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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. AvdBerg

    Churches, Churches and more Churches! Just check your yellow pages. What does the Bible teach us about the word “Church” and which one is the true church (the Body of
    Christ)? And if people in the Delta are looking for a church, which one do they join, especially if the Bible teaches that “The most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48; 17:24)?

    Confused? For a better understanding what it means to be a member of a local church and what spirit it serves (Luke 9:55) we invite you to read the articles “Church and what it means”, and “Can Christianity or any other religion save you?”.

    There are many other items on the Current Events page and a number of other articles on our website that address the subject issue and explain the Mystery of God.

    All of the other pages and articles on the website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    Seek, and ye will find (Matthew 7:7).

    July 22, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • .....

      TROLL, TROLL, TROLL, CULT, CULT, CULT

      July 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  2. Anna

    I'm agnostic, but this definitely brought a tear to my eye. I've heard about him, and that his last church people ignored him and thought he was a "retard". I might not go to church or believe in what a lot of churches preach, but in the long run the community is really the important thing, and this is great to see

    July 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Ally

      I completely agree! I think the main focus of this article is the acceptance and unity of the community. Snaps to them for being an incredibly open support system for everyone involved.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  3. TRINITY HOUSE OR PRAYER MINISTER OF MUSIC

    HELLO, I AM THE KEYBOARD PLAYER FOR LUCAS' CHURCH. I ENCOUNTERED SOME MEAN THINGS SAID WHILE SCROLLING THROUGH THE COMMENTS POSTED ON THIS LINK. HOWEVER, I CAN SAY ONE THING. WE TRINITARIANS BELIEVE IN THE HOPE OF JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD OUR FATHER, AS WELL AS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST, WITH EVIDENCE OF SPEAKING IN UNKNOWN TONGUES AS THE SPIRIT GIVES UTTERANCE. WE MAY NOT HAVE A MILLION DOLLAR MINISTRY, BUT THE ANOINTING THAT WE POSSES IS INDEED PRICELESS AND PRECIOUS. ONE DAY, I BELIEVE THAT LUCAS WILL WALK AND TALK AND BE COMPLETELY HEALED FROM ALL OF HIS INFIRMITIES. WE DON'T GIVE MUMBO JUMBO IN OUR SERVICES. WE DON'T GIVE EXEGETICAL EXPLICATIONS OF THEORETICAL THESES. WE SIMPLY FOLLOW THE WORD OF THE LIVING GOD, WHETHER WE ADDRESS HIM AS ALLAH, ABBA, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM ISSAC AND JACOB, JEHOVAH, YAHWEH, ALMIGHTY, FATHER, OR SIMPLY GOD! WE WELCOME REASONING FROM OTHER BELIEF SYSTEMS BECAUSE WE DO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT NO MAN KNOWS ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT GOD. HOWEVER, WE DO KNOW THAT JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN, AND NO MAN CAN COME TO GOD EXCEPT HE COMES THROUGH JESUS FIRST, AND NO MAN CAN ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITHOUT THE SPIRIT OF GOD, ALSO REFERRED TO AS THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HOLY GHOST. LUCAS IS ONE OF MY MOST LIVELY CHOIR MEMBERS, AND WHEN I AM DOWN AND WEARY, I REMEMBER LUCAS, AND I STATE PHILIPPIANS 4:13 "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH" LOVE YOU ALL WITH THE LOVE OF CHRIST JESUS, OUR LORD AND SAVIOR!

    July 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • HEY!

      Hey, typing in all caps is considered yelling on the internet.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • frank

      STOP SHOUTING AT US

      July 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • TRINITY HOUSE OR PRAYER MINISTER OF MUSIC

      Well, in that case, PRAISE THE LORD!

