Mathiston, Mississippi — A Christian man in Mississippi that was severely injured several years ago in an automobile accident says that confinement to a wheelchair is not stopping him from sharing the Gospel with those that are spiritually crippled by sin.
Richard Story states that his life changed forever in 2006 as he was filling in for a co-worker who was to haul a trailer-load full of material for the company that day.
“I had a blowout on one of the wheels on the trailer,” Story told Christian News Network. “As I slowed down, I was about to get off the road onto the shoulder, and a vehicle came up behind me, and the front part of his truck came up on the trailer.”
“Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw his tailgate straight up in the air,” he continued. “The hitch on the trailer came off of the ball and hit the tailgate dead center.”
Story said that besides the Lord, there was just one reason he came out of the accident alive.
“I had remembered to attach the safety chain that day,” he explained, “And the safety chain is the only thing that kept the trailer from coming up into the cab.”
Story was then transported to the hospital, where his condition worsened over time.
“By Monday morning, I could barely walk,” he recounted. “They discovered that I sustained several herniated discs in my neck and my back, [and that] bone fragments were dangerously close to my spinal cord.”
At first, Story was able to get around with the aid of a cane, but his legs continued to weaken to the point where he could only walk a few feet — on a good day.
However, last year, as he sat at home watching the cars go by on the nearby highway, Story began to ask himself where the people would spend eternity. He had also been mindful of evangelists across the country that he had seen crosswalking — that is, walking the city streets with a wooden replica of Jesus’ cross.
Story then put the two concepts together.
“[T]he idea came into my head that I would like to have one of those crosses,” he explained. “I asked some of the crosswalkers where they got theirs.”
“When it got here, I couldn’t wait to go out with this,” Story said. “I literally sat here [excitedly] waiting for the cross to arrive.”
He then asked his wife Suzanne to wheel him out to the roadside, as he wanted to sit in the grass of the adjacent lot and hold his cross for the cars to see as they passed. Story says that he has received mixed reactions from the public.
“The second day I went, as cars would go by, I’d have people blow their horn and wave,” he outlined. “[One older couple] was grinning ear to ear, waving just as hard as they can at me.”
“I’ve had several looks of disgust,” he added, noting the downside. “One guy gave me a thumbs down.”
Story said that he has also received a number of negative comments from professing Christians on his blog site Words Matter. “Evangelism is only for those who are called and trained,” read one message. “You are wasting your time sitting out in that cold and wind making a fool of yourself with that cross. It will not make a difference,” a second wrote.
However, Story happily relayed that in the past few weeks that he has been sitting at the roadside with the cross, he has already seen the Lord using his witness for His glory. He explained that one family that passed by was arguing among themselves whether or not Story was a statue.
“[The mother] turned back just to prove to them that I was a real person,” Story remembered. “I was able to share the Gospel with the whole carload.”
He also recalled an incident that took place when he brought his 17-year-old son to stand with him one day.
“[One of my son’s classmates pulled up and] asked about what we were doing and why we were on the corner. I talked to her for a few minutes and Tyler gave her a copy of Shocking Youth Message by Paul Washer, Booklet Scientific Facts in the Bible by Ray Comfort and a tract by Tony Miano,” he explained. “Then she said one of the most encouraging things I’ve been told while witnessing: ‘I think what the two of you are doing is wonderful. I will be sure to read and listen to what you gave me.’ She thanked us several times for being out there and for talking to her.”
Story states that he really doesn’t care what others think about his outreach, and that he believes people need to get over themselves and just go out and evangelize.
“The main key to overcoming fear in evangelism is to focus on Christ and forget about yourself,” he advised. “People concentrate more on themselves and what’s comfortable for them. … [But], it’s not about ‘What’s in it for me?’ It’s ‘What can I do for Jesus and the King of the earth?'”
Story said that he simply hopes that his presence at the roadside will give people much to think about when they pass.
“My first prayer is that people will see, ‘Are you ready?'” he shared, “and ask themselves, ‘Am I truly ready for when I die?'”
As for those who say that his outreach is a waste of time, Story has a message for them.
“I hate to think that some who call themselves ‘Christian’ for whatever reason imply [that evangelism] is a waste of time. Christ came to seek and save the lost,” he said. “Waste of time? I think not. I so pray for more time to ‘waste’ for my glorious King.”