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July 20th, 2011
06:20 AM ET

Finding God in the Mississippi Delta

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Moorhead, Mississippi (CNN) - The Mississippi Delta is the kind of place where everyone shows up for a funeral.

It was on such a day in 1997 that Lucas McCarty and his grandfather had come to pay their respects to a young man who'd been killed in a car crash.

John Woods was there to bury his son.

Lucas and John had met a handful of times before, but that's the day John found his new son and Lucas his "black daddy" – each one delivered in his own way from a tragic past.

John worked for Lucas’ grandfather on his catfish farm as an “oxygen man." Catfish are fickle creatures, and if they don’t have enough oxygen, the whole lot of them can go belly up in minutes.

He’d gotten the job a decade earlier after getting out of jail. John had killed his brother-in-law on a lonely Delta road, according to T.R. Pearson's “Year of Our Lord,” which tells about John and Lucas. John had been indicted and tried for first-degree murder, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. He was then indicted and tried for first-degree manslaughter - and this time the jury found him not guilty. He was a free man.

At about the time John was starting a new life, Lucas’ life was almost ending before it could even begin.

Elizabeth Lear McCarty’s heart sank when her son was born, the familiar cry of a baby’s entrance into the world replaced by phrases like “no heartbeat” and “no spontaneous respiration.”

Elizabeth says a botched delivery deprived her son of oxygen at birth, damaging his brain.

He was born “gray and dead,” she says.

There would be unanswered questions and a lawsuit, and pretty soon it would become clear that Lucas would never be like other kids.

Lucas has cerebral palsy, a condition suffered when a baby's brain is deprived of oxygen, usually at birth. The condition began to show its devastating effects more and more as he matured.

He never learned to walk, read or write. Even eating was a challenge. It looked like Lucas was destined to spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, dependent on others for his most basic needs.

Though he has never spoken a word in his life, at age 5 he found a way to say anything he needed to. It would take him years to master it, but the machine he shied away from at first, slowly became his link to his family and the world.

Based on Mayan hieroglyphs, Minspeak allows Lucas to create full sentences by pushing a series of pictures.

If he wants to say the word food, he pushes the picture of an apple. If he wants to say eat, he pushes the picture of an apple followed by the picture of a man running, called the “action man.” If he just wants to say apple, he pushes apple twice.

It can get fairly complex to an outsider. A hamburger, for example, is apple + scale + treasure chest. Somehow, this all makes sense if you’ve never learned to read or write with words.

Lucas grew up going to an Episcopal church, but his mom says he never liked it all that much. He was antsy and easily irritated, and sitting quietly for hours not only was difficult, but practically ran counter to his genetic predisposition.

“His sister kept his hands down the whole time he was at our church,” Elizabeth says.

‘My calling is singing the gospel’

At the funeral for his son, John Woods was touched by the presence of Lucas and his grandfather, James Lear.

“I looked around the church and Mr. Lear was there. Lucas was there. That’s to show you an old black man like me has some dear, sweet white friends,” John says.

Afterward, John began coming to the McCarty house to sing gospel songs with Lucas.

“He really couldn't do much else,” John says. “We would sing songs like ‘God’s Got It All In Control’ ” - no doubt a message that, at the time, offered equal comfort to both of them.

John asked Elizabeth if he could take Lucas to Easter service at Trinity House of Prayer, where he was the music director. John had been saved at Trinity, and he hoped Lucas could be too.

At that first service, John carried Lucas, and because of John’s position as music director, they sat in the deacon’s box, a spot reserved for congregational royalty.

“The Trinity House of Prayer congregation are such a loving environment of peoples,” John says. “A man can be a sinner, a whiner, (but) when they bring him into Trinity House of Prayer he will feel nothing but pure and genuine love.”

The love Lucas felt most was for the music. He fit right in with the loud expressionism and theatrics, and adored the soulful singing. Trinity changed his image of church.

“Shouting, dancing, falling out and speaking in tongues is real church,” Lucas says through his device.

Trinity House of Prayer is known for its choir. Tucked deep into the fertile soil and God-fearing air of the Mississippi Delta, the church is nestled on a flat, barren landscape, one of hundreds in a region where faith is the answer to poverty and hardship.

The chapel isn’t much to look at - an old gray building surrounded by a graveyard of dilapidated vehicles and rusted-out farm equipment. On the inside, windows are covered in a clear red film, a cheap alternative to stained glass. And on a sunny day, the faded carpet and beautiful wood pews light up with a glow that can feel transcendent.

Most notably, Trinity’s congregation is all black – with one exception. Every Sunday for the past 15 years, Lucas has shown up, sometimes carried, sometimes crawling, but always ready to put his “foot on the devil’s head.”