      July 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • frank

      I suddenly have a craving for catfish with hot sauce.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  4. Robin C

    I think that it is wonderful that Lucas found a church home that accepts him. Today most churches have a problem with accepting “minor” differences among themselves. This piece really touched my heart because the as Christians we are told “let EVERYTHNG” that have breath praise the lord”, and Lucas is holding up to his end of that. WONDERFUL!!!! This is a real eye opener. So many Christians…or people in general don’t offer true praise to GOD or even have nice words to say to others. We are lazy and content in almost everything we do. We have activity of out limb and we can speak clearly, but we don’t always use them for good. God Bless Lucas

    July 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • TRINITY HOUSE OR PRAYER MINISTER OF MUSIC

      AMEN ROBIN! THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE SANCTUARY IS DEAD OR NON-RESPONSIVE, AND THEN LUCAS COMES AND SCREAMS AND YELLS AND SHOUTS, AND WE ALL DRAW FROM HIS SPIRITUAL ENERGY! LET EVERYTHING THAT HATH BREATH PRAISE THE LORD! (AS I SAY) LET THE COWS MOO IT, LET THE PIGS OINK IT, LET THE DOGS BARK IT, LET THE TREES SWAYS IT, LET THE CHICKENS CLUCK IT, LET THE BIRDS CHIRPS IT, LET THE CATS MEOW IT, AND LET THE PEOPLE SHOUT IT: THE PRAISES OF OUR GOD! LOVE YOU DEAR! THANKS FOR HAVING A SOUND SPIRITUAL MIND!

      July 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • HEY!

      Take off the cap lock key idiot you are yelling!

      July 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  5. Pirate

    Ritual human sacrifice in the bible: "At that time the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and led an army against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, "If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

    "So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave him victory. He thoroughly defeated the Ammonites from Aroer to an area near Minnith – twenty towns – and as far away as Abel-keramim. Thus Israel subdued the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter – his only child – ran out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. "My daughter!" he cried out. "My heart is breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and cannot take it back." And she said, "Father, you have made a promise to the LORD. You must do to me what you have promised, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin." "You may go," Jephthah said. And he let her go away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept his vow, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah's daughter." (Judges 11:29-40 NLT)

    July 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  6. Pirate

    Then, with Micah's idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked and killed all the people and burned the town to the ground. There was no one to rescue the residents of the town, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob.Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there. They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel's son, but it had originally been called Laish. (Judges 18:27-29 NLT) (Note that God approves of this slaughter in verse 6.)

    July 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  7. Pirate

    The bible is probably one of the most powerful arguments we atheists have lol! -- more – I can't believe there are still so many bible thumpers out there, well, ok, I do – I doubt many of them have read all of it, and if they did, they did not understand much! (Moses) stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, "All of you who are on the LORD's side, come over here and join me." And all the Levites came. He told them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Strap on your swords! Go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other, killing even your brothers, friends, and neighbors." The Levites obeyed Moses, and about three thousand people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, "Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Because of this, he will now give you a great blessing." (Exodus 32:26-29 NLT)

    July 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  8. maude

    By the year 2020 25% of the US population will bowing towards Mecca. Christians have come to realize that God=Allah. Allah is lord. The all mighty was the holi ghost that pregnated Mary, mother of Christ. When Christ was born, Mother Mary
    made sure that Jesus came to this world through her womb and faced Mecca as he came out of the viginal cavity. Mecca is the true house of god (kabba). Jesus was bowing towards the Kabba ( the house of his father). Allah blessed thee. Forgive those who tresspass against us. Give us our daily flat bread. Ameen

    July 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  9. Richard S Kaiser

    Rhonda writes; “The beauty in Lucas' story is lost on many of the cynics who are regulars to this blog. But those of us who have found a church family where we are accepted, cared for and invited to share our gifts just nod our heads in understanding. I recognize that there are 'church stories' where God is not honored and people are abused, but that is not the norm. Wherever there are people there will be imperfection, even tragedy at times. But for the most part churches are places of healing and joy.”
    July 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    It is So Very True that all Of Christ’s Brides, (Christian Churches) Lament Courageously in the Light of Altruisms’ Fallacies’ by Atheistic Truancies. We who are Devoted Christians; Be us of Manliness or even Womanhood, are Made Known by our Word Being in Manifestations that Declare Beyond Doubt that GOD is the Power and the Glory and in HIS Graces We do Live in Abundance with Meekness and in the Fullness of Time Will We See.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Rhonda

      Huh?

