Summer Conventions '97
A childhood of ostracism, tears and shame strengthened David Ring and gave him a life.
"What's your complaint with God?" Ring asked about 10,000 Southern Baptists during the June 17 opening session of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Ring's emotional description of how Christ enabled him to overcome the limitations of cerebral palsy had some SBC messengers weeping, then cheering, then rising to their feet for a standing ovation as he concluded.
Leaning forward to understand his often-tortured syntax, Ring exhorted Christians to quit complaining and get to work in furthering the kingdom of God.
"They gave me 18 minutes to talk. I don't know about that. It takes me longer than 18 minutes to say my name," Ring said as listeners responded with laughter.
Ring, the youngest child of a large family, recalled how he was mostly ignored by all but one of his siblings, was often humiliated at school and only had his parents to support him.
But when he was 11, Ring's father died of liver cancer. A few years later, in 1968, his mother went into the hospital for an operation on her neck. Doctors discovered during the operation she also had cancer. She returned home, dying a few months later at the hospital.
"I thought God had given up on me. He gave me cerebral palsy. He took away my daddy when I was little. He took away my mother, my only friend in the whole world I had. God must have hated me. I was worthless.
"Why did he give me this disease. Why did he take away my parents? Why? Why? Why? I gave up on life. I didn't care any more."
Ring said one of his sisters encouraged him, eventually becoming as close a confidant as his mother. On April 17, 1970, at 8:45 p.m., Ring said he fell to his knees and asked God to come into his life and give him a reason to go on living.
Ring recalled he wasn't ready for God's response. Jesus Christ soon after made it clear he wanted Ring to preach.
"There I was, lying in my bed, minding my own business, and Christ says to me: ‘Preach.'
"I said to the Lord: ‘Preach? Lord, I cannot preach. I have cerebral palsy!' Can you imagine me telling God I had cerebral palsy? I've got a funny felling he said, ‘Really? You've got to be kidding,'" Ring said.
"Now, I am a full-time evangelist. I preach about 200 times a year. If God can use me, he can use anyone!
"I have cerebral palsy. What's your problem?"