It’s a bit of a peculiar sight, a white man in a black church, on his knees, wailing indecipherably, but passionately into the microphone in the corner of the choir stand. He knows every word, he just can’t say them, but that sure doesn’t stop him from finding his voice.

“My calling is singing the gospel,” he says.

A warm, cleansing oil

Four months before Lucas was born, John Woods prayed for the first time for as long as he could remember.

The hard crack of the pistol, pulled from his waistband and fired without aim on that balmy Father's Day in 1987, rang through his head over and over.

John didn’t know if the man he had shot was dead, but he knew he was in trouble. He and his wife, Mary Frances, cried together until a squad car pulled into his driveway and took John away in handcuffs.

According to John, he heard his sister's husband had beaten her with a pipe, and John wanted to get even. He tracked the man down at a diner to give him a piece of his mind, the gun in his waistband providing punctuation for each cautionary sentence.

But according to John’s description in Pearson's "Year of our Lord," his brother-in-law didn’t take too kindly to the threat. He chased John down a road and pulled out a .25 automatic. He got off two shots before the gun jammed, and before John knew it, he’d shot back.

John wouldn’t find out for sure until he was in his cell that the man was dead, but he had felt the life leave his brother-in-law the second he shot him.

It was in the Sunflower County Jail where John found God. As he sat there in a cold cell, a cellmate told him to turn his life over to the Lord.

John’s life had been far from charmed. Plagued by drugs and alcohol, he now found himself sharing a fate suffered by all too many poor black men in the Delta. But on one of those sleepless nights, John prayed, and that’s when he says he felt it.

“It was like a warm oil being poured down from the top of my head, running slowly down my body, and every place it touched it was cleansing me.”

It was when John got out of jail that he says “old Jimmy Lear” took a chance on him, made him his "oxygen man," always telling John not to worry and “keep moving.”

John would drive around to each pond and put a long stick into the water and check the oxygen levels. The job required him to check the oxygen nearly every hour around the clock, so sleeping was in short spurts spread throughout the day and night.

It was during one of these naps 15 years ago that John had a strange dream. In the dream, Tony, the oldest of his four sons, had crashed his truck, and John was consoling him. John awoke to the phone ringing. It was his wife Mary Frances. Tony had fallen asleep at the wheel coming home from work at 4 a.m.

“God called him home.”

Crawling into the choir stand

Despite being told he’d never be able to walk, Lucas has found his own way, slipping out of his wheelchair and onto the floor at Trinity House of Prayer, where he shuffles around on thick knee pads as if in a state of constant reverence.

Drawn to the music, it was only a matter of time before Lucas crawled up into the choir stand. Not only was Lucas the only white member of the church - and definitely the only member with cerebral palsy - until last year he was also the only man in the all women’s choir. A young man has since joined him.

Trinity’s pastor, Willie B. Knighten, tried to heal Lucas at one of his first services. Lucas says it was the only time he felt uncomfortable at the church.

“I only felt funny when the preacher laid hands on me the first time,” he remembers.

It’s the soft spot within many people that makes them wish Lucas normal, but the hand of God hasn’t taken away his condition.

Still, to nearly everyone who attends Trinity, it’s a small miracle each time Lucas crawls into the choir stand on his own every week to sing. In a small way, he has been healed.

Lucas is a lot like any 25-year-old single man. He likes cars, he loves surfing the web, and the No. 1 thing on his mind at any given time is women. He wants a girlfriend - specifically one, he says, who is “an outgoing sweetheart, who does not smoke, has never had children but wants (them) and is a Republican.”

Lucas’ access to the outside world is a bit limited. Because of his handicap, going anywhere can be an ordeal. He refuses to use a power chair, instead relying on the push of a friend, relative or stranger.

A few days each week, Lucas works at his father’s restaurant in nearby Indianola washing dishes and cleaning. When Lucas was 6 years old, his parents got divorced. It’s no secret that the difficulties of raising an impaired child strained the marriage.

The job gets him out of the house he shares with his mother, something that’s important for a young man whose body is disabled but whose ambition knows no limits. Lucas wants to start his own cleaning company, and during the announcements following a recent service at Trinity House of Prayer, Lucas asks for the microphone, holds it up to his machine and slowly types out the message that if anyone is looking for work, he’s hiring.

Church is the one time a week Lucas knows he can get out of the house, and at Trinity House of Prayer people won’t look away when he comes down the aisle.

“Lucas would be at church every time the door opened if he could,” his mother says. “But we just usually go take him on Sunday. And that's the most important part of the week for Lucas … getting to church on Sunday.”

