Tuesday 21 October 2008

Horizons of Hope

This is not a new book, but certainly not one that should be 'written off' - just like the many people whose stories fill it. This is a book about disability. Subtitled 'Reality in Disability' it tells the stories of various Christians who struggle daily with disability, but throughout the struggle find that it is only by trusting in God's sovereign purposes that they are carried through. Brian Edwards describes his wife's physical battle with rheumatoid arthritis, the ups and down of her spiritual life throughout the years of living with such a debilitating disease and his own difficulties trying to balance life as a busy pastor with life as his wife's carer. His honesty is heart-warming and their spiritual testimony profitable. We also read of the preacher who had his larynx removed, the soldier who survived a firefight only to have his leg amputated, a teenager with cystic fibrosis and others who spent most of their lives in institutions and then struggled with the adjustments of living independently. One chapter, written by a pastor who was privileged to have a group of people with learning disablilities in his congregation should be read by all pastors, elders and church members. He gives sensitive advice on some of the difficulties he encountered but also the many pleasures of pastoring this group of people... 'We certainly receive from them as much as we give, and we have discovered that if they are different from the rest of us, it is not their learning disabilities that sets them apart so much as certain qualities they possess that many of us find very humbling and challenging'. Brian Edwards also adds a very practical chapter on how those of us that are more able-bodied can be sensitive to the needs of the less-able and particularly those that use wheelchairs.
As an ex-Occupational Therapist this is a subject close to my heart and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who finds it hard to 'know what to say' when they come face to face with someone with a disability. Always remember, they have feelings like you.
Horizons of Hope, edited by Brian Edwards, published by Day One, £8

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