On May 10, 2008, Officer Lawrence was making an off-duty arrest when he was attacked and suffered a spinal injury that led to paralysis. At the time, he was well known as a community servant who would even buy roses on Mother’s Day for the ladies in a local nursing home. He spent time doing fundraisers for Alzheimer’s patients as well as working with those who battle autism and down syndrome. It should come as no surprise that he was also studying to be a minister and was an intern for several local churches. But he was paralyzed. And for most people, that would be the end.
Fast forward to February 2011 and he is not only walking again, but has never stopped his heart for ministry. During rehabilitation, he prayed with and encouraged other patients who were going through the same ordeal. His learned to walk with the help of crutches and pushed himself to recover against the odds of a miracle. And yes, that is what this now-ordained baptist minister is calling it: a miracle from the hand of God.
While it would be easy to believe that by ‘walking’, the implication is that Lawrence can only move a few steps here and there, but that would be a false impression. Last October, he walked a 3.1 mile race and proved not only to his community, but also to the nation that no injury has to be a death sentence. From start to finish, Lawrence has never put himself at the center of his life, but has, instead, focused on helping people around him even when his spine was so poorly damaged and paralysis appeared to be the end.
Now that Lawrence has retired with a pension from the Roanoke police force, he and his wife will be looking for a church where they believe God wants them to be. No doubt any church would benefit from such a man of faith. Amen to that.