Reaching the places other Christians can’t reach
Ros Bayes reports on the first Disability Inclusion in our Churches event, hosted by Through the Roof - which featured a particularly powerful testimony
At Through the Roof's Disability Inclusion In Our Churches event in Ashtead last weekend, we heard Jo Hooper tell her story of how God broke into her life through tragic circumstances to restore joy and hope to her. The power of Jo’s testimony was a reminder of how God uses disabled people to reach into areas and situations that those of us without that lived experience can’t reach.
She shared with us how her walker has become a tool for evangelism. Wherever she goes, it becomes a vehicle for her to share her testimony and tell others how wonderful Jesus is. Recently on a cruise ship holiday Jo had a captive audience in the other passengers, and it was her joy to tell people on that holiday what Jesus has done for her. For the audience listening to Jo speak, any preconceptions we might have had about people who look, walk or speak differently were soon laid to rest.
Jo had been brought up in a Christian home but had gone away from the faith of her parents, finding church boring and wanting to do her own thing. She got involved with motorbikes and became involved in a relationship with a biker. Together they had a daughter. They decided to go travelling, but after only a few weeks, while staying in a caravan in Greece, he made an error while adjusting the gas for cooking, which resulted in a massive gas explosion.
Tragically their little girl lost her life, and Jo was very badly injured. As a result of 58 per cent burns she developed septicaemia and MRSA, and her partner abandoned her. Jo developed dystonia from the trauma she experienced, and this caused her to lose the ability to eat or speak.
One of Jo’s biker friends became a Christian and invited her to a healing meeting. At this meeting, Jo encountered Jesus for herself and handed her life over to Him.
She still retains the effects of her injuries – she is blind, deaf in one ear, and has problems with mobility, needing a walker to move around independently. Jo shared how she had been very angry, but has received inner healing from having Jesus living in her. She had been unable to speak, but has received physical healing, which is how she was able to stand up and share her story with us. Because her speech is slurred and she can’t walk unaided she is sometimes mistaken for being drunk.
The thing that came across most from Jo’s talk was the joy she now experiences from having Christ in her life. Her radiance was visible to all, and she explained that though she had lost so much as a result of the accident, she could not put a price on the blessing of having found Jesus through it. Life isn’t fair? Yes, Jo agreed that it isn’t. But the hope and joy that she holds onto is that she has the whole of eternity to make up for it.
To hear more challenging stories from disabled speakers, book onto one of our upcoming Disability Inclusion In Our Churches events – Edinburgh 29 February, Manchester 14 March, and Bristol 21 March. See here for details: https://throughtheroof.org/forchurches/events.
Ros Bayes is Training Resources Developer at Through the Roof