August 2015  |  Return to eNewsletter

PEOPLE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Welcome to the latest edition of Luke14 news. In this issue, we examine the intimate stories from people who are making a difference in the world of inclusion.  Guest writer Nils von Kalm joins us for a three-part series exploring the theology which underlies the work of CBM.

We also welcome Helena McNeill to the Luke14 team with CBM Australia. Helena has featured in previous Luke14 materials talking about her family life and daughter, Sunshine, who lives with cerebral palsy. Helena’s article in this edition shares more of her heart.

Other articles in this edition include stories of people who lived with a mental illness but still contributed in meaningful ways to their communities before their passing. We often recall the struggles and sorrows of people who live with a mental illness, but the reality for many is that they have a very positive impact on people around them in the midst of that struggle.

We also ask for your continued support in prayer.

THOUGHTS ON THEOLOGY BY NILS VON KALM

Love RevolutionThrough the Luke14 newsletter, we’ve shared thoughts on the teachings in the Bible around disability. At CBM, we know that poverty and disability are linked – if you live in poverty, you’re more likely to get a disability, and if you live with disability, you’re more likely to end up in poverty. So in this issue, Nils explores what God has to say through the Bible about poverty.

Nils is a writer who has worked at World Vision and currently works with Anglican Overseas Aid. He also writes on faith and culture at www.soulthoughts.com (or www.nilsvonkalm.com).

The Bible contains over 2,000 verses that speak about poverty. It is a theme at the very heart of God right throughout Scripture.

From the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, we see that everything God made is good. In the final account of the creation story, humanity is made in God’s image and is called “very good”. All people are created with inherent inalienable rights and dignity.

What we see today, though, in much of the world is that people are not being treated according to their dignity as image-bearers. People living in poverty are having their vulnerability exploited, and it is people with disabilities who are the most vulnerable of all.

People with disabilities are the forgotten poor. But the God of the Bible does not forget. Just as God heard the cries for deliverance of the Israelites in Egypt, God also hears the cries of the most vulnerable today.

Throughout the Old Testament there is the hope of a day when a king will reign with justice in a world which reflects his loving character. Prophets such as Jeremiah and Isaiah point to the promise of a better future which God will instigate through His people.

Jesus described his own ministry by also referring to Isaiah. In Luke 4, Jesus quotes directly from the prophet, saying:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Jesus then goes on to say that this text has been fulfilled in their hearing. He is the embodiment of this good news. A new kingdom has come in which the last will be first and the first, last.

The second part of this three-part series will be continued in our next newsletter.

SCARBOROUGH CHURCH OF CHRIST

The pastor looked across the crowd at Jill’s funeral. So many people who had been impacted by the life of this woman! And yet, she had challenged the church in a way few had. She had a combination of physical and mental health issues which eventually took her from this earth earlier than most.

Her initial contact had been through the church’s community café where she became a regular. The relationships she built there encouraged her to start connecting with this community at the weekly Sunday gatherings. 

Community Gardens

The love and acceptance she experienced at the café and the services helped to strengthen Jill in her journey with Christ, which had begun some years earlier through the ministry of another church.  The pastor remembered how Jill used to love singing the old hymns and was never shy in suggesting that the church should sing more of them!

Jill’s life had been a battle for many years, both in the physical and mental areas. Her faith didn’t remove all those battles, but she found a peace in her commitment to Jesus that was evident to all. Her sisters, both committed Christians, rejoiced in the peace she had found in Christ and in a supportive and loving community.

CRAIG WATSON - A TRIBUTE BY ROB NICHOLLS

This painting by Craig Watson is one of my favourites because it illustrates a very important lesson that Craig taught me. He taught me that enjoying God is one of the most important ways in which we can spend our time. Sadly, Craig prematurely passed away in January this year, and l mourn that loss not only for myself as his friend, but for many people whose lives were impacted by Craig.

Something that stood out at Craig’s funeral were the contributions that Craig had made. And yet, Craig himself considered himself to be more of a ‘taker’ than a ‘giver’.

Craig Watson - Self Portrait

He had lived with schizophrenia since his early 20s and was on a Disability Support Pension. In the eyes of some, that made him a burden on society, and he often spoke of it to me. The reality was different. Craig had encouraged many people with his art, his words and his friendship. Many people spoke of this impact at his funeral; we were surrounded by his art and sang the words he had written.

We have used Craig’s paintings, with his generous approval, on many occasions for Luke14 newsletters and events, including a display at the launch of Luke14 in Brisbane. We’ve had lots of feedback from readers on the beauty of his art and words, and how it has helped them in their relationship with God. Craig did that for me. He was a humble and thoughtful man who enjoyed a nice meal with a friend.

He helped me see the priority of relationships and I will always be grateful to him for his friendship. Craig had intended to spend a week in Melbourne in May and I had looked forward to the time we would have had together. I thank God for Craig’s presence in my life and I know I’m not alone in that. He suffered more than he should have because of his mental illness and the attitudes of others, but he showed grace in the midst of that and made a difference in the lives of many.

WELCOME TO THE TEAM, HELENA MCNEILL

Helena is the newest member of the Luke14 team at CBM. Here, she shares her personal experiences of living with disability in her life…

Ever heard the saying "Never judge a book by its cover"?

Well, that’s what I think happens a lot when people hear the word ‘disability’.

Helena McNeill and family

People get a picture in their head and think they know what it’s all about.

But we all know that if you read the book Gone with the Wind you are not going to get a story about the weather!

In the same way, the word 'disability' is not a story about wheelchairs, therapists, equipment, medication, etc. Of course it can involve all those things, but that’s not what the story is about.

When you get up closer, if you look past the mess, stress and physical or behavioral differences, you discover that it’s a love story - just not the picture-perfect, stereotyped, easily recognisable Hollywood story! This story is about a deep, fierce, sacrificial, crazy love that seems invisible to most.

When you are living in this love story, you get used to doing life with a lump in your throat. It’s a love story that comes with a high price tag for that individual and their family.

That love story crashed into my life 10 years ago. Our twin girls were born at 28 weeks in a blur of crisis and trauma. Life as we knew it changed forever. Jaz came home healthy but Sunny paid a high price for surviving – she has severe cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf, but accesses sound through the miracle of a cochlear implant.

Today I am still learning how to build a beautiful life and love story around disability.

Some chapters are better than others, but I wouldn’t have missed living in this love story for anything. Worth every heartache.

It has been the making of me. The making of love.

"...and the greatest is love."

SUPPORT OUR WORK IN PRAYER

We are always looking for more people who will support us in prayer as individuals or as prayer groups. Please give your prayerful support. Feel free to let us know if you choose to support us in prayer – we’d love to thank you for it.