Sifting through hate mail

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to reach my hand through the computer screen and punch these anonymous cowards in the face. I had opened my email to be notified of the latest comment on only to once again see a barrage of messages laced with vulgarity, mocking my condition being physically paralyzed and calling into question the validity of my faith. There is nothing that screams “courage” quite like typing out hateful words behind an anonymous name while hiding behind a computer screen.


Why me? I wasn’t supposed to get stuff like that. I assumed backlash like this was for well-known pastors and evangelists who sit on street corners. People who stick their neck out in the public eye. Not some obscure 25-year-old who started a blog about his journey with a spinal cord injury, who just happens to incorporate his faith.

Was I doing something wrong? Was I in denial? Why were random people so bothered by my blog? I began to second-guess my words. As paranoia rose about what else could be in store and as I wondered if this was just the tip of the iceberg, I sought out something to distract me and settled on mindless reading by pulling up my Twitter feed. Smack dab at the top, tweeted out just minutes prior, was the following:

Driscoll persecution tweet
Talk about perfect timing. It was as if God was giving me a bold reminder: “Get over it…this is part of the deal if you’re going to be outspoken about your faith.”

I didn’t realize I had signed up for war by following Jesus, but the Bible makes it abundantly clear that resistance is part of the deal. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus doesn’t mince words, he tells his followers, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

Jesus did not give me the option to toe the line on where I stand or to cater to our culture’s view of “believe whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t offend anyone else.” In fact, Jesus Himself was the most offensive person that ever walked the planet. He could not have drawn the line any clearer than by saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

This past week I was reminded of the chilling reality that persecution is taken to an entirely different level in other parts the world. I read an article that Kim Jong-un ordered the execution of 33 Christians in North Korea. Their offense? Organizing to start a group of churches. 33 people. Executed. For attempting to have the opportunity to do something that millions of Americans have the freedom to do every single week.

A slew of nasty emails is child’s play compared to what others are experiencing. This blog is just a bunch of words. It costs me absolutely nothing to write. I am free to say whatever I want here without fear that it will cost me or my loved ones their lives.

Maybe the emails received over the past few months were to serve as a wake-up call. Maybe just a small fraction of a taste of what persecution could entail. Regardless, I’m thankful to notice a change in how I look at it. From now on, the next time on email comes (or any other form of resistance), I want to first and foremost keep it in perspective by focusing on those who are facing far more brutal environments around the world. Whatever may come, I want my posture to be that of Peter and the other apostles who, after getting beaten and imprisoned, began proclaiming, “We were counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ!” (Acts 5:41). If that’s what it takes, I want to be all in.

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  1. Shannon C. said:

    Ryan! Well said friend. I love what God is doing in all of this! It’s encouraging.


  2. Sarah G. said:

    YES! Thank you for listening to God and sharing so openly and authentically (as always), I always hear Him through your posts!


  3. Anne Hoffmann said:

    I love what you are doing. You are an inspiration to me, and I am sure others, who read your blog. I feel sorry for those who need to be so nasty; think of what misery their minds must be in.


  4. Aarion Whipple said:

    I’m quite saddened that you must endure so much ignorance while only trying to share your story… Keep doing what you’re doing you’re an inspiration to many.


  5. Nancy D. said:

    Ryan: Believe in all you do, for I can not even begin to tell you how you affected my life that day at Crossroads. I will continue to pray for you. Know your blog is changing lives for the good… And that make you happy.
    Concentrate on the people who are positive, they will be the influence for your life.


  6. BA said:

    You are accomplishing amazing things with your blog and the testimony of your faith. That’s why the Evil One is at work. Stay strong! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, feelings and faith with all — you are positively impacting more people than you know!


  7. Judy Dalambakis said:

    Again, I say you are amazing and so inspirational. Plus, wise beyond your years!!


  8. Sue said:

    I am proud of you, Ryan. Instead of lettting the hate mail cause you to cower and shrink back, you have chosen to let it propel you forward with even greater resolve and your face set like flint, just like Jesus’s example to us.
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:12

    Recognize that it is actually the evil one who is using these persons in trying to squash the gospel and shut you down!
    I’m glad you are using this to propel you forward! And you will make the enemy sad he ever messed with you, because by your heartfelt prayers for these hatemongers, you will overcome evil with good, and act just like our beautiful Savior who when mocked and beaten – He died for us, even while we were yet sinners! WOW, the love and mercy of God is mind-blowing!

    You are among the company who “triumphed over the accuser by the blood of the Lamb and by the WORD OF YOUR TESTIMONY; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Rev. 12:11)
    Welcome to the heroes of faith! Yours is the Kingdom of God!
    “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.…” Mt. 5:11
    Keep preaching it brother.
    Love you bro!
    ❤️ Sue


    • Tim Heidel said:

      Wow, Sue…great advice and support…for Ryan and all of us who face such challenges!


  9. jeannie handelsman said:

    Thank you Ryan. i needed to hear this!


  10. Tim Heidel said:

    Ryan, I have had people write nasty things anonymously about me…and the outpouring of Faith from others was amazing. People were pulling me aside and handing me Bible verses…these were people who had never previously discussed God with me. As one of these people said…”just consider the source…a coward”.

    Keep up the great work. I think of you often, sir!


  11. Kimberley Shaver said:

    I was saddened to read your post today. The old saying “Sticks and stones….etc” is simply not true. Words can encourage or cause great distress and hurt.Please know there are so many people who are inspired by your blog; including me!


  12. Ryan I am continually amazed at the revelation the Holy Spirit is pouring into you. I am blessed and privileged to know you. Just keep going!
    S.C. Healing Rooms


  13. Ryan:

    Thanks for honesty and candor……..keep being AUTHENTIC with what you say and what you share.

    God Bless, 



  14. Ryan H. said:

    Thanks Ryan for sharing and being vulnerable with us each week; I learn and gain valuable new perspectives every time I read your posts.


  15. Chris Burkart said:

    Thank you, Ryan. I appreciate your honesty, your faith and your courage. I believe that those who try to tear people down especially when it comes to faith are afraid. I will say a prayer for them, that their eyes will be opened to the truth.


  16. Kathleen F said:

    I enjoy reading your blog and find it very inspiring . Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights.


  17. Jennie S. said:

    Ryan, your posts are helping to advance God’s kingdom and that is a real threat to the evil one! When I came across Psalm 109, I felt led to share this as David cries out to God about this very thing:

    “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.” (Psalm 109: 1-5)

    “Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with your love. Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it. They may curse, but you will bless; when they attack they will be put to shame, but your servant will rejoice. My accusers will be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak. With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.” (Psalm 109: 26-31)


  18. Hey Ryan, glad to hear you are doing it RIGHT! 🙂 I am one of those stand on the corner Street Preachers, and yes it gets pretty nasty, I was at Mardi Gras a couple of weeks ago with a group, my two fondest memories, one of a young woman walking up to my “Free EKG HERE” (heart check, how’s your heart?) she wants me to “check her chest” I tell her no, this is about Loving God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. Well, I got the F bomb and the little birdie, even the guy I was witnessing to apologized for her. The other guy that came up, one finger extended WAY OUT with a F bomb machine gun and I laughed and said “Hey it’s OK!” and laughed so hard he walked off. Then he came back, BOTH HANDS OUTSTRETCHED with the little birdie, F Bombs away, and I just rolled my eyes, laughed again, “man it’s ok, I understand!” with a big smile, he got frustrated and walked away kinda deflated like. Love ’em. If you are getting attacked, you are hitting them where God can minister to them. Keep Love as the Bed Rock Foundation, you’ll never go wrong. Much Love Bro! Jeff


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