Michael’s Story

Stories | August 28, 2020

Lord, I lift to you all persons with disabilities. Give them additional strength. I pray that they will trust in you and be strong. Lord, I pray that the carers of persons with disabilities will have the patience and knowledge on how to encourage them. I lift all these to you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.   

I was born in Maasin, in the Philippines, prematurely at six months. My parents told me that after two months in hospital in an incubator, they observed that something is wrong with my eyes. They took me to a specialist, who diagnosed that I have congenital cataract. I underwent an operation and my situation somehow improved.

However, after several years, my left eye became blind. I underwent another operation and my sight improved somehow. After a few years, my right eye became blind.

My family introduced me to our Lord and His ways, [and] they taught me about values and good conduct. Centre to my heart are the values taught by my parents, church and the bible.

When I was in elementary [school], our church invited kids who wanted to be altar servers. The idea of serving in the church made me feel good inside.

But the church members did not accept me right away. They said that I may cause accidents or break things in the church. I brushed it off and found other ways to serve God. I talked to a priest, who was also a station manager of a church radio. I told him that I want to serve and he accepted me. He even taught me various processes in the church.

From first grade until now, only my left eye can partly see. When I was in elementary [school], I can only see large prints. My mother would transfer notes and lectures by classmates, and write bigger letters in my notebook so I could read the lessons.

When I was younger, I had doubts in God. I was bullied my entire elementary years because of my visual impairment. There were students who punched me, hit my head, physically hurt me. I worked twice as much as everybody else because of my impairment.

The bullying did not end with the students – I was also bullied by my teachers. My teachers did not know much about disability and could not believe that a person with disability can be an honour student.

I was discriminated [against] – instead of encouragement, they told me it will be difficult for me to get a higher level of education. They said I will find it difficult to have a job because employers will not accept a person with disability.

I was confused and hurt at the same time, still I told myself I will study and get past this. I will show them that my impairment will not hinder me from going after my dreams.

I asked God ‘why is this happening to me?’ but these thoughts were replaced by ‘stay strong’ and ‘do not lose hope.’

If I listen to other people, I will get weak. I try to think positive that through my hard work and God’s help, I will achieve my dreams.

I was able to finish elementary school, alternative learning in high school and finally [a] Business Administration major in Marketing Management in college.

When I was in college, although they were not completely aware about disability, they tried to understand me and accommodate my needs. They made large print exams, they provided soft copies of their lectures.

They did that until I was able to finish my studies. I overcame every obstacle because of God and my parents. I [would] not be where I am today without God, I do not think I could have attained my achievements.

I learned to work hard and persevere. I learned to show people that I have capabilities and dreams. I became an instrument to other people. I inspire and encourage those who are losing hope. I feel that God allowed this to happen for a bigger purpose. A purpose that is bigger than myself.

I used to pray for God to heal me – today I ask God to spare my other eye from being totally blind. God has been faithful. The doctor told me the condition of my other eye is okay and I pray that whatever is left of my vision will not decline.

Last year, I went back to the first church that did not accept me. They gave me the opportunity to teach kids who also want to serve the church. I think they saw my sincerity to take part in church activities.

I moved on to serve in the cathedral. Initially there were priests who were concerned that a person with visual impairment will serve – however my fellow servers were quick to welcome me, they gave me a chance.

They encouraged me to become a lay minister. I want to be a Bible preacher because it tells us so many stories about how Jesus included persons with disabilities. I want to inspire people through it.

Organisations like CBM and Edmund Rice have greatly influenced the church’s acceptance of persons with disabilities through the years. Members are now more aware of the rights of persons with disabilities.

I feel like Jesus, through the Bible, tells us to be inclusive. There are many stories in the Bible where in Jesus interacted with persons with disabilities. Many times, he did not really assess them but he asked them “What do you want from me?” He thinks that they are part of society.

I have always held on to Psalm 91. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

Personally, it means that Lord will shelter me through whatever obstacle or discrimination that I face.

Pray with Michael

Lord, I lift to you all persons with disabilities. Give them additional strength. I pray that they will trust in you and be strong. Lord, I pray that the carers of persons with disabilities will have the patience and knowledge on how to encourage them. I lift all these to you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.    

Lord, we pray for our church and communities to be enlightened so that they can be inclusive of people with disabilities…that they can become members of the church and community…that they can see their capabilities and talents. Lord, grant understanding among these people, including the leaders of our church and country so that we can meet our needs and our rights. I lift all these to you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.   

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