Men making a difference at Christian Love Center
Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 5, 2015
Maze Marshall was falling and spinning through the air and his thoughts were that he might die.
In making preparations for his crew to jump from the Army plane in Korea’s DNZ, he had stepped through the plane’s open door and was falling 60 feet to the unyielding ground.
In a few seconds, Marshall’s life was changed forever. He is paralyzed from the waist down and, for mobility, he depends on a wheelchair.
Although Marshall’s story is tragic, he said it doesn’t begin to compare with the grievous situation his friend, Fred O’Neal, faced.
Once Marshall stepped through that airplane’s open door, he had no control over his circumstance. O’Neal’s situation was different.
O’Neal was nearing retirement from the United States Air force, only about six months left to go.
As far as he knew, he was as fit as a fiddle. Then, a growth was found on his spinal cord.
“I was told that if the growth ruptured, I would die,” O’Neal said. “If the growth was surgically removed, I could live but I would be paralyzed from the waist down. I chose to live. But, if I known what I was going to have to go through, I might have decided to die.”
O’Neal’s thoughts were that he would wake from surgery with no movement in his legs. He didn’t know that he would be as helpless as a six-month-old baby.
“I couldn’t even sit up,” he said. “I would topple and fall over. It was like I had been born again, physically. It was long time before I could get to where I am now – in the wheelchair.
Marshall and O’Neal are both from Montgomery and they met at a veterans’ gathering and began to talk about their pasts and their futures.
They shared stories of how they had been surrounded by people who helped them through their difficult times – people who helped them physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“We are both blessed to be alive and we wanted to find a way to be a blessing to others,” Marshall said.
O’Neal said they found a place and a way to be blessings to others at the Christian Love Center in Troy. “It’s a God place.”
“The kids that come here are underprivileged,” he said. “They need someone to share their time and talents with them. Like today, I have eaten imaginary cookies and drunk imaginary Kool-Aid and I’ve had a great time doing it. It means as much to me as it does to the kids.”
Marshall said he and O’Neal are blessed to be able to help out at the Christian Love Center.
“Just by being here, we help out,” he said. “The kids are wonderful. They are curious about the wheelchairs but they don’t look at us as being any different from them. And, that makes us feel good. We feel needed and wanted here.”
The volunteers said their hope is that, by being at the Christian Love Center, they can make a difference in the lives of the children there.
“Angeline Green who is the director, and Lawanda Bell, the youth coordinator, have been given a vision by God for this center and we want to be a part of it,” Maze said.
O’Neal said all he has been through is made worthwhile by the smiles of the children at the Christian Love Center.
“It’s a blessing to us to have volunteers like Maze and Fred,” Green said. “They are God- sent and they will make a difference in the lives of our children here at the Christian Love Center.”