateful night of September 16,
2003, I painted a bull's-eye on my chest. My purpose for doing so
was to send a message that would inform my sister that this was a planned
suicide. I did not notify anyone of what I was about to do. No
last minute phone calls. This was not a cry for help. I
was prepared to die.
When the police arrived, I was
gazing straight up at the sky, transfixed on this one lone star in the
cold dark sky. I prayed upon that star with all my heart. I
prayed that this ordeal would be over quickly and as painlessly as
possible. I also prayed that Connie and my sister Kathy would
forgive me for what I was about to do. Then I asked God for
THE LORD WAS MY SHIELD
The police arrived as expected. With
all the noise of bullhorns and shouting going on - the flashlights pointed
in my direction - I was blinded by their glaring lights. It was pretty
surreal. My heart was pounding, but there was no turning back now.
I had an unloaded BB-gun tucked behind me beneath my
belt, and I started walking toward the police officers. They started
yelling at me to stop. The life-and-death tension was building to an
insane crescendo. It was time to force them to shoot. It was time to
reach for my BB pistol. My plan was about to be fully executed.
When I reached for the pistol ' six
officers shot at me. They shot a combined total of 28 times, yet only
one bullet hit me! It hit me with such force that it knocked me off
Lying there on the ground waiting to
die - blood everywhere - I knew my miserable life was going to be over
shortly. Everything was a hazy blur after that.
I have nothing but praise and
appreciation for the police department and the officers present that
night. I always have. They were placed in a situation that gave them no
other choice but to shoot me. They had no clue at the time that I was
using them to take my life.
Since then, people have asked, 'How
could all the other 27 bullets have missed you?!'
I have heard all the explanations:
'Poor shooting skills; luck; lighting; nerves; coincidence ' other
No one can convince me otherwise or
ever will: I know the Lord was standing in front of me that night
protecting me ' shielding me, and forgiving me, when I could not forgive
What I didn't realize until later is
that I need to be fully born again of God's Spirit. I needed to have
a divine connection with the Creator of the universe. I needed a
personal encounter with the living God. God did not inspire my plan to destroy
myself, but in his infinite compassion and mercy, He chose to use it to
manifest Himself to me in a way that still leaves me dazed sometimes, when
I think back about it.
God heard my prayer when I gazed at
that star, but He knew that I needed more than just forgiveness for trying
to destroy the life He had given me. He knew that if He allowed me to die
' my anguish would last for all eternity. Death would not have been the
end of my anguish ' literally only it's very beginning.
Not only did God spare me from the hell
of eternal anguish I was about to enter into with no turning back ' He also
had a purpose in store for me. I just didn't realize it then. He had
work for me to do to help build His Kingdom in the lives and hearts of
other people, being a useful vessel He could use to help snatch others
like myself out of the kingdom of darkness and spiritual pain - the
devil's kingdom - and it would change me and my life forever.
is my shield!
PRISON ' A TIME OF REFLECTION
I was convicted (rightfully so), and
spent the next 16 months in jail for aggravated assault and reckless
I was in the penal farm for a long
time, and this gave me much time to reflect on my life. My poor decision
making - the people I hurt - my reason for living ' I had a lot of time
to reflect on all these things.
It was there in my prison cell that God
began to do some deep emotional surgery on me. It was there that the
Spirit of the living God began to draw me to Jesus Christ in a way I had
never known. It was there that a personal relationship with my heavenly
Father started coming together. It was there that He redeemed me '
causing me to be spiritually born again as (John 3:3) speaks of ' uniting me
fully with Him because of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as
payment for the penalty of all my sins. It was there that I was snatched
out of the kingdom of darkness that I didn't even know I was in
' and was translated to the Kingdom of the living God ' the Kingdom of
everlasting Light and Truth.
It took three months for my bullet wound
to heal. I think back often to where the apostle Paul asked God to have
his thorn removed from him. (See: 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12).
'My Grace is sufficient for thee' was God's reply. God did not
I've come to realize that God still
allows 'thorns' to one degree or another in His followers, to teach us
mysteries of His grace, and to teach us to rely on Him in ways we wouldn't
do otherwise. Each of us have our "daily cross to carry" in one form
or another, and some people have much heavier crosses to carry than others
it would seem, at different times in their journey with the Lord. To the human mind, it makes no logical sense, but since
when has God ever used our 'human logic' to make His ways known to us
' to lighten the path that takes us to a meaningful personal relationship
with our Lord Jesus Christ? My 'human logic' expressed itself by trying
to destroy my life. It took God's grace to not only spare my life, but to
find the correct path to where real life can only be found. See:
(John 10:10) for understanding.
Today ' when the bullet fragments that
are still embedded in my shoulder hit a nerve junction and pain shoots
throughout parts of my body ' often I have asked God the same question:
'Will you please remove this pain?' I know He can. Yet the only thing
I'm left with, though it makes little earthly sense ' I too must believe:
'His grace is sufficient for me.' With that grace comes the strength to
endure the pain and keep on doing what I know God wants me to do ' despite
I don't want to give anyone the
impression that I think I am - in any way, shape or fashion ' an apostle
Paul! I'm just trying to say that the bullet fragments that remain in my
shoulder are a constant reminder of the darkness I was redeemed from and
the pain brings victory to me.
God answered the prayer of a sinner
when I was at my lowest point ' when I finally humbled myself enough and was
prepared to surrender my whole life to him ' totally ' then changes in my
spiritual life exploded. He became my focus, and my self-seeking ended.
I came to realize that when we live only for ourselves; live only to
satisfy ourselves; live only for selfish pleasure to seek our happiness .
