David Ring: from victim to victor
by Sherrie Norris
It will also be one long remembered by those who attend.
Ring will deliver two messages at Brushy Fork on Sunday, April 6. He will be the guest speaker at the worship service at 10:45 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.
Ring's local appearance is something that church pastor, Toby Oliver has been hoping for -- and praying about -- for a long time.
It's also an opportunity that Oliver believes will have a lasting impact upon his church and community.
"I remember one day, while in my living room, hearing him on TV," Oliver said. "The Lord really spoke to me through David Ring's testimony. I'll never forget hearing him say, 'I've got cerebral palsy, what's your problem?' It just reminds us that we are all flesh. We've all got issues. David Ring has cerebral palsy, but he has chosen to be an overcomer. He is proof that whatever problems we might have, we can overcome it all with Christ, just like the Bible tells us."
Oliver said since accepting the role of pastor at Brushy Fork, he's often thought about the possibility of inviting Ring to visit.
"The Lord placed it on my heart in a special way last fall," Oliver said. "We started making connections and things began to happen. An international cancellation has made it possible for him to come to Boone."
For four decades, Ring has traveled around the world sharing what Oliver called "his dynamic testimony," but it hasn't come easily.
Ring shared how God saw "the big picture" saying, soon after his birth in 1953, "Despite me being dead for 18 minutes."
"They gave up on me, and my mom almost died. They decided to save mom and forget about the baby, but God had a different plan," Ring said.
If he had been born today under the same circumstances, Ring said, he would probably be OK.
"There is more technology today; a team of doctors and nurses would work on me, while another team would work on my mama," he said.
Eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy, resulting from complications at birth (in particular, the lack of oxygen for an extended period of time), Ring said he had to learn to live with the damage done to his developing brain.
From that traumatic beginning, Ring, a Jonesboro, Ark., native, was faced with one major obstacle after another.
His father died when he was 11, his mother's death, three years later, left him an orphan. He was moved from family to family, lacking a stable environment to call home.
Ring endured constant physical and emotional pain, which resulted from his obvious impairments and public ridicule.
His inability to move freely and to speak clearly did nothing to help him, he said.
His life was a nightmare, he said, as he felt hopeless, worthless and had nothing to live for. He was ready to give up.
The persistence of one of his sisters led him to church, where he eventually gave his life to the Lord.Although later he felt led by God to become a preacher, Ring was discouraged by many people; he wouldn't be understood, he was told.
Popular opinion did nothing to stop him, nor did even (medical) professionals who tried to discourage him about a lot of things along the way -- including marrying and having a family.
Ring credits such men as Jerry Falwell, John Hagee and James Dobson for giving him opportunities to bring his ministry to the limelight.
"I have been blessed by these three men, and by the media, for helping get my name got out there," he said. "Dr. Jerry Falwell put me on the map when I spoke for him in 1989 and after that, he kept me on TV for 18 years. I worked with John Hagee for 17 years in a row, and have been featured with James Dobson's Focus on the Family many times."
Ring said he has spoken in about 7,250 churches throughout America and in four foreign countries in the last 40 years.
"I receive at least one invitation each day to speak somewhere," he said. He tries to keep his engagements to about 180 each year.
He said he has a deep sense of loyalty to America and now limits his overseas appearances "to about every three or four years."
"I was born in America," Ring said, "and I feel that America needs a touch of God now, more than we ever have before."
He was scheduled to be in South Africa next week, but again, he said, God had other plans.
"I should've left the states on Tuesday, March 25, but that fell through, but that's OK. I need to focus on America. That's why I am able to give Brushy Fork all day on Sunday."
Ring said he remembered coming to Boone many years ago where he spoke at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. He recalled the hospitality of the church family and especially that of Richard Ratliff, church pastor at that time.
Ring looks forward to returning to the Boone area next week and to share his testimony of how God took him from victim to victor.
Ring admits that he might be hard to understand "at first," but those who have heard him know it's easy to be captured quickly by his wit and personality.
Ring said it his duty and honor to preach the word of God.
"It is no wonder we are going down in America," he said. "You hear all the time about the separation of church and state. You cannot separate them. Our country was founded on faith. If we live out our faith, especially in the workplace, we will change America."
Ring said there are too many spectators and not enough people doing their part.
"It's time to get out of the stands and do what God has given you to do," he said. "Until we do that, we will never get back to God. We will change America when we change the church and live out our faith on a daily basis."
He compels his listeners to take their eyes off their personal problems and challenges and to forge ahead victoriously.
Ring has said many times, "Life is not fair, but God is good."
On Wednesday, he added, "If God can use me, he can use anybody. Nobody has an excuse. I can prove that."
Ring is the author of "Just As I Am" (Moody Press, Chicago, Ill.), which tells about his heartaches and victories and addresses the central theme of his life: "Triumph Over Odds."
His newest book, "Ring," will be out in bookstores later this year.
Ring's ministry is based in Nashville, Tenn., where he makes his home with his wife, Karen. They have four children and three grandchildren.
On behalf of Brushy Fork Baptist Church, Oliver invites the community to join him for Ring's rare appearance in Watauga County. Early arrival is suggested and child care is provided.
The church is located at 3915 U.S. Hwy. 421 N. in Vilas, just west of Boone.
For more information, call the church office at (828) 297-2524 or visit http://www.brushyforkbaptist church.com.
To learn more about Ring, visit http://www.davidring.org.