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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

Shining Lights: Pam Fisk

Updated: Jan 31

It's an honor for me to share Pam Fisk's Christian testimony with you. After reading her testimony, I think you'll agree that she is an extraordinary woman of God.

I've known Pam for approximately five years. In my 35(+) years working in the counseling/psychology profession, much of it dealing with suicide prevention, intervention, and critical incident stress, I've never seen a person experience so many crises and live to tell about it! What's even more remarkable is that Pam maintains her faith in the questions, no "why me?" she just believes that God has the plan.

If you have read the Book of Job, you know that Job was a man who suffered greatly and, despite his suffering, maintained his faith in God. God later rewarded him for his faith. I believe Pam's faith will be rewarded as well. We serve a good God.

Pam's testimony is included below. They are her words. I just added the headings. You will hear more from her as a contributing author here at Off The Bench Ministries, especially in the Suicide Prevention series. Her life experiences as a multiple suicide survivor have prepared her well to help other suicide survivors. We pray that you are both blessed and encouraged by her testimony.

Just for clarification purposes, a "suicide survivor" is a person who survives...lives on...after the completed suicide of a friend or family member.

Hi! I’m Pam.

I was born in 1956, number 5 out of a family of six children. I had a poor but happy childhood. I always felt loved! I mention this because even though at the time I always wanted what my peers had, I now know that God knew what He was doing all along.

I grew up in the country and daily had only my siblings to play and interact with. I was shy because of it but we learned to play and make do with what we had. We had to use our imaginations to make the most of our toys. Looking back I think that was the most fun of all. It most definitely caused us to appreciate what we had much more than we would have otherwise.

We lived about 10 miles from town and I rode the school bus to school for 17 ½ years. I went to the same school with mostly the same kids my whole life. We became more like family and are still connected today with many that are still living, if only on Facebook. I love that! I loved the country because we had so much freedom to roam and play. So many good memories! I was also blessed to have a large extended family, with l a lot of Aunts, Uncles, and cousins as part of my life.

Christian Faith

As a family, we didn’t attend a church congregation during my childhood, however, my mom made sure we got a regular diet of spiritual food on a daily time frame.

I remember memorizing the Ten Commandments at age 6. Our spiritual education consisted of reading the Bible and listening to radio speakers. I have fond memories of my Dad coming home from work at approximately 6:00 pm every day and being at home every night. He always asked for God’s blessing on our meals before we ate when he was home. Good memories for sure!

Looking back I realize that God was working with me as young as 5 years old and He is still my best friend! My parents set an example for us. We didn’t believe in baptism until a person was old enough to commit their life to Him, never looking back. A very serious commitment, not to be entered into lightly.

Of course, this required repentance and a commitment to follow the Lord to the best of my ability, although not perfectly! I was baptized when I was 22 years old and had the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit to help me in my walk with Jesus, as He promised us! And I haven’t looked back!

Not an Easy Life

Have I had an easy life? Anything but!!! But God is good and has led me gradually, spiritually to know Him in a way that would have otherwise been impossible! I am so very thankful for that now.

My Dad was a WW II veteran and received two purple hearts for head injuries in battle and this affected him in a very negative way mentally from that time on. And as he got older he suffered greatly from dementia/schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. for more than 20 years. He retired at age 62 but before that, I can’t recall him ever missing a day's work my entire life!

I was 18 when my oldest brother died from cancer at age 25. He was 8 years older than me and I thought he could do no wrong. I took his death pretty hard to say the least, as did my parents.

My Dad had his first mental breakdown at this time requiring some long hospital stays and pretty heavy medication. He was never the same after this nor was my Mom.

My Mom and I were always close in that we talked to each other a lot. This was the beginning of my education in mental illness. It was in the 70s and wasn’t a subject that was commonly understood or discussed. My Mom also had anxiety and after the loss of my brother and my Dad’s breakdown, it was almost more than she could bear!

This began my history of learning about mental illness and how devastating it can be on the family as well as the person suffering.

Suicide Survivor

This is a little about me before I suffered some major losses involving suicide beginning with:

  • my 22-year-old Son, Micah, in2003

  • Greg, my son-in-law, in 2013

  • Larry, my baby brother, in 2008

  • and last my oldest daughter, Misty in 2018!

Needless to say, mental illness and suicide have had a huge impact on my life! But the good news is Jesus My Lord and Savior has been with me through it all. I wouldn’t be here today telling about this if it wasn’t for Him. That’s a fact!!

From Suffering Comes Faith and Encouragement

Through the pain and suffering of these losses God never left me and I know now that He never will. I’ve learned how suffering is necessary and helpful in coming to know Jesus personally. It has made me want to obey and serve Him above all people and things.

Remember I didn’t say it was easy but it’s taught me things I couldn’t have known any other way. Praise God !!

I would like to encourage everyone to turn to the Lord with all their heart and cry out for wisdom and understanding as we are told in Proverbs 2:1-12, 3:19, and 4:5-7. That is the foundation for all Christianity for without it we can have empathy and love for each other. In order to understand mental illness and suicide, it takes God’s Spirit in us to help us day by day. Faith isn’t possible without understanding. Help can’t come to those suffering without understanding and compassion!

God is good all the time!!!

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a Missile Launch Officer with I.C.B.M's during the Cold War (1980's). Today, I'm an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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