Lucas has found other ways to connect. He has an e-mail address and a Facebook account, but for years his favorite hobby has been jumping on the CB radio he keeps in the family room. Most of the truckers know him by now. His handle is “Teddy Bear,” and he starts each interaction the same way: “Is there a pot of coffee on?”

John Woods, now Bishop John Woods, has moved on from Trinity to be the associate pastor of a church down the road. He and Lucas still get together, singing their favorite gospel songs just as they did 15 years ago. Lucas’ favorites are “I’ll Fly Away” and “I’ve Got To Run.” Between songs they talk about life and the Lord.

When John asks Lucas if he’s been saved, he shrugs. Despite the music and the love of Trinity’s congregants, he hasn’t quite made his peace with God. It’s a familiar struggle for many, but when you draw a hand like Lucas’, making sense of it all can be even more challenging.

Lucas may still be on a search for God, but the boy who was born without a breath has found his “oxygen man” - and John has found the son he lost.

When they speak of God, John tells Lucas, “Don’t worry, you’ll find him one day.” But Lucas seems content to find his solace “in the music,” and he’s happy as long as he can convince folks of one thing: “I want people to know I am more than a boy in a wheelchair.”

Editor's Note: Nashville band Sleeping Bulls provided the song “Jean Baptiste” from their upcoming album “The Least Banquets” for the video.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Faith & Health • Mississippi

soundoff (1,300 Responses)
  1. Joran Sutt

    Was this article written by a 12 year old ESL student? It certainly reads that way...

    July 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Be nice and say it's kinda enthusiastic.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  2. I believe

    I would rather live my life believing there is a God. And then finding out there is not. Then to live my life believing there is no God and finding out that there is.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Isocrates

      Exactly, which is why in addition to the Christian God, you should also worship Allah, Yahweh, Shiva, Thor, and Zeus. Just to be certain.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  3. Mikep

    So you concede that the reason you believe in what you believe is based on "feeling better?" I can relate to that, but that doesn't make it true. And your first paragraph is concerning because some people do not believe, not because it is their right, but because of the unfortunate reality that God (assuming he does exist) did not leave a single shred of empirical, tangible, and observable evidence to justify his existence-and many people require this to take any thing seriously. I'm sure you can understand because everybody requires this when it's a different subject. For example, if I were to boast about having a white duck that floats three feet above my head you would probably look at me in confusion. You would induct what you know about ducks, gravity, physics, humans, the imagination, etc, and probably conclude that I have something wrong with me. It's seems that it's only when the existence of God comes about do we completely ignore out ability to discern between the tangible and the transcendent. This I find to be most interesting.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Wow!

      It has to do with faith. Which isn't tangible and understandably confusing to some. It's also not the easy way out as many non believers think. It's not easy being made fun of by non believers, but I am at a stage in my life where it doesn't matter to me what other people think. There are Christians that will hammer on non believers, I don't think that is productive or respectful. That is why I believe God, gave us a choice.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • pazyfe

      you are too busy looking at the natural, God is loving, he allows you to wake up and see a new day, to see a beautiful sky, and you look down on Him and try to give credit to man man cannot create such an infinite sky or beautiful Sun, or form the bones of a child in momma's womb.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Heaven sent us all manner of disabilities and horrible genetic disorders,disfigurements and dysfunctions and diseases, plus natural disasters such as tsunamis and tornadoes, all without regard to whether the victims were innocent.

      Wow, what an absolute fscking as-shole god must be. Well, I suppose he can't exist, not at least as a personal loving ent-ity.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  4. Delta Girl

    The negative comments are outrageous. This is a wonderful story about a handicapped man trying to find a sense of belonging in a cruel, judgmental world. Hats off to CNN!

    July 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  5. Isocrates

    If you need a higher being to persuade you to be a good person, you probably need to see a therapist.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  6. Tracy

    I think it's a great story, and it's worth tellng. I don't agree with CNN on much, especially Anderson Cooper (don't like his show anymore, he's moved to far to the right for me), but I do like this story.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  7. kynsynna

    This story is truly ridiculous.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • pazyfe

      you know what is sad about your comment, that you live in a fairy tale, look around you, open your eyes,there are so many people in this world that refuse to lay down and play pity party, they persevere, they survive and love life no matter what. And you who possibly may have been blessed with health look down on us, I say us because I have a son with Down Syndrome he is 24 years old and my life is a blessing, my son has a loving heart, we serve the Lord in spirit and in truth and so many lives have been blessed and touched, people see the strength that he has and that strength can only be obtained through Gods grace and mercy. So please open your eyes and see that there are so many different people around you, don't close your heart, open it just as Jesus did, His love is infinite!

