CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) – "It's not my story," Tyler Cloud said. "I'm not here to glorify Tyler; that's not what I'm here for. I'm telling you this so that people will look at [my story] and say, 'Wow, God is powerful beyond comprehension.'"
Born clinically dead, Cloud was given little hope from the medical staff. "No part of me was actually formed the way it should have been. I was limp," Cloud said, recalling the story of his birth. His mother would not give up on him as doctors desperately tried to revive her lifeless child.
"Eventually I just started breathing out of nowhere. I have no doubt that it was the breath of God," the Truett-McConnell College student said.
Premature and severely infected, doctors advised Cloud's mother to celebrate his one-month birthday because they didn't expect him to live much longer. Cloud's mother made a sign to commemorate her son's first month of life. "I still have that sign she made me," Cloud said grinning.
Rebounding from his premature birth, the struggles continued. Still crawling at age two, Cloud's mother was concerned that her son had not yet learned to walk. Doctors soon diagnosed Cloud with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects motor skills. "I don't call it a condition because God made me this way," Cloud said.
Cloud underwent intense physical and occupational therapy. "I basically had to teach myself how to do everything at a later age," he said. Cloud used a walker until age five, when he could walk on his own.
"Through school I got all the questions: 'Why do you walk like that? Did you break your legs?'" As schoolmates began to understand Cloud's malady their questions ended.
Accepting Christ at age eight, Cloud attributes his conversion to "being raised by a long line of God-fearing and Christ believing people," he said. While in middle school he began centering his life on God's will.
High school gave Cloud a chance to share his faith with his fellow students. "I was basically the resident Jesus freak in the halls," he said.
Cloud's love of sports motivated him to become the manager of his high school football and baseball teams. "I would minister to those guys because they would look at me and say, 'Even though he can't get out here and put on the pads with us,' or 'Even though he can't play between the baseball lines with us, this kid has a passion for life and a desire to help and encourage people,'" Cloud recalled.
His optimistic spirit and love for God helped him impact the teams he managed. "Its not a hard pill to swallow, [not being able to play sports]. If you understand all things in life with a godly perspective [then] nothing is too hard. That's what I've learned. If God is at the center of your life, then everything else comes clearly to you."
Cloud seeks God's will and wants to impact the world for Christ. "I'm just going to do whatever God wants me to do," he said.
God led Cloud to Truett-McConnell College, said Cloud, who was looking for a school that would help him spiritually and academically. "Coming here has impacted me and shown me that the people here are truly after God's own heart. They don't look at me any differently because my right leg drags on the ground a little bit. They look at me as Tyler. That is the kind of place that I desired to go to school my whole life -- to be accepted for who I was, and I found that here. I found that place that feels like home."
Scott Sienkiewicz is a staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.