“In this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, host Larry Gifford introduces you to Parkinson’s advocate Christine Jeyachandran. Christine is an Australian living in Peru with her family. They met in Japan at the World Parkinson Congress where she was a finalist in the video competition. Her video tracked her journey to learn gymnastics with PD and ultimately achieve a handstand. Now Christine brings hope, urgency and education to her Parkinson’s advocacy through her website and videos at www.handstandforparkinsons.com “
Please take the time to listen. Several have said they appreciated it.
Welcome to my blog those who are new. It is nice to have you journeying with me. I hope you enjoy or learn something here.
This is a newsletter I wrote recently in Spanish. I won’t translate it all but basically I am promoting everything that is happening in Actívate, the Parkinson’s group I created. Well, not much has happened because of Lockdown but nonetheless little things should be celebrated.
I studied community development and one thing you learn is you need to share the successes and promote your group in an ongoing way. It is nice for the participants to get mentioned and of course upcoming events and opportunities for their involvement in research are advertised.
I have included also for the Spanish speakers. If you have questions I can answer them and gradually I will tell these stories too in English.
Disability in Mission – the Churches Hidden Treasure, Edited by David C Deuel and Nathan G John
“Should you be going back to the mission field, considering your condition?” This is the question often asked of me. I was diagnosed 6 years ago on the mission field with Parkinson’s Disease at the premature age of 37. So when I found this book, I’d already been exploring its themes. But new insights came page by page through the wisdom and experience of the writers.
The point of the book is illustrated by the true story of a deacon, in the early church, burned to death because of his actions.
“Lawrence …. was ordered to bring the treasures of the church before the emperor. He collected all the poor, the sick, the lame, the elderly and disabled people he could find. Took them to the emperor and said ‘See, here are the treasures of the Church’.
The book links Biblical examples of weakness and treasure. God gives Paul strength to shine in darkness to display the face of Christ. Likewise, God says, “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in dark places, so that you may know that I am the LORD” (Isa 45). Paul celebrates his weakness and fragility, and the stories of the book reveal how God is glorified in the weaknesses of other humble servants.
Joni Ereckson Tada, who writes the forward, knows firsthand the ministry God brought to her because of her quadriplegia. Not easy but fruitful. The previously untold stories in the book reflect that ‘the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable’ (1 Cor 12:22). Sadly, we don’t often value every part of the body of Christ. As Nathan Johns writes:
“Often society assumes the worst about people with disabilities. They are considered as weak. Yet each of the powerful testimonies here affirms how God chooses weak people, equips them powerfully by his grace, and works through them” (and) “creatively beyond what we could imagine”.
We are all made in God’s image, each of us is loved by God and is used for his purpose.
Without giving away all the stories nor Bible references, I liked the story of a down syndrome child born to missionaries in Indonesia. In this society, and many others, they believe that a disability is the result of a curse, generational sin, or divine judgement. This child became an example of hope. They saw how this child with downs was loved and encouraged to reach her full potential, and it gave local mothers hope for their children who were different. The position of the child’s mother changed as her suffering meant “Indonesians now perceived me as being more approachable….shared weakness was like a bridge”. The book tells of people watching disabled persons or their carers and getting new perspectives on their own situation. Even being present and united in weakness can encourage others and challenge the status quo. Others’ lives have changed completely like the editor Nathan John’s, whose daughter’s disability, inspired him to coordinate community disability services all over India.
Many disabled people serve God by teaching and preaching, others vocationally and others as disability advocates. Seeing a person worshipping God in spite of their problems shows their love for God, and people start to ask questions like: “If God can give joy to the quadriplegic then I want to know more” (of Joni Erekcon Tada). Many know that life is easier in the west and think ‘yet they are here serving my people’. This speaks volumes.
God used beatings, stonings, shipwrecks and imprisonment and a thorn in Paul’s side to keep him humble and dependent on him. All in missions need to depend on God whatever the situation.
On a practical side, when disability is present we need to evaluate carefully on a case by case basis the access to needed support services, regarding health or emotional services and practicalities. Extra costs don’t need to prevent service, but prayer is needed. My mission has evaluated my situation and approved me for service. So I’m excited to be back in Peru and love reaching out to people I’d never have thought to serve.
My disease has given me a chance to speak in many meetings and churches and my videos that tell my story have been seen by thousands of people, many who say ‘you are inspiring’.
I’m just following God’s call and I’m blown away as I see how God turns weakness to his strength. It’s not easy but I hope others inspired by the book will serve God, disabled or not. I loved the book and highly recommend it to anyone even if you don’t know disabled people. I pray it touches you as it did me.
Christine Jeyachandran serves with her husband David and kids in Peru with student and women’s ministry and more recently with people with Parkinson’s Disease. Here video Handstand for Parkinson’s was a finalist for the World Parkinson’s Congress video competition:
This is a poem I wrote that many have asked me to share. It is inspired by “The upside-Down Kingdom” by Cheryl Stinchcomb which appears in the new book “Disability in Ministry” by D Deuel and Nathan John. It is a great book which I’ll be reviewing soon on the blog.
Downside up God The world loves the healthy and strong, but the Bible teaches that God gives strength to the weak. The world loves the beautiful, but the Bible says that God looks at the heart. The world loves the athletic and fast ones, but the Bible teaches that training in Godliness is of more value.
The world loves the happy and lucky, but the Bible says God is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. The world loves the good and wise, but the Bible teaches that no one is good and wisdom begins with the fear of God. The world loves those who appear powerful and have it together, but the Bible says to boast about our weaknesses so God’s power shines through us.
The world loves the comforts of life, but the Bible says comfort others with the comfort you’ve received in your suffering. The world loves money and thinks it will solve all our problems, but the Bible teaches us to be content in every circumstance, with little or a lot. The world loves to be in control but the Bible says to surrender to a loving God
The world loves the powerful, but the Bible says God blesses the meek. The world loves to define our values, but the Bible teaches that we are in the world but not of the world. Choose today who you will serve, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Mathew 5: 5, 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10, 1 Tim 4 :8, 1 Samuel 6:7, Phil 4:12, 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7, 2 Corinthians 12: 9 -10, 2 Corinthians 4, John 17:14-19, Joshua 24:15