      July 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      pazyfe

      Your a trip. You are in a cult with ritualized cannibalisim, zombies, and bronze age woman who had children without men, that is led bye priests who bugger little boys, and you say someone ELSE is in a fairy tale?

      Get a grip, your indoctrination is showing.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Wow!

      William, ritualized cannibalism? Where do you find that one?

      July 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Wow!

      zombies? Sorry, I should have added that to my last post.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  8. tbrnotb

    You Christians live your lives praying to a false god who never seems to solve your problems. How foolish you are...I imagine you all still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Oh....and your arrogance as you try to push false profits down poor and ignorant people's throat. Shame on you all.....but you'll find out when your life ends. There are no pearly gates. Death is something so incomprehensible that 2,000 years this replaced the Greek and Roamn gods to make people feel that there was meaning to their miserable existance. Carpe diem! Sieze the day because there ain't no afterlife as you envision it to be!

    July 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • smitty77

      good comment!!

      July 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Freddy

      It's spelled R-O-M-A-N. Idiot.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Eric in StL

      Believe what you want to believe and, in the end, you will know the truth of God.
      I forgive you and I love you.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • jbsac

      If there is no afterlife as you say, how will anyone find out when they die?

      July 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Wow!

      It seems to me that God has solved alot of my problems. I know that I will get comments on this, but I don't care.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Wow!

      How exactly did god solve your problems? I do not accept by the way that he gave you "a sign" or your prayers were answered because he gave you some intangible like courage or love.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • fred

      laughing,
      Hey, in the past your carried a banner for God and that made the enemy faint. The power of God real or illusionary in a man creates greater strength and endurance.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Wow!

      Laughing, I am an alcoholic and have been drinking for 30 years. I have been sober for almost 5 years and my faith had everything to do with it. I have special needs children and I view them as the most beautiful kids on the planet, and they are. This is due to my faith. If I didn't have faith in God, I wouldn't be able to make sense of my situation and probably wouldn't have quit drinking without killing someone on a highway. That's just two. There are many more.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Wow!
      Ok, congraulations on beating alcoholism and also loving your children. Really. Why attribute that to god though? Were you not the one to quit drinking, does the love for your children come from god and does that mean that you can't love your children without god? I'm sorry, but both things you've said your attributing to something that you yourself did, so why give that accomplishment away? I love my family, friends, dog, heck even my computer and I don't need something or someone to tell me how to, or give me the power to. You (or I imagine someone close to you) identified that your drinking was a problem, so the only thing that's stopping you from drinking is what exactly? The existance of god? Is he physiically holding you back? Are you afraid of the consequences in your afterlife if you continue drinking? Like I said, congrats on overcoming your adversities, but it's a load of bull to say that it was religion that did it for you. It was you USING religion as a conduit for rehabilitation, but make no mistake, you did it, not god.

      @fred – What an incredibly useless comment, thank you for adding absolutely nothing to the thread.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Wow

      Laughing,
      I thought twice about talking about my life in this forum for obvious reasons. I know this won't make sense to anybody but me, but I know it was God that led me to being sober. It's a long story..... And as far as my children are concerned, it's not the love that I am talking about. I should have clarified that. I am sure that non believers love their children also, or at least I hope they do. I am taliking about the joy that I find in my children. I believe that God gave me these children for a reason. I don't want to get into this any further in this forum for obvious reasons, but all I can say is that without my belief in God, that my situation would seem far less joyous.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Wow!

      I understand your hesistancy so won't ask you to delve in any further, however I refuse to believe that it is god supplying you with this love and strength nor do I believe that without it you wouldn't have been able to do the things you've done. Why can't you take credit for your accomplishments? That's something I have never understood about believers in all walks of life (except for buddhists I guess). Whenver they do something wrong it's their fault and they hope god forgives them, however when they do something right it was really god who did it. Be proud of your accomplishments, your children and stop giving the idea of a god all the credit, it's like flipping a switch in a room and thanking the lamp for lighting up your house, you paid for the lamp, electricity, the house and you flipped the switch, at no point did that lamp achieve anything.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Wow

      Laughing, I know I did and do all those things. Quitting drinking wasn't easy. I believe my faith in God has helped and made these things possible. I know that there are non believers that can accomplish the same things I have, and do daily. I am proud of all alcoholics that quit drinking. In my case, I know God was at work in my situation. It's abundantly clear to me. I know that won't make sense to most non believers, but it makes sense to me.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Santa is like training wheels for Christians. Remember when you were little, and you believed in Santa? He brought you presents, and everyone told you solemnly he was real, but later on you found out it was really Mom and Dad? Honey, better sit down while we tell you about Jesus . . .

