The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Newsletter – December 2015

2015 proved to be a very challenging year for me, and I’m pleased the year has ended. This is not to say their were highlights and great blessings along the way.

The year began at Jindabyne, and I thoroughly enjoyed cycling through the Australian alps (what us Aussies call ‘alps’ anyway!). Soon afterwards, I was on a plane to California to attend the Global Access Conference – a gathering of one thousand disability ministry leaders and likeminded people from around the world. The conference was organised by Joni and Friends. This provided an excellent opportunity to reflect upon God’s desire for his church concerning people with disabilities. It was also an opportunity to hear what God is doing through his people around the world in relation to people with disabilities.

This was my first long haul flight, and therefore my first experience of significant amounts of jet lag. Seeing two sunrises within 24hrs, and having a 2nd breakfast really messed with my mind. I had been going for 24hrs when Jeff took me out to breakfast. Here, I was met by a very exuberant waitress with a broad American accent asking me, “Howya doin’?” In hindsight, I would’ve liked to answered, “I’m half past dead… How y’ol doin’?” 15hrs in an airborne tin can, and I’m not as quick as I usually am!

This was also my first time in the U.S., and the difference in culture came as quite a shock. Especially when I went venturing off in an RV. I have to say, most people were hospitable, and would do anything to help you out. There also seemed to be a greater awareness of the needs of people with disabilities. However, other things like having to prepay for petrol, or just finding food that hadn’t been processed to within an inch of  its life added a lot of frustration. My choice of method to go sight-seeing was to hire an RV. I had hired camper vans in New Zealand, and a great old time. So I just figured what works in New Zealand would work in the U.S.. This proved to be untrue. Campsites were few and far between, and were typically around the $US40 mark. Then there was the RV itself – 25ft long, 12ft high, 10ft wide weighing in at 5.5tonne. In Australia, I would’ve needed a medium-rigid license to drive it! I have no interest in driving something of that size on public roads again. I would have been better off in a car and staying in hotels – lesson learned!

I have to also say I’m very thankful to Jeff and Kathi McNair who opened their home to me, and let me hang around when things weren’t going to plan. This provided me with the opportunity to see Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon, two of the most amazing places I have been to. Especially the Grand Canyon where the rim was laden with snow. It provided such a contrast with the desolate canyon below.

All this took place while I was in the middle of writing a thesis. Late 2014 I began discussing with my college the possibility of doing a research masters. As I didn’t yet have a enough credit points, I agreed to write a Hebrew Exegesis paper on Genesis 3:16-19 discussing whether or not disability was a direct result of The Fall. Despite the rushed job at the end, I managed to obtain a distinction. I was most pleased with this result as I did not do Hebrew exegesis as part of my degree. I had only studied the language. The result was also impressive as I was challenging some long held theological assumptions. So in 2016 I plan to commence my research masters looking at the place of disability in salvation history. This should keep me going for a few years.

Work has also been challenging as I have done a lot of work looking at the place of disability in society. It’s not pretty! I’ve researched the issue of young people with disabilities living in aged care facilities which exposed me to a host of issues I was previously unaware of. I have also written book reviews on Megan Best’s book, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” which, in part, looked at the impact reproductive technologies are having in relation to disability; and Michael Oliver’s book, “The New Politics of Disablement” which looks at where our modern concept of disability has come from, and where it is going. Late in the year, I had the opportunity to think about and prepare a paper on “Church Leadership, Disability, and the Glory of God” which has served to demonstrate how the inclusion of disability requires robust theology, and the willingness to apply it. The publication of these works are still pending.

Church Services at Allambie Heights Cerebral Palsy Alliance continue, although not as frequently with me being overseas, and writing my thesis. Nonetheless, we have managed to look at King David in the Old Testament, and the kind of faith he had, and the Miracles of Jesus, and what they have to tell us about him. It was also a shock to learn of Pat’s sudden death this year. Pat had been coming from the beginning, and had always made her presence known in one way or another. She is missed.

My cycling renascence continues to be a blessing, and a great release for my frustrations. As I said at my 40th birthday party, I’m glad to be 40 years old, and still able to act half my age. There was an addition to my trike collection this year with an Ice Full Fat trike which I’ve dubbed, “The Monster”. With 26×4” tires on all 3 wheels, it’s not hard to see why. As much as I’ve been impressed with the versatility of the trike, it’s been an ongoing project to achieve the purpose for which it was bought – to go off road. It is designed for this, but again, I need to go and push the limits as I do!

I’m certain 2016 will shape up to be a very interesting year, filled with it’s frustrations and blessings. I’m very much looking forward to delving deep into Scripture yet again, and coming up with insights from a disability perspective.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments