29 September, 2008

Paraplegic Frustrated over Inability to be Saved

FORT WORTH, TX - Nick Woodlawn was a proud atheist until four months ago when a close friend, who is a Christian, asked him to read Tim Keller's The Reason For God.  After reading the book, Woodlawn began to question  his own beliefs and assumptions about the meaninglessness of life, the relativism of morality, and the value of chasing after the pleasure of the moment.  

After a few weeks of pondering whether or not God exists, Woodlawn decided to "try out church."  He decided to attend one Sunday with his friend at Corinth Baptist Church just outside Fort Worth.  Since Woodlawn had very low expectations, he was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the people, the quality of the music, and the power of the preaching.  Woodlawn later told TBNN, "Pastor Frank Volk preaches through scripture verse-by-verse.  That really spoke to me because I could tell that he didn't have an agenda.  He just tells it like it is."

Woodlawn was also pleased by the sensitivity of Corinth Baptist.  They have installed a wheelchair ramp at the entrance to church facility.  Since Woodlawn is a paraplegic, the ramp helped a great deal.

After about two months of attending church with his friend, Woodlawn was seriously considering giving his life over to God.  By that time, he had heard Pastor Volk explain the need to repent and believe in order to be saved.  On this particular Sunday, Woodlawn was ready to surrender.  After a powerful sermon on Romans 10:9-10, Woodlawn wanted to finally become a follower of Jesus Christ.

That's when the unthinkable happened.  Pastor Volk concluded the sermon by saying, "If you want to know Jesus, just walk the aisle.  If you want to finally give your life over to Christ, simply walk down here and see me.  If you finally want to stop running from God, then just run up here.  If you want peace and the promise of everlasting life, simply step out of your seat and walk right here."

Woodlawn was simultaneously stunned, offended, saddened, and outraged.  Sitting toward the back of the church in his wheelchair, Woodlawn stayed where he was.  How could he possibly "walk the aisle" when he couldn't walk at all?

These days Woodlawn hardly sees his friend.  While his friend still attends Corinth Baptist, Woodlawn mainly stays at home playing on his Xbox 360.  When asked about church, Woodlawn told us, "For a while there, I felt like I belonged.  However, after the pastor said what he said, I realized that they are just a bunch of insensitive hypocrites.  I thought the gospel was a message of grace.  Then the pastor added a work: being able to walk the aisle.  I don't need that.  Instead of Tim Keller, I've started reading Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  No more church for me."


Nathan W. Bingham said...

This reminds me of something I read in an article by James E. Adams (Decisional Regeneration):

"'Just As I Am,' the precious hymn perhaps most frequently sung for the altar call, was written in 1836 by Charlotte Elliott:

'Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.'

The phrase, 'O Lamb of God, I come, I come,' has been widely used to encourage people to 'come' down the aisle. But it is significant that Miss Elliott wrote the hymn for the infirm and that it first appeared in a hymnal prepared especially for invalids. To Miss Elliott, coming to Christ was not walking an aisle."

The Brain said...

Ditto quadriplegics who can't put there hand "up and then down" in churches with a less involved altar call.

AspiringTheologian said...

"Chuck! Stand up and let them see you! O What am I saying..."

They should have had Joe Biden there to get Nick up out of his wheelchair, heh heh.

M Keller said...

perhaps another book? may not be interested but Joni Tada has lived crippled for over 30 years. very powerful stuff....perhaps?


fresnel said...

This story doesn't strike me as silly or unlikely. While it's quite possible that a deaf person in the congregation could be offended by the statement, "Let him who has ears to hear..." that's really not something a leader can walk on eggshells about. There are way too many human frailties to try to get all hyper-sensitive to everyone's sensitivities in order to not hurt anyone. Somewhere in there, there must be a balance that shows common respectfulness to the general public. The extremes of overt and constant callousness to many and ultra-political correctness.

If someone does feel hurt, I think that can be dealt with privately as long as the pastor is widely understood to be a person who really does love people. Having a reputation for loving people can cover a lot of potential offenses.

Certainly, if this paraplegic was in community and suddenly disappeared, it would be something for the pastor (or more likely the guy's church friends) to talk through with him and then help him make his commitment. For this very visible and specially welcomed visitor to just shut down and have no one follow up on him to find out why he vanished seems unlikely. If he really is allowed to just vanish, then that's something that really does need fixing.

Jeff said...

What about all of those poor CHEVY loving Israelites who were left behind when Joshua FORD-ed over the Jordan?

Jim Pemberton said...

"To receive God's gift of grace, all you gotta do is..."

Dave Miller said...

Its a shame he didn't visit a holy roller church

Darrin said...

On a related serious note, Andrew recently posted some good thoughts on "Trusting in the Sinner's Prayer vs. Trust in God's Electing Purpose" over at
in case anyone's interested.

Nicholas said...

"Nick Woodlawn" ......


Eric, I'm probably the only one who gets why that's funny... and let me tell you, it's hilarious!

Eric said...


That one was just for you! Enjoy.

joydriven said...

sad piece of business.