|JEFFERSON CITY – Evangelist David Ring has overcome cerebral palsy to have a dynamic evangelistic ministry. He recently reflected on his 30 years of ministry while preaching Aug. 8 at Concord Baptist Church here. Pathway photo by Bob Baysinger|
A mighty God raises up a powerful voice
Despite cerebral palsy, David Ring takes the Gospel to the world
By Bob Baysinger
August 17, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Several Missouri Baptist pastors told David Ring 30 years ago that he would never “make it” in evangelism. A victim of cerebral palsy, Ring walks with a limp and speaks with a slur.
God obviously had other ideas.
Ring is now one of the most sought-after speakers in the nation, preaching in churches and filling other inspirational speaking engagements. He records about 200 speaking engagements annually with an audience in excess of 100,000.
He has appeared on nationally televised programs such as Jerry Falwell’s “Old Time Gospel Hour” and “The Hour of Power.” His most recent national audience was a two-day appearance on James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” radio program, telling his story to an audience of about 20 million people.
Ring recently returned to Central Missouri where some Missouri Baptist churches gave Ring an opportunity to launch his ministry 30 years ago.
“Some pastors right here in this state told me I would never make it,” Ring said in a interview with The Pathway. “When they told me that, it made my faith stronger. I put more faith in God.”
Born in Jonesboro, Ark., with cerebral palsy, Ring was orphaned in the Kansas City area at the age of 14 when cancer took his mother’s life. With the help of other family members, Ring was able to finish high school and enroll at William Jewell College.
Ring doesn’t mention his alma mater during his presentations.
“All I can say about William Jewell is that I’m glad that the Lord Jesus got me before William Jewell got me,” Ring said. “And you can quote me on that!”
Ring thought it was God’s will for him to also go to seminary, but he was rejected by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because of the cerebral palsy.
“Because of my handicap, they turned me down at Southwestern,” Ring said. “I took that as an indication from God that He wanted me to launch my ministry. I told God that everybody was telling me ‘no’ but I feel like He was telling me ‘yes.’ I told Him that I was available to do whatever He wanted me to do. I think it is obvious that God wanted me to have my own ministry.”
Three Missouri Baptist evangelists played a key role in helping Ring get started.
Clyde Chiles was teaming with Jim McNiel in the early 1970s. The pair was scheduled to do an eight-day revival at Liberty Manor Baptist Church at Liberty. They met Ring during the revival and asked him to give his testimony on youth nights at future revival services.
Ring was with Chiles at a Springfield revival, where he met Hubert Conway, the Lawrence County director of missions, and also a full-time evangelist. Conway heard Ring’s testimony and invited him to participate in his evangelistic campaigns. That invitation resulted in Ring moving into the Conway home where he lived for the next three years.
“My first date was the Missouri Baptist Pastor’s Conference in 1975 in Cape Girardeau,” Ring recalled. “I got more bookings that day than I knew what to do with. In 1978, I spoke at the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference in Atlanta. That opened the door for me nationwide.
“Dr. (Jerry) Falwell put me on the “Old Time Gospel Hour” in 1998, and that launched me everywhere.”
Ring said his life was hopeless until his relationship with Jesus Christ began. The relationship with Christ, he said, taught him self-respect and an acceptance of his physical challenges.
Although some Missouri Baptist pastors discouraged Ring, he found one member of a Missouri Baptist church who accepted his physical challenges and provided encouragement. During an appearance at First Baptist Church, St. Charles, Ring was introduced to a young lady in the church.
After dating for more than two years, David and Dawn were married and are now the parents of four children.
“It’s amazing how many people discouraged me in my early days,” Ring said, “but God has given me a family and is using me all over the country. I am so thankful for that.”