by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) — "I thank God for cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is not a curse, it's a blessing," Evangelist David Ring said during Truett-McConnell College's Nov. 3 chapel service.
Preaching from Revelation 12:11, Ring said believers can overcome life's difficulties by the "blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony."
Of his lifetime illness Ring said, "I am blessed -- that's the story."
Stillborn at birth, Ring lie dead for 18 minutes after he was born. "I'm not supposed to be here today," he said. "I'm supposed to be a complete vegetable."
Ring was an infant when his father died. Left with only his mother to care for him, Ring, the youngest of eight children, became "a mama's boy."
"My mama did everything for me," said Ring, who faced another tragedy when he was 15 and his mother grew deathly ill.
"God, please don't take my mama. My mama is the only thing I've got," Ring said, recounting his incessant prayer.
Tragically, she died.
Following his mother's death, Ring said that he "attempted suicide every other day for two years." Despite these attempts, Ring lived and credits God for keeping him alive again because "it's not over till God says it's over," he said.
One of Ring's sisters refused to forsake him, and encouraged Ring to attend school and church. In addition to hating school, he hated church with equal zeal.
"I didn't want to go to church because God don't love me. God don't even like me," Ring said.
Unable to trust anyone due to the loss of his mother, Ring said he felt confused and abandoned because God had disappointed him. Nonetheless, he attended church and discovered that God loved him and had a plan for him.
"I found out that David is not okay, but that's okay, God loves David just the way David is," said Ring, who committed his life to Christ that day.
"I still have cerebral palsy, but thank God cerebral palsy doesn't have me," Ring said.
Ring's assurance in Christ "changed his attitude," he said. This change in attitude allowed Ring to be the water boy for his school's football team and boosted his involvement in school activities.
"I found out that I could never be a quarterback, but I could help somebody to be the best quarterback," Ring said.
Ring challenged the Truett-McConnell audience that it was time to "get off the stands and get on the playing field. It's time to get off your blessed assurance. It's time to get the chip off your shoulder. It's time to quit feeling sorry for yourself."
"They told me I would never be a preacher, but I am," Ring said, recounting the numerous times he walked the church aisle at invitation time and sought counsel from his pastor when God called Ring to preach.
Ring approached his pastor twice, and twice the pastor told Ring the call was "a figment" of his imagination. On a Wednesday night, Ring approached his pastor a third time. "He said, 'David, I told you once, I told you twice, now I'm telling you for the third time, and the last time, God did not call you to preach. God will never call you to preach. God can't use anybody like you in the pulpit. Go back and sit down and don't come again,'" Ring recalled.
Ring returned the next Sunday morning and assured the pastor he would "choke on every negative word," and Ring would indeed be a preacher.
"I have spoken in over 6,000 churches -- with a speech impediment," Ring said, adding that God uses "broken things, and I guarantee you if we make ourselves available, there is no telling what God will do in our lives."
Ring recounted the negativity he faced from those who deemed he would never ride a bicycle, finish college, or find a wife. Married for more than 30 years, Ring has four children.
"Every time I look at my family, all I can say is to God be the glory and great is thy faithfulness, all I ever needed, He has provided," Ring said.
Ring encouraged the audience to "never give up," and to remember, "It's not how many times you've been knocked down; it's how many times you get back up."
"I thank God everyday for the death of my mama because if my mama did not die, my children wouldn't be born." Ring said. "If my mama did not die, I would never have found a wife. If my mama did not die, I would never be a preacher of the Gospel. I would be living in Jonesborough, Arkansas, pulling on mama's apron strings -- a 58-year-old crippled baby boy."
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.
For booking information, contact Reach Out and Touch Ministries at www.davidring.org