. . it is impossible to connect with the God the apostle Paul met. It is
when we choose to live fully for the Lord -- that's when we are in proper
position to discover what true living is all about. Everything else is
just a counterfeit ' spiritual darkness ' self-deception ' the same
spiritual darkness the apostle Paul was in ' thinking he was fine with God
' and didn't even have a clue how deceived he truly was ' until he got
struck down too. It was by the mercy and grace of God that he too was
struck down, so that he could see just how fully lost spiritually and
deceived he truly was.
Since then I have been convicted by His
Spirit to help other people in need to one degree or another. He
'recruited' me into His Kingdom, and now He has given me a chance to
'recruit others' into His Kingdom. What a blessing it has been, to have
such an eternal purpose! It has given me such joy and peace. It truly
has filled that void I sought to have filled in my soul. God truly
granted the desire of my heart ' to have that void filled.
Trying to help others connect properly
with the living God (not the counterfeit ways the devil has flooded the
world with) actually started while I was still in jail. I sought to guide
others spiritually with the tools that God gave me. I did the best I knew
to do with what I had. Many called (and call) it 'Jailhouse
Christianity,' and although some might try to hide behind it for personal,
selfish gain at the time, that wasn't my case. My conversion was the
real deal. I was given the truth from God, and the truth set me free even
behind bars in that 10' x 8' cell, as John 8:32 promises the truth will do
(to those who are totally and humbly sincere with Jesus Christ, of
While in jail, I was blessed to meet my
spiritual mentor and precious friend, Bobby Peak (he was with a visiting
jail ministry) and since have had a wonderful relationship with Bobby and
I attend church at (Redemption Church
International), Pastors Ed and Nora King's ministry, Wednesdays and
Sundays with the Peaks. I consider them family. I am privileged each church service
with passing out the MENTOS ('Church Candy' as I lovingly call them).
They get passed down the row during the service. 'They are minty fresh,"
and the young people especially like them. (Anyone interested in knowing more
about my church can go to their website:
The Lord had placed it upon my heart to
look into a faith-based Christian halfway house named Peace At
Last Ministry. From the moment I walked through the front door, I
knew one way or the other that I would be a servant with this ministry.
Since graduating from their six-month discipleship training course, my life has
been a wonderful spiritual journey, being filled with a spirit of
forgiveness and love. Working with John Wampler (founder) and
counselor, and Vicki Wilkerson (counselor), the wonderful staff that have
helped me hone the gifts the Lord has blessed me with to use to minister
his grace and mercy to others. I have found my place in serving God down
here on this planet as I write this testimony, and am so thankful to God
Anyone interested in knowing more
about the Peace At Last Ministry can go to
(Further updates to the website will be coming shortly)
Many well-meaning people and
institutions try to blame today's problematic behaviors on society.
Anger, addiction, dysfunctional family life, environment, etc., are only
surface problems or manifestations of something unrecognized by most of
the authorities that are paid (or volunteer without pay) to try to solve
the difficult issues every society and nation faces.
It's my own opinion that all these
problems can be traced to an unfulfilled life without God's purpose or
plans for our lives based on the Holy Bible. We all know that there are
people, who just like the apostle Paul, would destroy every Christian
believer on the face of this planet, and truly believe in their heart's
they are serving 'God's purpose,' and they certainly believe with all
their heart's that they are fulfilling their life purpose. Obviously
they are deceived in which God they truly are serving, because the
Bible clearly tells us that on this planet, we either serve Satan,
the devil, or we serve Jesus Christ. There are no other options, just
two. When we serve only ourselves ' our own pursuit of happiness and
pleasure as I did ' we are serving Satan's deception and haven't
discovered it yet. One doesn't understand this until they have met the
God who created Satan and all things, and sometimes they are not ready to
serve the real God until they are 'struck down' just like I had to
be. Hopefully not with a bullet ' but I'm sure I wasn't the first, nor
will I be the last!
Until this is realized and addressed,
very little will be resolved in society. Everything will just be 'band-aid' fixes. It takes the full grace of God to address the ills of this
world, and those ills will not be fully dealt with, the Bible tells us,
until Jesus Christ returns to subdue fully the powers of darkness that
control most of the masses.
CONCLUSION - THE
I write this testimony for the sole
purpose in hoping God might use it to help someone else discover God's
grace and love, to the Glory of God my Father. I pray they might turn
from their own darkness to the Light of Christ.
By the way, I have never been 'richer'
in my entire life. Materialism and pursuits of happiness and pleasure are
no longer my focus. The 'Word' (The Holy Bible, for those who may not be
familiar with the term 'Word') is my compass, and I shall follow it
forever until I can hear the words from the One who died for me say, 'Good
job my faithful servant. Many missions accomplished!
As of today, I have sought to heal and
restore fractured relationships of those I may have hurt from the past.
I have made life-long friendships with my Mentor and his family; I work in a loving
Christian environment. I have Joy. I have purpose, and I have Peace at
Last. I pray you find all this also. It's available, I assure you.
Feel free to contact me by emailing me
if you would like to place a prayer request with the ministry, or just
want to fellowship with a 'Sinner saved by Grace,' or learn about the
ministry Peace At
Last Ministry and its needs. I can be E-mailed at:
I want to leave you with this:
I wish you enough sun to keep your
I wish you enough rain to appreciate
the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep
your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the
smallest joys in life appear bigger.
I wish you God's Grace.
I pray he becomes your shield
May God spread his blessings upon you,
your family and friends today, and forever.
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If
not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can
have the assurance from the Holy Spirit that heaven will be your home,
if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for yours sins, or
He didn't (and He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the
Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus
Christ on the Cross to cover your sins? We plead with you ... please don't
make such a tragic mistake.
To be at peace with God;
to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain
that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please
to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do
about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend
eternity, dear one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most
important decision you'll ever make in this life.
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