      July 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Laughing

      Clearly you see only what you want to see. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy Wow, you want to see god and all of a sudden hes there, and there and everywhere. I promise you atheists have the capability to understand belief and the thought that goes with believers. Seriously though, the abundantly clear evidence that you have..... apart from god actually speaking to you, showing himself to you or some other shi*t it seems like you're just confirming something you want to believe in because that way you can find absolution in your previous 30 years of alcoholism. If it makes you feel better, great, by all means keep believing. One thing I can assure you though, it was possible for you to quit with or without god just as it's possible for you to get joy from your children.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  9. Paul

    What a touching story. This unfortunate boy has found happinesss in such an unlikely place. A true testiment to the goodness in people. I dont pray enough but I will try my best to remember Lucas and John next time I do.

    As for all the anti-religion, negative people posting here, I can not believe the lack compassion for their fellow human beings. If you disagree with, or are against religion, move on, dont bust on this poor man's one source of happiness. What did that do for you? Why pick on a handicapped person? Really sad place weve found ourselves in.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      It's only sad because religious delusionists believe that, if you don't believe, you are less of a person than them and condemned to hell. Their delusional system elevates them above everyone else, enabling them to be obnoxious, loud mouth fools without seeing that they are acting that way. It's a self-serving, positive feedback loop that is hard to decouple.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Wow!

      WhatWhat...., True Christians don't believe you are less of a person than them. True Christians believe that we are all sinners and can't help ourselves. They also believe that we have a choice to believe or to not believe. They also believe that it's not for us to judge, but that God will take care of that. I am sorry that you think that Christians are judgemental. I know there are Christians out there that can come across that way, but I don't think that is the way Our Lord wants us to act.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      There you go, calling people names again. I'm not a "sinner", I don't even know what that means. And here you go assuming that I'm one of them, and that I have no control of myself. How dare you! I don't know what you think "sinner" means, but I've never been one in my entire life, thank the stars.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Wow!

      Whatwhat...., Have you ever told a lie? I am sorry, I am using sinner as in the context of what the Bible teaches. Lying, cheating, stealing, bribery, murder, etc. I am assuming that you have done something in that list at one point in your life? I should have defined sinner better. I know it's a Christian term. Sorry for causing confusion.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      If I've done any of those things you listed, it would have been for a good cause, and the right thing to do at the time. Like when I was in N@zi Germany with my family during WWII. I had to bribe a government official to get my family out alive. And then I had to kill his bodyguard because he was going to turn us in. I lied many times during that trip to freedom, and stole what food and clothing we could to stay alive. I can honestly say that I never cheated anyone during that time though, and I feel good about that.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Wow

      Whatwhat...., I can't imagine what you have been through! I really can't imagine! What you are talking about, I don't think God would call sin. I don't know for sure obviously, but you had to do what you had to do. Please realize that I don't believe that all non believers live to do what the Bible calls sin. You sound like a very good person. I am trying not to quote the Bible in my posts since when talking to non believers that is fruitless. I will say there are passages in the Bible that describe sin. All people are prone to some type of sin. We can't help it. I believe we live in a fallen world. I have made a choice to believe what the Bible says. I don't think less of you since you don't believe. Trust me, my past is littered with sin and I struggle daily with sin.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "Lying, cheating, stealing, bribery, murder, etc. I am assuming that you have done something in that list at one point in your life?" You assume wrong; we're not all lying, cheating, bribing murderers like you apparently are. I've never murdered anyone, tell us how it feels? Were you convicted? Was your victim a baby, and you lied about it and bribed people? Wait, you were in the news recently, weren't you?
      You sound really insane, and I hope you can stop killing, lying and bribing before it's too late, Casey.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Wow

      BC, It's good to know you live a perfect life and do absolutely nothing wrong. I was defining sin. I am not saying that since I am a Christian that I do all those things. That's idiotic and twisting of my words. I didn't say all people do those things. Please read the whole comment. I said "you have done one of those things sometime in your life". Relax,

      July 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  10. William Demuth

    I wonder if their preacher has buggered this guy, or of he is waiting for Christmas Eve?

    July 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      LOL...LOL some more.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • pazyfe

      you know what is sad about your comment, that you live in a fairy tale, look around you, open your eyes,there are so many people in this world that refuse to lay down and play pity party, they persevere, they survive and love life no matter what. And you who possibly may have been blessed with health look down on us, I say us because I have a son with Down Syndrome he is 24 years old and my life is a blessing, my son has a loving heart, we serve the Lord in spirit and in truth and so many lives have been blessed and touched, people see the strength that he has and that strength can only be obtained through Gods grace and mercy. So please open your eyes and see that there are so many different people around you, don't close your heart, open it just as Jesus did, His love is infinite!

