Monday, August 22, 2005

Book Recommendation

I am about halfway through a book that my mom just ordered for me called, "Conversations With the Voiceless: Finding God's Love in Life's Hardest Questions," by John Wessells.

The book is available through Amazon for just over ten dollars.

The author and his wife, Gail, have a ministry where they travel to various brain trauma hospitals around the country and they sing, pray, read Scripture, and preach the gospel to patients with severe head injuries, brain damage, and in comas.

The stories are inspiring, but even for those without the fairy-tale endings, the book hits home the hopeful truth that everyone has a purpose, that God loves even those who are helpless, and that non-verbal does not mean non-existent.

My favorite story comes early on where patients who were in comas, later revive, only to tell John that they received Christ as their Lord and Savior while they were in their comas - hearing every word he spoke to them!

Here is a review from Publisher's Weekly:

Starred Review. Wessells spends his days praying and singing worship songs for head trauma patients in comas, something he admits may seem frivolous. He makes the case that these people and their families are among "the least of these" for whom Jesus cares deeply. And his stories are powerful. He talks about a young man who made a decision to follow Christ while in a comatose state. He tells of sharing his faith with Christine Busalacchi before her father got permission to remove her feeding tube and she starved to death—how the girl neurologists described as being "in a persistent vegetative state" had waved to him, smiled and responded to praise music. But more importantly, Wessells discusses the difficult questions that a ministry like his uncovers. Why are some lives cut short? Why do some patients recover, while others' bodies shrivel as their minds slowly lose control? Wessells reassures readers that it's okay to ask questions and not have answers—and that, no matter what, God's love abounds. These are lessons he learned not only through his ministry but also through the loss of his young son to cancer. This is a rare book that offers hope and comfort without ignoring or sugarcoating the painful realities that families of head trauma patients face.

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Donna Yeatman Brown

I was at a Sister Kenny clinic this morning getting some physical therapy done on a minor neck injury (compliments of the gym...proof I never should have attempted rigerous exercise!) On the wall in the waiting room was a beautiful oil painting of a frozen-over river in the wintertime. Next to the paining was a small bio of the artist. Here is what it said:

Donna Yeatman Brown
Council Bluffs, IA

Disabled since birth, Donna grasps paintbrushes between her elbows where her arms stop. Her disability affected both legs, also requiring her to use an artificial limb. She is married, has three daughters and does all her own cooking, cleaming, and shopping, drives a car, and does volunteer work for schools and Girl Scouts.

I was amazed. I presume Donna's painting was on the wall because she must have been enrolled in the Sister Kenny rehabilitation treatment program. Here is some history behind the program:

Did you know that Sister Kenny was not a nun? Elizabeth Kenny was born in Australia in 1880. She was trained as an army nurse and treated the sick for 31 years in the bushlands of Australia. She acquired the title "Sister" -- used in British countries for "nurse."

In 1911, when she encountered her first case of polio, Sister Kenny was unaware of conventional polio treatment -- immobilizing the affected muscles with splints. Instead, she used common sense and her understanding of anatomy to treat the symptoms of the disease. Sister Kenny applied moist hotpacks to help loosen muscles, relieve pain, and enable limbs to be moved, stretched, and strengthened. The theory of her treatment was muscle "re-education" -- the retraining of muscles so that they could function again.

In 1940, Sister Kenny traveled to the United States and eventually to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where, in 1942, the Sister Kenny Institute was established. Sister Kenny's pioneering principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy. Today, Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services is one of the premier rehabilitation centers in the country, known for its progressive and innovative vision.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

For the Least of These

Several months ago, the Disability Ministry at my church held a luncheon for all of the families involved. One of the fathers led us in a devotional and I was very intrigued with his message. This blog is a summation of his thoughts along with some extended thoughts of my own.

His observation was simply that one of the passages where Jesus heals a man who cannot walk, after the people go to Jesus and ask him to heal the man, Jesus, interestingly, does not say, “Take me to him.” But instead, Jesus says to the people, “Bring him to me.” You see the point – Jesus required faith, not just from the one who was sick, but from those asking for the healing on his behalf. Jesus made them do some of the work. Jesus didn’t expect crippled men to hobble over to him – he expected others to take notice and bring these people to Him.

After mulling this over for a few weeks, I decided to take an even closer look. I perused all four Gospels and read every passage that mentions Jesus healing the sick. (Ironically, Luke, the physician, had the least to say about this topic than all four of them).

The results were somewhat stunning. In nearly every case that dealt with a person who was unable to walk or speak – healthy people were a key component to the story. Look at the language of some of these verses in particular.

Matthew 9:2: Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.

Note that it was “their” faith that touched Jesus – not the faith of the paralytic himself!

Matthew 15:30 says: Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

Mark 2:3-5 is probably the most radical example: Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Look at the joy and importunacy involved in this descriptions: Mark 6:55: They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And Mark 7:32: There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. Mark 8:22 echoes the same sentiment: They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.

There are many other examples: Matthew 8:5; Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:32; Matthew 17:16-17; Mark 9:17,20, Mark 10:46-52; Luke 4:40; Luke 5:17.

John 5:2-7 is a unique situation and yet stresses the same point.

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

This is amazing to me. You would think one person in thirty-eight years would lend the poor guy a hand. It makes me wonder what would have been his fate should he never have run into Christ.

This brings us, of course, to application. How does the church today fit into this context? What is the Church doing for its sick and needy today? Are we, like the New Testament believers, running to find the sick and begging Christ to heal them?

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I have seen a couple online news headlines about the new flick "Murderball" and haven't paid any attention to it, figuring it was just another silly horror movie remake. Turns out, the film is a documentary about a quadriplegic rugby team that competes in the Para-Olympics. Several of the stars of the film were being interviewed on Larry King Live this evening and it was very inspiring. I was especially encouraged when King questioned them all about Stem Cell Research. None of them seemed too interested, and in fact, several of them said they wouldn't even be in line should a cure even be discovered. King seemed incredulous, but they insisted they were sincere, saying that there lives have been more accomplished and fulfilling since being in a wheel chair than they were when able bodied. Here are a few links of interest:

Movie Reviews

View the Trailer

Rolling Stone Magazine Movie Review

To Request the Film in a Theatre Near You

Larry King Live Appearance

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