The title of this article is the title of a book written by a bed-ridden gospel preacher, Bob Spurlin. I wish to devote this issue of The Reporter to relate information concerning the plight and the work of brother Spurlin, and provide some information concerning his latest book, Don't Ever Give Up. Upon reading this article I believe we all would say brother Spurlin is eminently qualified to deal with this subject.
Along with a personal letter, Bob sent me a paper entitled, "A Cry for Help from a Brother in Need." (Note: He told me in a telephone conversation that they do not ask for charity, at least for now.) The paper reads:
"The Bob Spurlin family ministered to churches of Christ for 30 years when suddenly (Bob was) diagnosed with multiple sclerosis from the respected Mayo Clinic in August of 1995. Another shock came to the Spurlin family when four days later their daughter, Bethany Ann, 16, suffered an automobile accident and expired on August 16, 1995. Bob has endured a bedridden existence since a crippling exacerbation occurred in July of 1996.
"Bob's condition has needed physical and occupational therapists, constant care with his brothers and son, Paul, taking care of the bathing chores and other lifting when needed. Bob's body, rarely moved from the hospital bed, needs essential recovery time compounding the weakness for days at a time. Medicare and Beverly's insurance in the Hartselle school system has limits to take care of the medical expenses. Recently it has become necessary to hire a full time nurse to be on call 24-hours a day.
"In the spring of 1996, Tom Holland, known evangelist-author began visiting the Spurlin family when traveling near their home. He encouraged Bob to write a book addressing the trials and misfortunes highlighting his health condition. Giving substance to handling grief, tributes to outstanding Christians, and other themes were the main focus. The title of the book was Tackling Life's Troubles. Bob's second book, DIAL 911: Essentials to Living Life in The 2lst. Century, came about through the support of Tom Holland and Paul Sain, Bob's publisher. The difficulty of writing these books in particular the second book, DIAL 911: Essentials to Living Life in The 21st Century, has become a real challenge. The books Bob has written has been a source of income that gives the family a sense of independence in the care of his condition. His legs have become useless because of the MS, and his right arm and shoulder have about 20% range of motion, to some degree his left shoulder has made conventional typing difficult and ineffective. A voice-activated program, Dragon Pad Naturally Speaking, enables Bob to speak through his headset microphone and the words become translated to written material. Thankfully computer technology has made the impossible, possible."
Some additional information is contained in the Preface to the book. Even though it contains some duplication of the paper above, it is worthy of our consideration concerning the plight brother Spurlin endures, and information concerning the book listed above. Brother Spurlin wrote:
"This book was the brainchild of my publisher and good friend, Paul Sain. He mentioned the idea of Don't Ever Give Up as the title and it would give me a jumping off place to address specific issues in our daily lives. Confronting subject matter like human suffering, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, facing a bedridden existence, challenge to caregivers, troubled marriages, disorderly children, loneliness, addictions, and so forth. Since normalcy of life changed forever with a crippling disease and being bedridden for nearly nine years it enables me to write on such subject matter. My hope is that coping with such a disease and the confinement associated with such a bedridden condition would give me special insights into the problem discussed ...
"Mayo Clinic diagnosed my illness as multiple sclerosis in the progressive stage in August of 1995. Four days later our only daughter, Bethany Ann, 16, succumbed to a terminal automobile accident compounding the shocking news already announced. A series of treatments, experimental drugs, physical and occupational therapy resulting with a week at the Health South Rehabilitation Center in Huntsville, AL provided no improvement. Massive doses of prednisone and other trial and error methods took place, however positive results did not occur as the decline of the disease continues. Neurologists, neurosurgeons, and countless other medical personnel suggested to us there was no available treatment to correct the problem.
"For nearly six months I was able to preach from my wheelchair following the initial diagnosis. According to my audience those hearing me before and after my disability considered my preaching more attentive to the practical problems of life such as human suffering, and other topics that came before my illness. One of my last appointments before an exacerbation restricted me to my hospital bed, a sister congregation invited me to speak during the morning worship. This appointment provided an opportunity to speak before a large television audience. Addressing the assembly from my wheelchair, my subject, "A God of the Hills, but not of the Valleys," examined a serious subject. Many believe God blesses only those during times of plenty and turns a deaf ear when facing times of misery. This, of course, is a total rejection of word and practice on the pages of Holy Writ. It would have been easy for me, or others surrendering to such disastrous events, to abandon God while crying, 'Woe is me.' Job, Joseph, Paul, and other Biblical characters did not abandon God when circumstances seemed overwhelming, nor should we.
"Since the crippling disease of MS took control of my life there has been a steady decline with exacerbations taking place reducing movement and limited acts. Changes taking place made it compulsory to use a cane, walker, wheelchair, and finally limited to a hospital bed. My wife, Beverly, has been a loving and compassionate caregiver giving attention to my every need. Being a responsible second grade teacher, while keeping a spotless house, plus the scores of other duties that tug at her time, speak volumes of her as a caregiver. Those that are thrust into this position do not seek or ask for it, but take it on with devotion and dedication, as their loved one is dependent on their care. Rarely do caregivers get the recognition or credit they deserve, but go about their business giving attention to a spouse or other family members not expecting praise.
"Serving as minister in churches of Christ for thirty years has been a satisfying and major focus of my life. However, confinement to a hospital bed is not the vision expected, which preceded my 50th birthday. Brethren Tom Holland and Paul Sain provided great encouragement for me to write a book, which at the time was an impossible task to imagine. My family subsequently insisted that we buy a computer that would allow me to use the word processor by writing such a book. For a time using the keyboard in the conventional way was satisfactory, but the multiple sclerosis continued to leave my right hand and arm almost unusable. God has given me the ability and technology to write two books, Tackling Life's Troubles and DIAL 911: Essentials to Living Life in the 21st Century.
"Unable to write in the traditional way, a special program became available for my computer, Dragon Pad voice activated program. No longer able to use my right arm and hand, I speak to the computer, which translates the spoken word into printed material. Book orders began pouring in from individuals as book orders went to forty states and seven foreign nations. This exceeded all expectations with three printings needed. Although my physical health has serious limits, yet the benefits to help those that face distress daily is a blessing never expected. It is with deep gratitude the heavenly Father has provided a medium that allows me to continue teaching through the written word. Remember, long after we have passed from this life will the power of the written word continue to influence those for good. It is our hope that Don't Ever Give Up will be helpful and edifying to the reader." -Bob Spurlin, March 2003.
Our heart goes out to Bob Spurlin, his wife, Beverly, his son and his brothers, because of the discomfort and strain endured daily. Bob told me they have to provide for his very basic needs. We especially wish to commend brother Spurlin for his patient endurance of a most debilitating circumstance, and his positive focus on life, the needs of others, and his own needs. It is commendable that he wishes to help defray his mounting medical expenses without asking for charity, while at the same time providing a service to others.
I wish to plead with all able-bodied Christians to help him (even while helping ourselves by reading an informative book) by purchasing a copy of the book, Don't Ever Give Up. This would be a good book to have available to give to someone who is undergoing difficult circumstances in life.
This is an opportunity for us to do good to a disabled gospel preacher, and at the same time do good for ourselves (or someone else) by providing some good reading material. I wish to encourage you to purchase at least one of the books, if you are financially able. HCR 69 Box 4, West Union, WV 26452.
(The above article was written and edited by E. Russell King and appeared in his good publication, The Reporter, Vol. 6, No. 12, dated June 6, 2004. We are thankful for his permission to reprint it here. It is an honor to do so. See ad., p. 7 Editor)