      July 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • William Demuth

      pazyfe

      Hey look, the can teach a Christian to cut and paste!

      Next thing you know they will be walking on water.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Too harsh, man. If you start thinking every Christian is evil, you end up being like that weirdo above you says everyone lies, cheats and murders unless they Biblethump. These seem to be decent people who actually like Lucas. Not everyone has an agenda.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Wow

      Once again BC, quit twisting my words. That is not at all what I said. But feel free to bash away. I don't want to wreck your day. Also, how can someone be evil? Does evil exist? Why would it?

      July 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  11. MuDdLe

    Generally, I tend to avoid fundamentalists–both religious and irreligious. I see, however, that the latter lurk here.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  12. notofthisworld

    If you are right and they are wrong, what have they lost? If they are right and you are wrong, what will you lose?

    July 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Rob

      you are missing a crucial aspect to that philosophical argument.....what if there is a god that hates it when people pray to him...it is complete assumption that this "god" wants you to live for him instead of for yourself....ultimately, the math works out in favor of not praying to god....

      July 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Who's Right or who's wrong or which loses or is "lost" are questions best left up to Individualisms for the sake of one's own lukewarm Sanity to remain for the most part Hot or Cold in matters of Atheism vs Deism, but as someone once wrote, "There are Gods and Goddesses and even little gods and goddesses but who is this GOD?

      July 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  13. Sy2502

    Could believers out there please explain to me how you can worship a god that gave this young man cerebral palsy? A god that being omnipotent could heal him in an instant, but instead chooses to let him suffer? How can you even stand a god like that? Most human beings I know are better people than your god.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Former Atheist Jeremy Fritz

      listen dude or dudette, but that kid may have physical challenges in his life, but God made every white, black, mexican, asian, korean, etc, all equal. and for your "information" God loves us no matter what disability we may have, but that is what you call in God's eyes, talents. learn to give a person with disability some credit, just because they are handicapped, thank you. God bless you. and i am praying for you to turn to God.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • xXRationalXx

      God's loving for him isn't making his dealing with cerebral palsey any better IMO

      July 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • tmichelle72

      I think your confusion and frustration comes from not understanding the bible, or God. Disease came into the world with the fall of Satan from heaven. God did not create disease. Satan loves when people are deceived into believing that God (who in His essence is what we call Love) could ever hurt one of us. Think if it this way. Are you a parent? A parent in their right mind would never hurt their child, right? In fact they would die for them before they allow them to be hurt. We have to learn to love we are not the very essence of love. So imagine what the being (GOD) who created all of us feels when we hurt. Its indescribable. He loves us so much that He came here and died for us (like the good parent that He is) to reverse the curse mankind brought upon himself. Read the bible. You sound intelligent and intelligent people do ALL the research before they come to a conclusion. And above all, if you have any questions about someone you ask them directly, right? He's just waiting for you to talk to Him.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      Yours is the typical opinion and assumption non-believers make.

      People of all faiths have to grapple with the question of why the world isn’t the way we want it to be. There are for things to keep in mind about how Christianity deals with this question:

      1. God does not make evil happen.
      2. God allows humans to choose wrongly in order to allow us to choose love.
      3. Belief in evil presupposes God’s existence.
      4. We do not know all God’s reasons for allowing some things.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bruce

      I don't think anyone who is a believer worships "a god that gave this young man cerebral palsy," nor do they worship a "god that being omnipotent could heal him in an instant, but instead chooses to let him suffer."

      If you read the article, you will find out that it was a doctor who botched Lucas' delivery, not God, that caused Lucas' CP. Also, while there are stories of God healing people in scripture, there is a reason given for the "miracles" that Jesus and others performed–and the reasons have nothing to do with ending suffering. The reasons are quite interesting, actually, and most Christians don't even appreciate those reasons (because they don't bother to read their own scripture with any diligence).

      If you read the article, you will find a group of people who love each other and make all of their lives better through this love. After the doctor (SCIENCE!) botched the delivery and set up Lucas' suffering, it is this group of people in the church that make his life better than it would be were they not as loving as they apparently are. What is worshiped, what is celebated, is this love.

      It's not about some abstract concept of some hypothetical Epicurean tri-omni garbage god who withholds healing for some strange reason. It's about the very real experience of love one can have when they go to places like this church.

