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Give and Let Give

By Sue Richards | 24 September 2018 | Comments (1)

As a visually impaired person, my husband, John, has often been the recipient of generous giving. He has benefitted from fund-raising activities and street collections, and has been the owner of four gorgeous guide dogs. He is extremely grateful to charities like Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, RNIB, Calibre (who send him audio books) and the BWBF who provide him with an internet radio.

But it’s important to him to be able to give too. He has spent hours clutching collecting tins and organising events and once raised over £5000 for GDBA by taking part in a sponsored trek in the Sinai desert!

John was church secretary for a number of years which he achieved by using a computer with a Braille display. He formed and led Milton Keynes Torch Fellowship for visually impaired people, for almost 20 years. If at times people had to be patient as he found his place in his Braille bible (which comes in 30-odd volumes) or needed help to navigate the plethora of cables, music stands and microphones to get to the front, then everyone was blessed and encouraged.

He is always grateful for the many opportunities he has had to give as well as receive, but sadly found this isn’t always the case. Whilst many people are happy to dig deep into their pockets or raise money by completing crazy challenges, they aren’t always prepared to give the time and space to disabled people who want to donate their skills, talents and experiences in God’s service.

As John also has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, his mobility has drastically declined over the last few years and he now has to use a wheelchair whenever he goes out. Both at church and non-church events, John has found that people have been eager to push his chair, fetch him a coffee or generally ‘serve’ him but haven’t been so willing to sit and talk or really get to know him. Where the guide dog was a magnet for conversation, the wheelchair seems to have the opposite effect!

John has an amazing testimony and spent his working life as a social worker, so he has lots to offer. As a Christian too he is called upon to give, and not just financially. Romans 12:6-8 says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us… if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.” The impact of this verse is twofold. We’re reminded that God has given everyone gifts, some may be obvious, but some may be further under the surface. Everyone should have an opportunity to contribute, otherwise the whole church misses out. Moreover, we can encourage and contribute to the needs of those with disabilities, by letting them also contribute.

Christians such as Helen Keller, Joni Eareckson-Tada and Marilyn Baker have been used mightily by God, because of, rather than in spite of their disabilities. How open are we to seeing potential for ministry in the men and women with disabilities in our churches? Are they being given opportunities to serve God as well as be served? I read recently of a woman with cerebral palsy, who, despite having no speech, was able to give a talk to a crowd of thousands due to assistive technology and eye-pointing.

All of us are called by God to serve others and give generously. To ‘do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.’ (1 Timothy 6:18) Whatever we have to offer.


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comments:

Tracee Barr

September 29, 2018 12:22 AM
I deal with mobility issues which limit me going out & getting to church & other places, so I understand this completely! People are always too busy or just do not want to take the time required to help. It is an issue that definitely needs prayer!

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