      July 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  10. why cnn

    Why was this article. "White Man found his Black Daddy? under section live, and then you go to the article and it really says Finding God in the Mississippi Delta. I do not get it. Does everything have to be about black and white, yellow, brown?

    No it does not, please stop with the race card articles, and comments all over. Im getting tired of it. And I believe GOD is to. He's neither black nor white or what color.

    July 21, 2011 at 5:41 am |
    • Vumba

      To pull people into the story. Besides race and the Washington, what two things bring people in more than that? Race baiting in a milder form. But if writers touch on race it's all wrong but CNN knows how to keep a string along, you go CNN!

      July 21, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Pirate

      Just like the invisible pink unicorn?

      July 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  11. SoundOfForest

    Christianity alone creates immotal value in the midst of the worst human suffering, human fraility and human infirmity.

    July 21, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • think for yourself

      Replace "immotal" with "immoral" and you would be right.
      Have fun worshipping an invisible sky man that wants to burn 4.8 billion non christians for all eternity. Sounds like a loving "god" indeed.

      July 21, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • SoundOfForest

      @Think-, It's "immortal." Not that many people have died without Christ yet. As long as you are alive, you have a chance to repent and get saved. Hell is a justice, a fair punishment. You'll be one evil, pitiful loser at this rate. Jesus loves you. Give up your evil.

      July 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  12. justathought

    God has allowed many hooks for those who wish to dsbelieve to hang their disbelief on. On the other hand He has given plenty of evidence for the faith of those who chose to believe. The author of Hebrews said, "Faith is the subsance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb 11:1. In other words we are to have faith in that which can not be sceen. No man has seen God, but by faith we believe in Him. No man has seen Heaven, but by faith we believe it to be. The evidence we have is how God has worked in our lives and the lives of others. Nobody has seen electric, but everybody believes in it because of the evidence. Those without God have not seen this evidence because there is none to seen, because God is not in their lives. And because God is not in their lives this is all foolishness to them.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Q

      "Nobody has seen electric, but everybody believes in it because of the evidence." What? You mean you've never seen lightning?

      July 21, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Pirate

      Belief in faith alone is a crazy sloppy way to run a universe when given a book (the bible) jam packed with contradictions! Why not simply be good to other people without any fear of any hell, without any belief in an invisible man in the sky? Sounds to me that the atheists who live decent lives are more worthy of respect than a believer who is decent because of a fear of an invisible man in the sky!

      July 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Pirate

      God is tired and rests
      Ex 31:17
      God is never tired and never rests
      Is 40:28
      -
      God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
      Prov 15:3/ Ps 139:7-10/ Job 34:22,21
      God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all
      things
      Gen 11:5/ Gen 18:20,21/ Gen 3:8
      --
      God is unchangeable
      James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
      God is changeable
      Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
      Ex 33:1,3,17,14
      ---
      God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
      Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19
      God is kind, merciful, and good
      James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/
      1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8
      --
      God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices ,and holy days
      Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9
      God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices, and holy days.
      Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12
      ----
      God accepts human sacrifices
      2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39
      God forbids human sacrifice
      Deut 12:30,31
      -–
      Killing commanded
      Ex 32:27
      Killing forbidden
      Ex 20:13
      --
      the list is endless!

      July 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    I was driving to work the other day and I noticed a sign by a church parking lot. It read: "Handicap Parking"

    Hmm... Anyone else find this funny?

