Florida evangelist David Ring conducted his "Victory Rally" in Hampstead this week, using music and an oft-repeated message of Christian fulfillment to please the crowd in the packed auditorium at North Carroll High School.
"He's crossed denominational lines," said Lorraine Grodkiewicz of Manchester, who was delighted to discover friends in attendance from Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and other denominations at the Monday night gathering.
The rally swung with music, sacred in theme, upbeat in tempo. The lively audience needed no encouragement to clap and sing along with the familiar hymns. On stage, a 70-member choir representing 13 local churches produced a full-bodied sound.
Musical evangelists Mike and Faye Speck of Owasso, Okla., on tour with Mr. Ring, staged solos and duets with an orchestral soundtrack, grand piano and the choir.
Then Mr. Ring took the stage. His message was familiar to many; hehas been featured on television and on video and audio tapes produced by his ministry, which is based in Orlando, Fla. Copies of his tapes were on sale in the lobby, including "Thou Shalt Not Bellyache" and "The David Ring Story," and T-shirts emblazoned with "Don't Whine But Shine."
Mr. Ring, 38, was born with cerebral palsy. And so, with quivering hands, slurred speech and a limp, he spoke of Christian fulfillment despite his handicaps.
"I have cerebral palsy," he challenged the audience with what has become his trademark phrase. "What's your problem?"
"In weakness, there is strength," he said. "I don't know what it is to walk normal. I don't know what it is to talk normal . . . but I do know this -- I'm going to be like Jesus."
Mrs. Grodkiewicz nodded in agreement. "He has a visible handicap," she said. "We all have invisible handicaps."
Mr. Ring's handicap, she said, was irrelevant to his message. He speaks through it so well, she said, adding, "If you just make yourself available, God will use you."