God is continuously working in each of our lives, simultaneously orchestrating all the details to perfectly align. Sometimes we never get to see the full picture, but occasionally, God pulls back the curtain and lets us see a little bit more. The Joni and Friends’ Christian Fund for the Disabled recently awarded a grant to a local church in Ada, Michigan to help them install an automatic door. When Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church applied for a grant, they expressed their deep desire to make the doors of their church open and accessible to the disability community. It was clear in their application that they had a heart to serve the Lord by loving those affected by disabilities.
Shortly after awarding this grant, we received an email from a leader of Redeemer’s disability ministry, Tim Paauw. This email gave us the unique opportunity to better understand the true impact of our grant and the story behind it. Two years previous, Tim received a phone call from a close family friend as he was leaving his office for the day, “Tim, you need to head straight to the hospital. Your mom has been in a car accident. We don’t know many details yet, but it was on a 55mph road in the country, and it was a head-on collision.”
This one phone call sent Tim and his family on a long and emotional journey as his mother suffered serious medical complications from the accident. He watched his mother’s heart stop more than once, sat beside her as she spent several weeks in a coma needing a ventilator for life-support, and agreed to several necessary surgeries that removed portions of her organs. As time passed, he also engaged in discussions on whether they would need to amputate one of her legs and watched her struggle as she learned to navigate the world using wheelchair ramps, wheels, and buttons.
Through this two-year journey, Tim and his family grew in their faith and had their eyes opened to the challenges faced by the disability community. In new ways, they learned to recognize the truth that God’s mercies are new every day.
Tim’s mom had the rare blessing of keeping both her legs when the odds for an amputation were very high. Today, she is learning to walk with a cane and will need some level of physical support for the foreseeable future.
Tim summarized this journey by saying, “I cannot tell you how much this experience has taught me about the things I have taken for granted, like being able to open a door to church on my own. I never had to consider why handicap parking spaces needed extra room alongside them until this experience. Over the past two years, God has grown in me a heart of compassion and understanding. He has opened my eyes to the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, many who want the same thing I do—to experience God’s mercy and love through weekly church community.”
While Tim wrote this email thanking us for the grant, we couldn’t help but feel like we were the ones blessed to learn how God was working in the details. We hope that this example of God’s caring provision and sustaining grace encourages you as much as it has encouraged us!