    Cheers!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      NO

      July 21, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • dar

      NO

      July 21, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  14. Rhonda

    The beauty in Lucas' story is lost on many of the cynics who are regulars to this blog. But those of us who have found a church family where we are accepted, cared for and invited to share our gifts just nod our heads in understanding. I recognize that there are 'church stories' where God is not honored and people are abused, but that is not the norm. Wherever there are people there will be imperfection, even tragedy at times. But for the most part churches are places of healing and joy.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • fred

      Thank you Rhonda ! A breath of fresh air

      July 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Rhonda

      Humans love to belong. Lucas would probably be happy if he joined the Elks or the Masons.

      Cheers!

      July 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Rhonda

      @David Johnson
      "humans love to belong..." Lucas' story – and the stories of millions of church members – flys in the face of the tiresome generalizations made by many of the atheists on this blog that all chuches are users. The fact is Lucas loves to belong with this church family because he is loved there.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Name*Mary

      So true. Same on You Tube. Someone could post the absolutely sweetest, most innocent thing and the comments would be so argumentative and cynical and profane. It is truly sad what has become of our society.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • LinCA

      @Rhonda and @Name*Mary

      Rhonda, when you said "The fact is Lucas loves to belong with this church family because he is loved there." in response to what David Johnson said "Humans love to belong. Lucas would probably be happy if he joined the Elks or the Masons." isn't that in essence the same thing?

      From the article it is clear that Lucas goes to this church for the people, the music and the theatrics, mostly the latter. This is clear from "The love Lucas felt most was for the music. He fit right in with the loud expressionism and theatrics, and adored the soulful singing." and "Despite the music and the love of Trinity’s congregants, he hasn’t quite made his peace with God.". It doesn't appear to be for the religious parts.

      I don't know if the Elks or Masons sing and dance, or do something similar (I doubt it), but if they do, Lucas would probably be happy there.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Rhonda,
      I think LinCA is on the right track. The main attraction appears to be the people and the atmosphere, although I'm not sure the Elks or Masons could replace this church for Lucas. You said yourself that, "the fact is Lucas loves to belong with this church family because he is loved there," not because he finds God there, but he finds people who accept him.

      July 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Robin C

      "@ Nonimus
      I think LinCA is on the right track. The main attraction appears to be the people and the atmosphere,
      although I'm not sure the Elks or Masons could replace this church for Lucas. You said yourself that, "the fact is
      Lucas loves to belong with this church family because he is loved there," not because he finds God there, but
      he finds people who accept him.

      That is God. His love dwells within HIS people. Our GOD is just that awesome that it's just that SIMPLE. *smiles*

      July 21, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Huh

      "That is God. His love dwells within HIS people. Our GOD is just that awesome that it's just that SIMPLE"

      It's not god it's the chemistry in your brain making you feel good about yourself, love is an emotion that stimulates the brain. It's why it's all in your head and not in your heart. It's why when people are in a mob and the mob goes crazy people do things they normally wouldn't do because they are caught up in the moment. It's easy to do but it takes courage to know who you are and believe in yourself to not fall victim to the mob mentality.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  15. Sara

    It is so sad that nobody seems to really understand this story. As someone who knows Lucas personally and works with people with disabilities everyday, it's a story about a disabled person finding a place where is accepted. Just like the last line of the article says, "he is seen for more than a boy in a wheelchair." I have heard countless stories of aggrevation, pain, and sadness from all the people I know who are trapped inside a body that won't move or talk like everyone elses. Most of the stories I hear don't end like Lucas' story, most never find a place to just be who they are. So, I find Lucas' story, one of hope. It makes me happy knowing he has a place where he feels accepted and free to be himself. That's what this story is about.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • frank

      I'm glad he's happy but I would have liked the story a lot more if they had more about the catfish. The catfish should have been the focus of the story, imo.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Sara

      Wouldn't it be a happier story, if god healed Lucas? Maybe for Christmas?

      Cheers!

