After paralysis, a spiritual healing
A young man’s decision to be baptized is, for most families,…
If God gives awards for church attendance, Rob will have a chest full of blue ribbons.
In June of 1968, the Churches of Christ in Denver were having a joint campaign in the downtown civic center. We went each night. People were responding and being immersed in a portable baptistery. Rob sat in his wheelchair. Every night he tugged on his dad’s coat, pointing to the front, indicating that he want to respond to the invitation.
At the last service, he was so persistent that Bob finally whispered to him, “After the meeting, we will go to our church building, and you can be baptized.”
We went with a group of friends to the University Boulevard church. Amid tears of joy, our minister, Max Hughes, and Rob’s dad immersed him into Christ. Like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, I think Rob went on his way home rejoicing.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
— Acts 8:39, New International Version
Rob had to tell his sister, who was away at college in Nashville, Tenn. He used his electric typewriter. It had a guard over the keyboard so his one-finger, erratic hand movements would not jam the keys. Putting his finger through the guard and into the correct key hole was a challenge. As he tried, his head would throw back to the right, making it impossible to see the keyboard. He often missed the mark. These were the days before “delete” keys, so the only way to correct a mistake was to backspace and slash over the error. Much effort went into this short letter:
Dear Glenda: I was
t to fa baptized June 23, 1968. I ha have Chris am a Christian. Bro. Hughs A and Daddy have Chair and Ginny baptized me in a chair. Tell Ginny. Love R Rob.
Glenda picked up the letter at the school post office and was reading it as she walked along. Dan Kirby happened to be walking beside her and said, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” She then ran off to her dorm room, crying.
A few days later, she sought out Dan to apologize and shared the letter. She explained about her brother’s cerebral palsy and his baptism. (Dan, by the way, is now Glenda’s husband.)
In spite of not being able to participate actively in church, Rob was well-known and loved by so many people. He loved to sing and, without understandable speech, he would sing out in his own language.
Being aware that it could be distracting to some, I tried to get him to sing softly. Then a friend reminded me that God hears the heart, and he was singing from the heart.
Rob had a real love for the Lord. The influence of God’s people and the support of friends left a lasting imprint on his life. Being surrounded by loving church families helped him develop and use his talent for sharing joy with those around him.
DOTTIE GLENN TRAVIS is the mother of Rob, a Christian with cerebral palsy. After the death of his father, Rob moved into a facility operated by Rainbow Omega, a faith-based nonprofit that cares for adults with developmental disabilities. Rob died in 2010 after a brief illness. His mother recounts his life in her 2017 memoir, “R-O-B spells Joy!” from which this devotional was adapted. The memoir is available from the 21st Century Christian bookstore. Travis worships with the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn.
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