      In other words, read the article. Stop forcing your Epicurean questions on the situation and actually learn what it is these people have to teach you.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Fidei Coticula Crux

      Now you try to teach?

      You are clueless. Read more and preach less

      Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
      Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
      Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
      Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

      July 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Nympha

      William,
      It appears that you have set up the rules and morality that God (or any God, for that matter) should follow. God, being God, cannot be understood 100 %. However, since you dictate His actions and tell Him how everything should be, maybe the term should be revised. If He can't follow your logic, then He doesn't exist? Your pride is tripping you.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • KR

      He knows in whom he believes and he is at peace. God bless him in his walk with our Lord and Savior.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Ryan

      Jeremy Fritz-

      a god loves us? He told you recently? Can we move past this dark ages magic people? Please?

      July 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      GOD, kind Sy; "Is no respecter of people" and in saying this GOD does not Play Favorites.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Hank

      A fair question, if the premise is that everyone deserves a good life that’s free from pain, sadness, disease, and paying bills. But friend, as I know you’re aware, life sometimes sucks, and though it’s convenient and seemingly logical even, to pin it on an all-powerful God that’s supposed to be in control of this out-of-control world we live in: a closer, honest look at the human condition would reveal that clearly, we are a miserable lot. And that we're much more responsible for things around us than we tend to admit.

      We lie, cheat, steal, shove, exploit, and this, not some cosmic being who invents heinous crimes that destroy lives and debilitating diseases that leaves bodies broken and twisted, is the reason for suffering in the world. I believe that's a fact.

      Take God out of the equation and what do you have: exactly what we have today. Now put God back in the equation, and what we have is not a Superman flying around in the sky pulling people out of burning buildings, but rather, a Surgeon, who patiently and tenderly works on the hard, stony heart of man, one person at a time. He operates in midst of suffering, right in the middle of a cancer, or loss of employment, to liberate the person from the tyranny of the Almighty Self. He rescues people from a unimaginably terrifying fate, but we sit here and ask why he doesn’t rescue us from our bad marriage or addiction or crippling disease that prevents us from enjoying a Sunday afternoon without physical discomfort. He comprehends and cares for our human condition more than you and I combined – his actions bear testimony to this.

      I’ve written a lot already, and I don’t know if you wish to continue this conversation. If you do, your reply is always welcome at my email address: worldfamousrockstar@gmail.com. Please pay no heed to the login name; just something I made up on the fly. Thanks for reading.

      -Hank

      July 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  14. Baal

    we are all a waste of time, yet it is funny that you would feel sorry for something thats not worth pity. let the poor misguilded fools have there god. it makes them feel better just like it makes you feel better to rub yourself in peanut butter and dance in your grandmothers panties. our time is a waste, its just a ride.....enjoy the ride and let them enjoy there's. peace out dinggleberry.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  15. email

    the fact that they have to make it a big deal that he's a black church shows that this country hasn't evolved at all in the last 40-50 years. do the story on everything else besides him being in a black church. why does race have to be so core to a story to make it important?

    July 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Rob

      white or black, they all look equally re-tarded

      July 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  16. GnomicGarthe

    No more or less than you when you realize you haven't. And it's "souls" not "soles", a misspelling that says a lot about you.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  17. JESUSISTHEROCK

    It's truely a blessing when you can here the goodness of Jesus working miracles in others life...to anyone that think that there is no God and we serve an imaginary person...I pray for you because there is a heaven and there is a hell...choose this day rather not who you will service jesus or yourself..there is nothing in self, put selfishness, the pride of life...Lucas all i can say is continue to let God use you and show others with Gods Grace & His Mercy....all things are possible and it's a foolish man or woman to think that there is no God....judgement will take place rather we want to hear it or not....God bless the hears and the doers of his word...He do rain on the just and the unjust he loves each and everyone of us..

    July 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Former Atheist Jeremy Fritz

      God bless you. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:11 (KJV)

      July 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Mikep

      How do you know that Christianity is the correct and true religion? If you dismiss the other religions than you know how it feels to be an atheist.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Baal

      What kind of God gives a three year old cancer, or lets 20,000 men women and children starve to death every day? What kind of god is incapable of forgiveness to the point that his son must suffer and die for our worthless tails for him to accept us? What kind of God? You as a christan can't even atone for not keeping the Sabbath day (Saturday not Sunday) or the creation of your engraven images (Crosses on every church and every pulpit). The longer you live the more you see you will come to understand that we made the whole thing up. Social aristocrats from the dawn of all civilizations has sought to control the masses and impose there will without effort and force. There answer was the establishment of religion. (Done by man not God) Over the centuries it has fractionized and evolved to what is today. Look back and you will see how foolish we really all are. If God is aware and has the power to intervene yet dose nothing he himself is complacent of his own creation.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  18. J-Ex

