Pastor shot at church says God told him ‘stop trying to die’ in spirited return to pulpit

Pastor Clemmie Livingston Jr., (R) and his wife Gwendoline (L)
Pastor Clemmie Livingston Jr., (R) and his wife Gwendoline (L) | Screenshot/GoFundMe

In a spirited return to his pulpit just weeks after being shot in the face by carjackers, Pastor Clemmie Livingston Jr., of Zionfield Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, said God told him to “stop trying to die” as he bled in the aftermath of the shooting.

Livingston, who was shot just after 9 a.m. on Feb. 25 as he came out of his church before the start of his Sunday morning service, testified about the ordeal during his first appearance in the pulpit since the shooting. 

In his Easter Sunday message, the 71-year-old pastor expressed his gladness to be back, drawing cheers of “amen” and applause from his flock.

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“Glad to be here to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I remember the words of Peter. … He said, ‘Lord, it’s good to be here.’ And sometimes we take being here for granted, but it’s good to be here,” Livingston said after directing his congregants to Matthew 28:5-6.

Even after being a preacher for almost 40 years, he said he needs to keep reading Scripture to remind himself of how sure God’s promises are.

“Say what you will. I don’t care what you’re going through. You can always stand on the Word of God. His Word is everlasting all the way to everlasting,” he said.

Zionfield Baptist Church Pastor Clemmie Livingston Jr.
Zionfield Baptist Church Pastor Clemmie Livingston Jr. | Screenshot/Fox13

"When I look at the things of the world, when I look at things not just in the City of Memphis but when I look at things going on around the world, it would do you good to go back and read the Word of the Lord," Livingston said.

"When you study the Word of the Lord, there ain't nothing new going on that the Lord haven't already told us about. The Lord already told us that evil days would come. … He told us in His Word that the time shall come when nation shall rise up against nation. He told us about pestilence in the land. It's all in His Word," he said before pointing to Matthew 24: 13.

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved," the Scripture says.

Although he did not plan to discuss the shooting, Livingston was soon using the experience to encourage Christians not to give up on their faith.

"You've got to hold on. You've got to hold on. A few weeks ago, my faith was tested. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted," he said.

"Just a few weeks ago, I had to hold on to the faith when I was struck by a stray bullet. Don't know where it came from. I just saw myself going down on my knees. I said I wasn't going to talk about this … because it's not easy to talk about," he continued.

"But I was struck by a stray bullet that put me down on my knees. I didn't know what was going on. All I could feel was blood coming from every direction. All I could remember was Troy Franklin and my daughter Tracy holding my head," he recalled. "My daughter Tracy wouldn't let me shut my eyes. And I remember Sister Franklin saying, 'hold on.'"

He said he kept telling himself that he would be dead in a few minutes.

"'You can't keep bleeding the way you are and not die,'" he recalled telling himself.

God, however, had another message for him.

"When I was down on my knees, let me tell you what He said. He said to me, 'Stop trying to die and start back living.' He said to me, 'Not yet, not yet,'" Livingston declared to shouts of praise from the congregants. "When you're rooted in the Lord, you can feel His presence. I felt the presence of the Lord."

Livingston recalled wrestling with fear after the shooting.

The Memphis Police Department said in a previous report that Pastor Livingston, who is also battling bone cancer, was shot as suspects stole a 2019 silver Chevrolet Corvette from his church's parking lot. The suspects are yet to be identified or apprehended.

Livingston's wife, Gwendoline Livingston, previously revealed in a GoFundMe campaign that her husband will need to undergo multiple follow-up surgeries to repair the damage suffered by her husband as a result of the injury.

On Sunday, the pastor explained that he expects to be out of the pulpit for a while to accommodate the surgeries.

"I was informed that my surgeries, I have two others, more surgeries to have within the next couple of weeks," he said. "After today, I will not be able to really get into the pulpit, but I thank God that He allowed me to be here today."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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