      July 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  16. Pirate

    More from the Tanakh: -– If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

    July 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  17. Pirate

    Your god approves of slavery? LOL! You believers have no clue about the god you believe in! - However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    July 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • fred

      ok, so 4,000 years ago a society recorded its civil code with regard to slavery and 200 years ago Americal had its civil code on slavery. Your point is what – relationships change over time?. Yes they do and the bible is a story of the relationship between a people and their God who has set out to redeem a people for himself.
      If you don't like the story get another book it is obviously not for you or your people. Some burned he bible and went the book of Marx. Have you found yours yet or are you going to write your own

      July 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @fred

      You missed Pirate's point.

      Christians claim their god is all good. How can an all good god allow slavery? Even Jesus never said, "You can't own each other."

      Your god, personally or at his insistence, murdered men, women and children including babies. He once allowed a man's children to be killed, to win a bet. A bet! God doesn't seem to respect human life very much. LOL

      Your god is vile.

      Cheers!

      Your god is vile.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • fred

      David Johnson,
      I did not miss the point I simply cleared up that the culture of society as changed as to slavery and back then people lived a different life. God actually, put laws in place to protect slaves. Regarding the bet it was the answer to the question why does a good God allow bad things to happen to good people – you missed that as you were looking only for something wrong with God or the Bible. The Bible is written such that you always find what you are really looking for. Looking for Gods love you will find it, looking for a mean God that is no more than an imaginary fairy tale for weak minded hypocrites you will find it. Sometimes the Bible is just a mirror that reflects back to the reader their true condition.

      July 21, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • It God's great grampa god

      fred
      "ok, so 4,000 years ago a society recorded its civil code with regard to slavery and 200 years ago Americal had its civil code on slavery. Your point is what – relationships change over time?. Yes they do and the bible is a story of the relationship between a people and their God who has set out to redeem a people for himself."
      --------------------------------------------------
      You are doing EXACTLY what you are criticizing. Aren't you the guys who use the 4,000 year old values to condemn gays? You're on a slippery slope there.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:04 am |
    • Nonimus

      @fred,
      So does God condone owning another human being or not?

      July 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • fred

      It God's great grampa god
      Pirate was hitting on slavery and somehow you shot off onto gays are slaves? You are correct ! They are just as much slaves to sin as the rest of us are. Ho mo $exuality (whatever your interpretation of that is) is not the only sin in the world. The question is who or what is your master. If you are your own master then you are full of yourself. If Jesus is your master you would charish the opportunity to have your ear pierced with an awl and server Him forever and ever.

      July 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • fred

      It God's great grampa god
      OH, you know what I should have simply selected a verse from Scripture instead of going on and on. Jesus said "man cannot have two masters for he will cling to one and hate the other". Ouch Ouch Ouch ! Check out this web site and see the hate steaming all about against God, Christians and the Bible. Look in the mirror and let me know who or what is your master if the Bible, God or Christians (those actually practicing what Jesus laid out) seem to rub you the wrong way

      July 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus,
      Does God ok owning another human being? Yes he does !
      But, take note how wonderful and kind the Master is. So, let me clarify: Jesus redeemed all sinners on the cross, He was the price (30 pieces of silver) for our lives and now death has no sting for those who were redeemed by Christ.
      We and our bodies are to be slaves to Christ

      July 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Pirate

      fred, Ignorance is bliss: When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

      July 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • fred

      Pirate,
      You are still in Exodus about 1440 BC where a clan is working out the first batch of civil law. This progression of a peoples chosen by God takes you to 28 AD where Jesus says love your neighbor as yourself. Now, setting bible quotes aside consider your ancestors may have hit women over the head with a club out of love but today that is assault with a deadly weapon.

      July 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • God

      fred, God here. appreciate your twisting and turning for me in all those posts, but I really am a jerk. And kill that cow of yours and burn it for me, will you, like my book says. I like the smell of burning flesh. Do it, or you'll be the fuel source.

