Naoemi’s Story

‘This life is an opportunity
This life is to serve God
Don’t waste what God has given
This life must be a blessing’

I am the ninth child in a family of 10 children. I grew up in a small city in Indonesia called Magelang.

When I was young, I was taken to hospital for surgery on my backbones. After being checked, the doctor informed my family that such surgery would do further damage to my health problems. I grew up learning that my impairment was not healed. Some people said that I was cursed or that my parents had sinned.

I did not ask for any healing as I experienced God touch my soul and my mind. I was initially mad and disappointed but as time passed and I experienced many moments in life which showed me that my impairment was ‘allowed’ to happen so that God is glorified in my life and the life of others. I use the term ‘allow’ as John said in John 9:3, He allowed it happens in my so that the works of God revealed. I also found reassurance in this verse from Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

My childhood dream was to be a teacher but my application was rejected. I was told that, ‘Your physical disorder would frighten the kids and people may dislike a teacher like you.’ I left my home town in Central Java to look for a job and to seek consolation from this heartbreaking explanation.

I have travelled more and farther than my siblings who are not disabled. I went to Jakarta, Lampung and I have experiences of riding on rickshaw, motorcycle, train, bus, airplane… there is no transportation means I have not used.

In Jakarta after experiencing some struggles, I managed to get an administrative job in a printing media company. I rebuilt my devastated confidence because my boss and colleagues treated me well. They even welcomed my talents in singing, extending prayers and sharing my life’s stories as testimonies to strengthen other staff when they felt down or faced problems.

I have experienced different types of jobs and feel that I am a capable person, such confidence came out from my faith that God accompanied me and it should be an example for other persons with disability. I feel pity to people who still look down to persons like me as it shows that they have problem in their perception and understanding so that they cannot respect and value people like me. It is not my issue, it is theirs.

I returned home several years ago to take care of my elderly sister and my parents’ home, which is also used as a satellite church. I clean it up for the Sunday service. About 10 or 20 people normally come to church at my home every Sunday. I also volunteer myself to serve as the Bible study facilitator in the weekly bible study. I know I may have limited understanding of the Bible but I set myself to be a servant to God.

During COVID-19, I attend online church service but still look out for one or two church members who are old or do not have devices, and share my phone to enjoy the online service.

They include me, not because I am a person with disability, but because I have something to contribute. The situation is a lot better now compared to my childhood time when people talked badly about my condition, but I do not want to talk about it as I have forgiven them and do not want to feed my brain with bad thoughts. I rather focus on good things that happen in my life as I know God loves me.

I recently reflected that the church now has wider attention and acceptance of people with disability. It gives me bigger hope that people with disability feel no fear to participate and contribute like other people. I have a plan to widen my massage therapy service by applying for government permission to use my home as therapy centre and employ other persons with disabilities so that they have income.

John 14:13 and 18 say ‘whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.’

It speaks to me throughout my life and even now during COVID-19 as my business plans are on hold. I don’t have any income for more than two months, as there have been no requests for my massage therapy service.

A church member who does not attend for quite some time visited the other day and told me that she remembered me when she had been praying, and shared an amount of money I can use to survive.

We are obliged to work and to help other human beings. People have to help each other with whatever they have. They can support by providing comfort through encouraging words, like what I do a lot with my friends and neighbours, as well as through actions or aid when they are able. This is justice and inclusion. We are protected by salvation so that we have to use it for loving anyone without distinctions on his or her condition.

Be encouraged by more stories of life, faith and disability.