    I'd rather live a life full of hope, love & faith and find out there's no God at the end, then to live a life with no hope that there's anything past my time here and find out I was wrong in the end.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  19. Formal Atheist Jeremy Fritz

    i used to be an atheist, but now i am a Christian-Baptist. and i am telling you right now every single atheist on this site, when you say there is no God? well, my Bible calls you type, FOOLS, There is a God, and how can i prove it? i may not been able to seen him personally, but i have had dreams of hell is going to be, for everyone who judges one another, or kills one another, to hating one another, will be acceptable to the judgment, by a true, and mighty God, whom judges the quick and the dead, at his coming. Believe this or not, if you all dont repent, Bible says, you will likewise perish. Oh, how sad it will be to see the lost unsaved people without Christ in their lives, be thrown into a lake of eternal fire, the flames will burn day and night, the will burneth FOREVER. God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for US. Romans 5:8.(KJV) lets stop the war, stop the killing, stop aborting our children, lets just make this country a country, it was supposed to be founded under, and that was under God, and president barack obama, has no room to say, this is no longer Christian nation. Hes FALSE! if our forefathers say this is a nation to be Under God, that means it is. learn believe it.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Bruce

      Jeremy, learn to read and to write. That was painful.

      And it's "former," not "formal."

      July 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • tbrnotb

      Joke's on you, pal. You should spend your time educating yourself instead of believeing in childish voodoo to make you feel better about death.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • email

      you do realize the bible was written by "other" men that weren't jesus right? and it's been edited and changed over the course of however many years it's been since jesus was around. as far as i'm concerned the republicans/democrats of jesus' time are the ones that wrote the bible so it's the most untrustworthy source for any type of faith in existence. i can't speak for the quran because i haven't read it, but i'd like to just to see what the real differences are besides white people call him god and muslims call him allah.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • saf65

      President Obama has never said that this is not a Christian nation. And he has declared his own Christian beliefs–and certainly demonstrates more christian reactions and responsives than just about any of those who talk like you do–pointing that finger of condemnation. You love to brag about your Christianity, but you embrace such outlandish criticisms that I find are the norm for outspoken "Christians". Let me ask you this: Why would you want to worship such a God who, in your statement, judges the "quick and the dead"–but wait a minute–you just said those who judge others (as if you do not do so) will be subject to hell fire. Quite a contradiction there–judging is wrong, but it is what your god does? What a god you worship–a very vindictive one that hates his own creation to the extent to require a blood sacrifice to somehow redeem them! Seems you have lost all ability to reason.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • email

      btw i was raised christian until i got wise around age 11 and i'm white.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • GodPot

      "i may not been able to seen him personally, but i have had dreams of hell is going to be"

      This is adorable. Proof of hell because he dreams about it. It must be whats keeping him up all night and unable to study grammar.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I once had a dream of crossing mountains that crashed into each other, great winds that sheared the flesh from bones, and a river of blood guarded by ravenous jaguars.
      For four years I travelled before coming upon a great, perpetually dark field of white flowers.
      It was then that the Lord Mictlantecutli revealed Himself to me and I changed my life, devoting myself entirely to the worship of the Aztec pantheon.
      But then I had a dream of a vast org.y with fountains of wine, mountains of food and willing women as far as the eye could see, so I became a devout disciple of Dionysus.
      To honour the principles of Democracy on which America is founded, we must get back to Bacchanalian roots!
      The president isn't a real democrat becuase he doesn't espouse drinking until you vomit while fornicating with multiple partners.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  20. laurie

    It shouldn't matter if you "believe" or not....what matters is that this person has found a place where he fits in, where he is accepted, where he feels comfortable....before you spout your criticisms, just remember....you wouldn't trade places with him for anything in the world..... so try just being happy for him....

    July 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • JESUSISTHEROCK

      laurie I'm a living testimony it do matter rather not you believe in Jesus or not...there is a message behind his testimony.....God is good for allowing him to come thru and over some major storms in his life...I just would not want someone to be happy for me but bless the Lord with me for what he's done...listen to this it's like if you ever had that grandmother that had a special dish..and in that special dish she had certain indgredients that was added to the dish..well when you went to back the same dish it did not taste the same same situation...just because we ought to be happy don't mean we really understand the testimony of his life because no you and me have not went throught that particular situation but we have experienced some situations that others said that we would not make it or was not going to come thru...But it was Gods grace and his mercy becuase he did not have to spare your life to make thru the situation would you want someone to take it likely...God bless you

      July 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.