The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Ministries

The greatest passion Jason has is the kingdom of God – seeing people come to faith in Jesus and growing in their knowledge of him. Here, Jason tells how he has become involved in God’s work.

Contents

An introductory word

The Student’s Desk

The Spastic Centre, Allambie Heights

Speaking

Pastoral Support to people with disabilities and those who care for them

An introductory word

While I am studying at present with the view of going into ministry, I am very much involved in ministry now. Two things I am conscious of is the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5, 9), and are God-centred view of ministry. I reject the notion that some Christians are in ministry, and some are not. Each of us as Christians have a place in instruction, encouraging and rebuking others as we grow in the love and knowledge of Christ. This is made clear with a God-centred view of ministry. There seems to be a notion in the church that ministry is something WE do, and we hope and pray God will jump on our bandwagon and bless what WE’RE doing. I certainly use to think along such lines. However, I’ve since learned that ministry is about us jumping on God’s bandwagon! And guess what? God doesn’t require a theological degree for people to do so. God is already at work in the world bringing people into his kingdom. He doesn’t need our help to do so. But out of his grace and mercy, in wanting to pursue a relationship with us, he invites us to be part of what HE is doing. Having humbled ourselves to see what God is doing, we see something of the wonder of who God is, and who we are. So I regard the ministries I’m involved with not something that I’m doing, but something that God is doing, and I am privileged to be a witness to. It is my hope that my involvement in God’s work will expand in the future.

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The Student’s Desk

This ministry began as a segment in my church magazine, telling the rest of my church of my progress it my theological studies and ministry. When the magazine stopped, The Student’s Desk kept going, with 2 editions each year, mostly via email with a half-dozen people on a snail mail list. I’ve published websites before, but they were difficult to maintain, and pretty daggy to look at. Just over 12 months ago, I became heavily convicted once more to start a website. While travelling through Central Australia, The Student’s Desk on Location was born as I sent updates back home via email. I found they were well received, and my readership was being added to as I met people along the way. People were actually enjoying what they were reading for its own worth. So if such was my ability to write, I really should do so on issues far more important than running about the country sides!

So, the Student’s Desk is now a website on www.wordpress.com which makes the site very easy to maintain. On it I’ll be publishing my college essays (the ones that are worth publishing!), teaching articles, devotions, travelogues, and newsletters. It’s a ministry I’m hoping will continue. I have provided facilities so people can subscribe free of charge, and receive notification of updates via email. I’m hoping my online readership will grow, so more people will be encouraged in their Christian faith.

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The Spastic Centre, Allambie Heights

I became involved with this ministry 8th June, 2002, and was given 8 severely disabled people to start church services, and not much else. The Spastic Centre has a hostel for people with severe cerebral palsy, much like a nursing home. All of the people there are in wheelchairs, and many of them have severe communication difficulties. Normally I get around 10 people, usually of  retirement age. Of that number, 1 person can speak fluently, 4 have slurred speech requiring immense concentration to listen to, and the rest either can’t or don’t talk. While none of the residents have intellectual disabilities, they haven’t been given the same opportunities to grow and develop as most people. They can only handle small amounts of information, and the way they relate to the world is very different from what you may expect. What they regard as important, I may not, and visa-verse. So Bible presentations need to be simple and short, and I need to work hard at meeting them where they’re at. Just because I think something isn’t important doesn’t mean it is! I find myself stirred by the presentation in the gospels of Jesus capability to meet with people where they were at, and address their concerns. What a challenge to us who wish to proclaim his Gospel! Due to all these characteristics, it can make for some interesting church services.

As I have cerebral palsy myself, to run the services myself would simply be too much. So I have people from my own church volunteer to help with setting up, packing up, writing down prayer points and reading. When I became involved with this ministry, I had no idea what to do with these people. It’s not like this ministry came with a manual! (Apart from the Bible of course). Initially I had hoped to run Bible studies. But it soon became obvious that wasn’t going to work! Over time, it’s evolved into the format we have today starting with a Psalm followed by a prayer, Bible reading, talk, then a time of open prayer. I usually use 2 recorded hymns throughout the service, and love to have live music when I can get it. The whole service is around 1hr long with open prayer taking the most time. Getting prayer points from people with their various communication difficulties can be very frustrating, but persistence pays.

I have no idea what these people get out of these church services. However, I do know when I take a break, my presence is missed, and they’re forever asking “When’s Jason coming?” which I take to be a great complement. I’m not sure what will end up being achieved either. But I consider the goal of any ministry is the vision in Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'” Without pulling apart everything in those verses, the final day in history will involve all believers, from all walks of life meeting as one people worshiping God. If in any ministry people can gather together and offer thanks and praise to God, then that ministry is achieving its goal. This has certainly been the achievement of these church services.

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Speaking

This is not a predominate ministry that I’m involved with, but it is one I’m hoping will grow despite my communication difficulties. I’m personally encouraged by David Ring who also has cerebral palsy affecting his speech. While I don’t necessarily approve of his use of Scripture or style of preaching, his dogged determination has seen him become a successful evangelist in the USA despite people discouraging him of taking such a direction. Granted it is not possible to understand every single word that David says, there is no mistaking the point that is being made! In comparison, I dare not count the number of times I have sat under the teaching of a perfectly articulate speaker, and I haven’t a clue what they are on about. And I’m the one with the communication problem! Give me a break! Hobby horses aside, it is my prayer then in my own style, and between the frequently slurred words that my hearers will be in no doubt as to the point I’m making.

I have in the past spoken at schools, disability camps, and churches. Usually topics include understanding disability from then context of Scripture; speaking from personal experiences of being someone who’s a Christian and has a disability; or just plain teaching the Bible, which The Student’s Desk website is also about.

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Pastoral Support to people with disabilities and those who care for them

This is something I’m doing only on a small scale at present, but like the other ministries I’m involved with, I’m hoping will grow.

Understanding disability in the context of a loving God is one of the biggest challenges I face. Not so much personally, but with those who are less able then I, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. As disabled as I may be, cerebral palsy has not prevented me from what I’ve set out to do. For me, it’s a process of working out the best way around the difficulties, and getting on with life. For others, there just is no getting around the difficulties.

One of the biggest problems in western culture is our obsession with ability. We measure our worth by what we can do. This obsession even infiltrates the disability community with slogans like “Think ability, not disability”. It’s pathetic! The reality is there are people with no constructive ability, and within such an ability obsessed culture they can’t help but feel WORTHLESS!

In response, I emphasise people’s relationships. That people, no matter what disability they have, or the severity of their disability, at some point they are relational. As some point they are going to respond to something outside of themselves. This may take more work then others to find out what they respond to, but I would expect everyone must respond to something. The challenge is to find out what they respond to, and if it’s something they celebrate and in praiseworthy of God, celebrate it unto God! Especially when it comes to God. God created humanity to be in relationship with himself. This is what it means to be human! Whether we acknowledge God, as revealed in the Bible, or not, we are in relationship with God.

Therefore, providing pastoral support may involve exploring issues related to life experience. It may involve exploring practical solutions around difficulties. Or, at a very basic level, it may simply involve provide Christian fellowship to those who otherwise don’t get it.

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