      July 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • fred

      OMG is that you ! See that will prove to those on this site that you are not just a fairy tale and a voice in my head

      July 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  18. Mark

    I’m glad John and Lucas have met up. It’s a shame it had to be in a house of delusion, aka, church. The religious will talk about their loving deity, while he sits with folded arms, and does nothing to help Lucas with his cerebral palsy. As an atheist, if I had the power to cure Lucas’s cerebral palsy, I would in an instant, cause I feel for this guy. I can imagine his pain and frustration. This is just more evidence that the Christian deity is anything but loving, and instead a fiction of the mind.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • fred

      Well you should be a God with all your knowledge and ability. Let's see no pain, no suffering, everyone is beautiful, no moral boundries ect. etc... Oh wait a minute there is another God over there that someone else designed or thinks he is. Wait a minute I am an atheist can't be a God so call me it.
      So it you have created the perfect world according to Mark. Does this world have one head creator or are we all little it's

      July 20, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark

      Would you hold a puppy, that had peed on the floor over a burner, even for a second?

      The Christian god would burn humans for all eternity. Is this right? Is this not evil?

      The Christian god is vile.

      Cheers!

      July 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • fred

      David Johnson,
      God does not hold puppies to the flame. Now as to burining for eternity this has many takes. The Bible is clear that satin and his demonds will be tossed in the lake of the fire. As to those of us that just pee on the carpet God is just. The general pattern I see is that we make our own hell with the exception of satin whos eternity is set. Now for those who reject God the minimum consequence is eternity without God. This is what was demanded my men who reject God. Now I cannot imagine eternity without God..........what would go on in such a place? God restrains evil in our time and over the history of his people so we really have no clue. You may think you do but you have never lived in a world where men are without restraints.

      July 21, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Pirate

      I am glad there are intelligent, educated people like fred here, and yes, the fabric satin should spend all eternity in hell with the demonds! As for puppies, I think they might fall under this very nice bible quote! -- This is what the Lord of hosts has to say: 'I will punish what Amalek did to Israel when he barred his way as he was coming up from Egypt. Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.' (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB) ---- Ok, no puppies but god tells them to kill children and infants... . Isn't he nice and just?

      July 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  19. Carlito Swagger

    I am shocked to see people posting ignorant comments on this article. Anyone who still denies God after watching this video is foolish!

    July 20, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Nookster

      I may be foolish but I would never take an innocent child and impregnate their mind with religous fanaticism from childbirth. Anyone who would indoctrinate a child into a christian, muslim or any other religious cult is a criminal and a child abuser.

      July 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  20. T

    Some people are raised to be obedient and to worship their masters. The masters could be their parents, grandparents, boss, preacher, teacher, sargent, president, king, general, warlord, land owner, etc etc..

    Being a good servant has always been looked on positively in a group or society that uses this to it's advantage. However, in this day and age if you don't need to be a servant, why not shake off the shackles? Do you really feel more safe and secure submitting to a make believe "master", opposed to pulling up your bootstraps and taking on self responsibility for your life. Stop letting others be responsible for what happens to you and take control of your own life. Be moral because it is the right thing to do, not because you are afraid you will be punished if you are bad. If the only reason you are being good today, is because you would be punished by your god if you were not, you are pathetic.

    People are born and die everyday. Millions of people each day. People die from all sorts of things and are born to all sorts of people. There is nothing you or I can do to control anything. Life is happening with or without you. To think you can some how ask for a wish and change the outcome of a specific time and place of this life, is small thinking and delusional. Why don't you just ask for everyday to be your birthday and that you really have always wanted a pony.

    Another thing, you would think if a person believed they had the ability to converse and talk to a personal interactive god, this would be a good thing and that they would be happy. But no, they can not be happy unless you believe it too....

    July 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Wow

      I take responsibility for my own life and I am responsible for what happens in my life. We can also be happy if you don't believe in God. It is a choice you are making. Not me.

      July 20, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
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About this blog

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.