The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Testimony

Testimony: Life with Jesus…

Recently I had the privilege and honour of giving my testimony at a men’s breakfast hosted by Forster-Tuncurry Presbyterian Church while on college mission. Below is one of the transcripts drafted during preparation. While my story is fully explained in ‘Who is Jason Forbes‘, this presentation is more focussed on life with Jesus as a man with cerebral palsy.


Hello, my name is Jason and I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about who I am, my relationship with Jesus, and how I’ve ended up talking to you today.

In case you haven’t noticed already, there is something different about me. I have a disability known as cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body. Cerebral palsy is a bit like having a credit card – I don’t leave home without it. Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen, and normally this happens at birth, although it can happen latter in life, for example, as a result of a drowning accident. Cerebral palsy affects people in a variety of ways from leaving the person with a slight limp, to being confined to a wheelchair, with no speech, unable to do anything. Mental disabilities can also be associated with cerebral palsy. So in the scheme of things, I’m quite able. My cerebral palsy occurred at birth and affects my speech and movement. So people need to listen more carefully, and I need to give myself more time to do things.

Cerebral palsy affects the way I live. I can’t write with a pen, or do up buttons or shoe laces. So wearing a suit and tie just isn’t going to happen. It also makes things like shopping more interesting. You know how it is guys, you go into a shop, you can’t find what you want, despite the fact it’s directly in front of you. So I ask someone. They can’t understand, so they ask me to write it down. They’re not going to understand that either!

However, I’m still able to drive a car, ride a 3-wheeled push-bike, and do things that most people with common sense wouldn’t do.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a belief in God. I was brought up in the Catholic Church in what I guess is a typical Australian Catholic family in the sense that you go to church, tick the box, and not do anything “religious” for the rest of the week; unless it involved football. While I reject Catholicism now, for reason’s I’ll explain in a moment, I’m still indebted to my Catholic upbringing. I learned that God was personal. That he was merciful. That he was approachable. So while my theology was muddled, I had this sense of a personal relationship with God.

But things began to change in my teens – as they do! I began making friends with Christians outside the Catholic Church, and they had a real passion for Jesus, and they knew heaps about him. Now, up to this point, I had been told that the Catholic Church was the only true church. But how could people outside the true church know so much about Jesus? It didn’t make sense. So an uneasy feeling began to grow. You know that feeling you get when something isn’t quite right? So at age 18, I left the Catholic Church, and I really began to wonder, what was the right way to God?

About 6 months latter, I had a very distinct thought enter my mind. I don’t know if I recently heard a song or what. But this was the thought: Jesus died for my death, for my sins, in my place. I knew at that moment, I was right with God. The right way to God was Jesus. Not this church or that church. Not this religion or that religion. You want to get to God? You got to deal with Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ” (John 14:6). Much later, I learned the importance of Jesus resurrection as he is the one who is to deliver me from a world of sin and decay.

Now, I didn’t know much at the time, but I figured if Jesus is the only way to God, I needed to be learning about Jesus from the Bible. I needed to be going to a church that taught the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible. So I starting going to Gosford Presbyterian Church. 16 years latter, I’m still there. Save the maths, I’m 35.

In that time, I’ve grown allot. I got to the point where I thought if God has entrusted me with a mind, I better use it to understand his Bible better, and to tell others about Jesus, and how much God loves them. So I took myself off to Bible college, and now here I am, telling you about Jesus.

So what difference does Jesus make in my life? The older I get, the more aware I become of suffering and of struggle. Not just because of disability and natural disasters and the like. But people suffer and struggle in all different of ways, for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. Sometimes they may simply be the typical Aussie battler. It’s all suffering. It’s all struggle.

I’ve also become aware of how people try to escape from their suffering and struggle. I do the same! We invest time and effort in having fun, buying new toys, making money, having experiences, relationships. And to some extent, it works. The big one for me is technology. I love technology. I think we’re living in a very exciting time as far as technology goes. Technology has relieved so much of my struggle. But have you noticed it’s never enough? You’re always buying more. Like, if you buy the latest phone you’re really cool, but if you’re still using it 2 years later you’re just a dag? If this stuff doesn’t get us through this life, what makes us think it’s any good for eternal life?

I’ve certainly become aware of my own struggles. I struggle physically. I went to use an ATM one day. By the time I had got out of my car, someone else had pulled up, jumped out of their car, made their withdrawal, jumped back in their car and taken off. The time and effort it takes me to do something is immense. I struggle emotionally. I find myself in a world where if you have a significant disability, you’re pushed to one side and not expected to contribute. Sadly, some parts of the church are the same. Not all parts, but some. This is hard to take when you’ve worked so hard, for so long to prove yourself. IT HURTS!!! But, I think it’s true to say I don’t suffer spiritually. I don’t suffer spiritually, because I know I’m right with God, forgiven and accepted. And this God says to me, “I want you to be part of what I’m doing. I want you to be part of bringing people back to me. In fact, bring along your speech impairment and all your other impairments and struggles, we can use them too.” The physical and emotional struggles are still there, and the hurt is real, and I certainly have my bad days when I feel intense sadness, bitterness and anger. But because of Jesus, I don’t merely escape my struggle and all the hurt that goes with it. I can work through overcome those struggles. Because of Jesus, I have a reason to get up in the morning. Because of Jesus, I have a basis for living that will never change, and the things I do for Jesus will last into eternity. That’s the difference Jesus makes.

You’ve now heard something about my story. What about your story? Where does Jesus fit in to your story? We’re going to hear a lot of important stuff this mornings. Don’t go home and forget about it. Do something about it! Talk to a friend. Do some reading into who Jesus is. Find out why people are following Jesus. Even become a follower of Jesus yourself. Whatever you do, do something about Jesus!

4 Comments »

  1. Thanks for posting this Jason. Your daily life is an ongoing testimony to the grace of Christ in your life, and it’s great to read it in this form.

    Comment by Ian Smith | April 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. G’day Jason,
    Thanks for sharing your testimony. A couple of guys from our Church (Taree Pressies) were at the Forster breakfast and found your testimony both encouraging and challenging. We are currently thinking through how we as a church include people with disabilities, in particular how we encourage them to serve.
    May God bless you in your studies and future ministry.
    Your brother in Christ
    Paul Harris

    Comment by Paul Harris | April 1, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the comments, both of you. Paul, it is my prayer that God would enable his people to renounce the world’s standards, and embrace the humanity found in each person no matter how distorted it may be, in the ministry of reconciliation that God has entrusted to us in Christ. Praise God he has placed this on your heart.

    Comment by Jason | April 1, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi Jason Thanks for your input in the weekend adult disabilty camp. (20-22 May 2011) It was encouraging and challenging!

    I’ve also just read your testimony above and have to say you have such a great way with words and what you want to convey. As a fellow Cerebal Palsy mate I related with your story. I also enjoyed your sense of humour. You made me laugh. All the best for your future with Gods blessings in all you do and desire. Athena

    Comment by Athena Pavlis-Goard | May 23, 2011 | Reply


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