The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind?
Is it not I, the LORD?
Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
My faith cannot be separated from my disability. Studies have shown that children usually ask THE BIG QUESTION (“why am I different?”) between the ages of 5-10. I don’t remember asking the question until I was 23. Maybe I’m a late bloomer or maybe it wasn’t important to me. I do know I’ve asked the question many times in my 20s and 30s. I think the reason is a simple one. God has called me to disabled ministry, and I must fully know myself in order to be effective in my call. That has taken me ten years to move through. Only God knows where I’m at in that process. Maybe I’m done, but I have a hunch that it will take a lifetime to figure out things out.
I don’t have the space to explain everything I learned here. I could write an entire book this and perhaps I will someday. But here’s my starting point: Exodus 4:11-12. As I have written elsewhere, this is God’s answer to my question. He made me; now I must go and minister for him. It is a simple answer. It’s also an answer with many complex parts, and I leave those for the book. For now, here’s a part of my testimony.
I was born with cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. My speech is also affected. But that doesn’t stop me from maintaining a normal lifestyle. I don’t know how to do anything but to be out in the community and access its resources. I know the clerk at the store might not understand me; that only means I have to help him understand. I know I look strange eating out in public, but the solution is to stay home. I’m not going to do that, so that means being confident in myself and ignoring the inevitable stare. My first book, My Exodus, talks about my early years and how I became independent. I also go into more detail about my faith journey and its impact on my life.
I have two brothers, and I am the oldest. Torin is three years younger than me and is a physical therapist. He is married and four two boys. Travis is nine years younger than me and is an economist. My mother retired from teaching in 2006. She is currently the director of the Cerebral Palsy Association. We lost my farther on October 21, 2007. He is missed.
As I think about my faith, I can trace my journey using John Wesley’s Wesley used to say prevenient grace was like standing on the front porch of a house being introduced to God. I was always on the porch or at least in the yard, curious of faith. My family was active in the Methodist church, and I can remember n Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and other children’s activities in the life of a church. When I was in eighth grade, I leaped at the opportunity to take confirmation class and joined the church. I was active in my youth group through high school.
In 1994 I moved out on my own and found a Methodist church close to my home to attend. This is where I truly accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Wesley described justifying faith as the point at which we truly accept Jesus as Savior. Believing that he
existed is not enough; accepting that he died to redeem us from sin and choosing to live life his way is the real starting point. That is when we open the door to the house and walk through into the wonderful world of God’s kingdom that will never end. In this kingdom house, we enter into sanctifying grace, the process of becoming like Christ.
My journey in the kingdom began when I enrolled in my first Disciple Bible Study class in 1996. Since that time, I have completed all four 32-week Disciple classes, plus Christian Believer. I also have been through Stephen Ministry training, and it has further molded me in the likeness of Christ. Even though I haven’t been assigned an official caring relationship, I am better able to deal with my own emotions in relationships, and relate more effectively to others.
I also had wonderful mentors who helped me discover what it really means to follow Christ, a process that will never be completed this side of heaven. Wesley used to say that sanctification is like being able to search the innermost room of the house. That’s the type of relationship I have with the Lord now. I’m comfortable talking to him about anything.
In the fall of 2004, I became lukewarm in my faith and church became more of a duty and a social hour with my friends. I knew I had to leave familiar waters and follow the Lord. I began to search for a new church home, and within two months I found International Anglican Church where I’ve been blessed to continue my journey. God has been so good, and I’m in awe at what he has done. Worship has become authentic again, and I’m with people my own age who accept me for who I am. I participate in a small group, and I’m even on the list of readers for the Sunday morning readings.
In 1998, after I received my AA, I didn’t know what to do next. I always thought I’d go on for a BA in journalism or at least take a job as a newsletter editor/designer. But my passion for the Lord and ministry was too strong not to ignore. I just didn’t know how to use it.
I remember sitting outside my apartment after Bible study one evening asking God what he wanted me to do with my life. Then I had a crazy thought: disabled ministry. I was baffled. Me minister to the disabled community? Not me! When I was a child, I didn’t like to be labeled “disabled” and I certainly didn’t hang out with other people with disabilities. I can only say God changed my heart. Today, I’m comfortable hanging out with people who are disabled, especially kids. I am still uncomfortable going to things like adult support groups because I don’t like to hear negative thinking, but maybe that’s because I feel called to make a difference in the lives of youth, rather than effect changes in the thinking of adults.
It has been quite a ride since that night. I study the Word daily, read everything I can get my hands on and seek out resources daily. I seek to live out Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I received my Bachelor of Arts in Ministry from the Nazarene Bible College in 2009.
As you can see, God’s hand has always been on my life. He has been guiding, molding, and teaching me from a very young age, and I believe he will continue to do so. Jesus himself also had an answer to the “Why” question. In John 9 he says: Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
More about my faith and me can be found throughout my website and my books. Please take a look!