Part of the Family
excerpt from The Boy Born Dead
In the spring of 1970, David Wideman was a teenager who had reluctantly befriended a boy from school. His mom invited the boy to a revival service at their church, but Wideman never expected that it would be the night his friend David Ring’s life would change forever.
He was not just crying. He was wailing, completely undone. Each guttural cry seemed to come in waves, as if they were layered deep in his soul, cries of anguish going back to the day he was born. And the people around him were pulling out wave after wave, until all was spent.
Then he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands and turned to look at me. It was a different Ring. His face may have been a mess, but his eyes showed me a whole new person. The angry fight had gone out of his eyes. When it was obvious he was finished praying and ready to stand, Dad and I helped him to his feet. Then the whole circle of people, who had stayed with him through tears and anguish for over an hour, broke out into applause. They had surrounded Ring in his moment of need and now they were surrounding him with their support for the future.
A few hours later I was sitting with Uncle Bill, Dad, and Ring at our house. It was one of the most surreal moments in my life. I knew it was the beginning of something different not just for Ring but for our family too. During that gathering he became a part of us forever.
Dad talked to him about what it meant to follow after Jesus. He told him that God would always hear his prayers, and that no matter what happened from that point forward, he should always run to Jesus in good times and bad. These were all things I had heard my dad preach or tell to other people a hundred times before, but that night they seemed to be even more alive and powerful than usual. They made sense to me—and I even found myself re-embracing them for myself in a way I never knew I could.
Dad looked at Ring and said, “Son, one more thing. I don’t know what’s going on at home or what all you are facing, but I know it’s pretty big stuff.”
Ring never broke eye contact with Dad. His face seemed to intensify with each word Dad spoke, but he did not lose his peaceful expression.
Dad continued. “Listen, what happened tonight does not mean you won’t face more horrible things in your future. Even tomorrow. You shouldn’t expect life to be a cakewalk all of a sudden.”
“Yes, suh,” Ring said respectfully.
Dad smiled, and then tears filled his eyes. “But from here on out, you do not have to face whatever you have faced alone. We will be there for you—like family. You never have to run away. You never have to give up hope. God loves you—and we love you too. Our house is now your house. Our table is your table. And it’s not going anywhere. Okay?”
One last tear—this time of joy—broke free from the corner of Ring’s eye. “Yes, suh. I unduhstand.”
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