Monday, February 15, 2010

The Talking Wheelchair Ramp

Over the years, organized religion hasn’t always gotten the best rap. In fact, if you were to think for about thirty seconds, you would probably be able to list at least ten negative news stories you’ve heard having to do with a preacher, a denomination, a church, a Sunday school teacher, or a TV evangelist.

I know all the stories; in fact, I probably know more about the ins and outs of church life than most people do. You see, not too many days after my boisterous arrival into this world, I was taken to church. I snoozed on the front pew. I hung out in the church nursery. I toddled along church aisles. I made friends with other church kids. I sat entranced in front of a flannel graph and learned about Noah and the ark. I was an angel in the church Christmas program.

I learned the delicate art of cutting a tough piece of ham at church dinners using nothing but a flimsy plastic fork. I learned to play hymns on the piano long before I learned to play anything else.

And as a lifelong, card-carrying member of the Pastor’s Daughter/Pastor’s Wife Society, I’ve even cleaned a few churches in my life. More than once.

In short, I’ve seen the inside and outside of church life; I’ve seen its upsides and its downsides. In fact, I might even consider myself to be something of a Church Culture Pro. (For whatever that’s worth.)

And because I love the church, and because I love the faithful and flawed people who make up the church, it always makes me sad when the latest church scandal is being bandied about on CNN. It makes me sad when just a handful of mistake-making church folks get all the press. All the camera coverage. All the newsprint. All the publicity.

But you know what? I don’t believe I recall seeing any CNN camera crews show up in Manteo two weeks ago when a local wheelchair ramp preached a quiet but poignant sermon. And since the camera crews were not in evidence, I decided to drive over to the site and cover the story myself. Because I think it’s about time that a church event that shows the goodness of peoples’ hearts (instead of the ugliness) receives a bit of press.

And so from my small corner of the world, I now present to you the Talking Wheelchair Ramp.

Its story is simply this:

Inside this house, live a woman and her husband. The woman is a traveling nurse for the country and one day, in the course of her work, she tripped down some steps and broke not one, but both of her feet.

She was taken to the hospital. She had casts put on her feet. She was taken home.

This lady and her husband didn’t have a wheelchair to get her through five weeks of immobility. And even if they somehow did manage to obtain a wheelchair, they would still have no way of getting it in and out of the house. There didn’t seem to be a solution that wasn’t going to cost them a large amount of money. And the fact of the matter is that they just weren’t certain what they were going to do.

But then, a few things started to happen.

On the day after the accident, a person from their church called and said he was bringing over a wheelchair.

A couple more days later, some men from that same church showed up—unasked and uninvited—and started building a wheelchair ramp.

People from the church starting showing up with meals. And offers of practical help.

And suddenly, several neighbors, who didn’t have a habit of going to church, starting asking the couple what was going on at their house.

The couple said, “Well, this is just all the stuff our church is doing to take care of us.”

Those neighbors ended up seeing a sermon right outside their windows. They saw that more often than not, the church does get it right. They heard the message of the wheelchair ramp and because of that message, they may have made a few opinion adjustments about the money grubbing preachers and unethical churches that they had seen splashed across their TV screens.

It doesn’t matter that the people who extended these kindnesses attend our church. It only matters that they were reflecting the character of the One whose name they carry.

Because “Christian” basically means, Little Christ.

And I like to think that if Jesus had been visiting Manteo this past month, he would have been happy to see people from the church still preaching His message—a powerful message without words.

And even though CNN didn’t show up?

The message is still being heard.

16 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

lesley said...

Woohoo!!! Take that CNN. Nice to hear the positives for a change. You are so right :)

Carrie B said...


Lisa from Georgia said...

"Preach the Gospel everywhere...when necessary use words."
St Francis of Assisi
And Amen!!

Lisa said...

My goodness I'm such a crybaby lately! :O) What a beautiful story and what a sermon!!

You know Becky, I'm learning more and more about Jesus and His people and I've never had more peace in my life. And I grew up in the church, too, but never really knew Him until about 3 years ago. :O)

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

Jessica Kramasz said...


brooke said...


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Becky, as the friend of a single mom who has had to fight for, then find a way to pay for the things her severely physically challenged daughter needs, it is indeed refreshing to hear about your wheelchair ramp sermon. More people should pay attention to that sermon, open their eyes and help others . . . whether they are members of the same church, or just members of the community that could use a little help!

MaryH said...

The actions of good people will always speak louder than the foul media hype. Thank you so much for a wonderful story. God bless all who made this message possible.

Anonymous said...

Becky, I loved this story. It sounds like one from our own church. A man in our church fell from a tree stand and was in really bad shape and when he got to come home after several months, men in our church built him a ramp and women in the church took them meals. I agree, the media likes to show just the bad stuff about church and Christianity but the world needs to know that they are not all bad. Thank you for bringing this to their attention.
God bless you and Steve and your family.
Kaye Joyce
Mount Airy, NC

Marysienka said...

I don't go to church, but I really enjoyed your story and I think it was worth sharing! So yes, take that, CNN!


Sue G said...

Oooooo, Becky, my kind of post! Thanks for getting the word out about this lovely gesture.

Religion HAS gotten a bad rap over the years. But the news stories usually cover a "fallen" paster, not a fallen church.

Because WE ARE the church. The building is just a building. WE are the church, and it is our example that that most likely brings people into the building.

And I am very confident that Jesus was in fact there to witness this church in action. And I can just picture him saying, "Good job, my faithful servants."

Shelley Williams said...

Fabulous!! Thank you so much for sharing that story. Well written!!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Connie F-G

Anonymous said...

I, too, say thanks for sharing the wheelchair ramp story!
Three years ago our church went from an "attractional" church to a "missional" church....(after much prayer, etc)...I'm sure you know the difference, being married to a pastor....Less PROGRAMS inside the building...more MINISTRY OUTSIDE those doors....YOURS is a great example of what we are trying to accomplish...we were a church of 700; we lost over half of our folks..not a split...just people not happy with the changes...but we honestly feel like what we are doing is what GOD wants us to do. As it turned out...we aren't that much different! We have always been a giving church....ANYHOO, that went longer than I meant to...My motto, LOVE JESUS, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS! And it sounds like your church is doing just that!

Anonymous said...

Too bad the news doesn't report stories like yours. Seems like churches just get the bad rap. I attend a small church that does more than most big churches in the form of giving.

It is sad that people now days only want to go to church when it fits their needs...and they want to come out feeling good...they don't want to hear what they Bible has to say. We live in a mixed up world.

Keep up the good work.

Cindy Wright

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