God has given us the privilege of serving Him for over 32 years in the same ministry. During our years of ministry God has given us several trials and supplied us with His grace and strength to equip us for some hard experiences that have prepared us to help others. We believe that God has given us a message of hope for a world full of hopeless people. Please contact us for free advice or biblical counseling.
2 Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
My name is Bob Hassel. As a child and even into my adult years I was a very active athlete competing in various sports. However, in 2009 I was diagnosed with a very rare disease called hereditary spastic paraplegia which affects approximately 20,000 people in the United States. Hereditary spastic paraplegia (referred to as HSP) affects the upper motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that deliver signals to the lower motor neurons, which in turn, carry messages to the muscles. HSP affects my ability to walk and maintain my balance. I will probably never be able to play sports again or even be able to walk without assistance. At this time there is no cure for the disease.
When a person receives a diagnosis like this, it is only natural to be devastated. However, because of an event that took place in my life when I was a teenager, I am not devastated. My perspective on life was changed when as a 19 year old, I trusted Jesus as my Savior from sin. This was and forever will be the greatest event of my life.
I acknowledged that I was a sinner because I had disobeyed God’s law (Romans 3:23) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” and realized that I deserved eternal death because of my sins. (Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I believed that Jesus died for my sins (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” and I called upon God to forgive me of my sins. (Romans 10:13) “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I may never be healed from HSP while on this earth, but I know that all my sins have been forgiven, and when I die I will spend eternity in Heaven. Are you going to Heaven when you die? If you are not sure what will happen to you when this life ends, please trust only Jesus as your Savior to forgive you of all your sins. According to the Bible, when I die, I will go to Heaven, receive a new body and be cured of HSP.
Fri, 11/23/2018 - 8:00am | Anthony Zilis
Photo by: Stephen Haas/The News-Gazette
The Rev. Bob Hassel is shown in his office Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, at Faith Baptist Church in Champaign.
Twice in his life, the Rev. Bob Hassel's reality was shifted when he lost the ability to walk normally.
The first time, what was then one of the most important aspects of his life was hampered: his basketball career.
He was on top of a roof at his summer job when he was 19, fixing a skylight, when he fell backwards and off the roof. Spinal cord fluid oozed out of his ear.
"My friend that I worked with, he thought I was dead," Hassel said.
He wasn't dead, just severely injured. But his dreams of pursuing a basketball scholarship were dashed. Still, he ended up playing at Maranatha Baptist Bible College.
The second time, the most important part of his modern life was hampered: his ability to preach.
Decades later, basketball was still a passion for Hassel, who has been the senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Champaign since 1991. In 2009, though, his athletic ability was starting to wane.
When he ran, he dragged his feet. When he played basketball, he couldn't jump as high. And when he played tennis with his wife, she began to overtake him.
His brother had Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, a disease that killed cells in his cerebellum and spinal cord and made it difficult for him to keep balance and walk.
Hassel never considered that he had the genetic disease, which none of his other relatives did as far as he knew. But given his difficulty picking up his feet, he went to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md.
He was diagnosed with the disease.
The effects have become progressively worse over the years.
A few years ago, he had to stop playing basketball for good.
"It really was a life-changer, and the last two years, it's gotten really bad," he said. "I have to grab things if I don't have a walker."
Hassel can't preach quite like he used to. He has to hang on to the pulpit when he stands, and he can't walk around and interact with the congregation anymore.
Hassel, though, has decided to preach in different ways. He's created small brochures to give to people who see him in a scooter or a walker as he makes his way around public places. The brochures tell the story of his disease, but also explain his religious beliefs and that his outlook is positive because he'll spend eternity in heaven.
"Here I am, a young guy on this electric scooter, and I'm sure people are thinking, 'What's wrong with him?'" he said. "And so, I want to give them hope.
"If people ask me how I'm doing, 'The outer body's not doing so well, but the inner body, the real me, is doing fine.'"
I had the wonderful privilege of growing up in a Christian family. There is nothing better that a child could possess than parents who are saved and live to please God.
Neither of my parents grew up in Christian homes and that is one reason I consider it all the more valuable. My mom was saved as a child after a Sunday School teacher invited her to Sunday School. My dad was saved as a young adult about the same time I was saved.
My parents were not in church as young marrieds, but my mom knew she and my dad needed to be in church once the children came. My parents attended a Lutheran church for a time and I was sprinkled as a toddler. When my brother was born, the pastor told my parents if they did not have him sprinkled, and he died as a baby, he would not go to heaven. My mom knew enough of the Bible to know that was not biblical teaching.
My parents started attending a Southern Baptist church that preached salvation and my dad was saved at a special meeting during this time. My mom was concerned with some of the teaching coming out of the Southern Baptist Seminary in San Francisco, California which was close to the town where we lived. My parents started attending the same independent Baptist church that my aunt and cousinsc attended.
It was during this time that I began to understand that it was my own sins that cost Christ His life; not just the sins of the world in general. Though I was only 5 years old, I knew my sin was bad enough for me to deserve hell and that was one place I did not want to go. After Sunday morning church, one day I was very convicted of my sin and told my mom I knew I was going to hell. She showed me from the Bible that I could have my sins forgiven. I don’t remember much of what my mom said, but she did ask if I wanted to pray, and I did. We knelt by my parent’s bed and I asked the Lord to forgive me for my sin. When I got up off my knees, I felt just as Pilgrim did in Pilgrim’s Progress when the burden of his sin went rolling off his back. I know salvation is not a feeling, but I knew at that time the burden of my sin was not resting upon me anymore.
I struggled some with salvation assurance as a teenager because I was so young when I was saved and couldn’t remember the date or the words I prayed. I definitely remember the incident and understand that nothing I did obtained my salvation so it wasn’t necessary for me to remember the words or the date as long as my trust was and is in Jesus and His death for me.
From the second grade on, I attended a Christian School and I knew early on that the Lord was calling me to serve Him full time. Though I lived on the West Coast and was not one that really enjoyed being away from home, I attended Bible College in the Midwest. It was there I met my husband and we knew the Lord was calling us to full time ministry. Originally we planned to teach in a Christian school, but the Lord changed our direction as He called us to work with youth as full time assistant pastor and wife at our present church. Eventually the Lord led my husband to become the senior pastor. We have four adult children, all of whom were born in Urbana, IL and grew up in our present church. They now live in various parts of the country. We also have 2 grandsons with a third grandchild due in September. God has truly blessed our family and though life has had unexpected difficulties, God has supplied our need every step of the way.