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MY TURN: I’ve got no excuses B

By Justin Fisher

efore Sunday school several months back a friend announced a mission trip our church was organizing to Stamford, Connecticut. My church, Valleydale Baptist in Birmingham, had partnered with Encounter Church, a new work to reach New York City’s influencers. As I heard the details, I knew God was calling me to join the team; but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I was born with a neurologi-

cal disorder that affects my muscle coordination. All my movements appear to be in slow motion. It’s like I have to tell my leg, “Move this way.” Telling my hands to grip tighter on a can opener may result in my legs stiffening. Flexing my calf muscles might cause my teeth and jaws to clench tightly shut. It’s a little like a short circuit in the wiring between my brain and muscles. God saw fit to bless me with this disability called Cerebral Palsy. I mean it. I truly believe that my disability has taught me a dependence upon God that I wouldn’t have known oth- erwise. He’s taught me as He taught Paul that His grace is sufficient for me. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9). And I do.

Still I knew the group would incur greater costs from providing an adapted rental van to carry my power wheelchair and an additional handicapped accessible room. The rental van was of special concern as one can- not simply stop by Hertz or Avis and pick one up, and they’re more costly. I didn’t want to be a burden. But my friend Saint Green (yes, that’s his real name) reminded

44 Spring 2011 •

me that the eternal God of the universe had formed this team Himself, and these accommodations weren’t bur- dens, but opportunities for ministry. A few short months later I was sitting on a plane bound for Connecticut. The major task given to us by the pastor of Encounter, Landon Reesor, was to distribute gift bags to businesses in the downtown shopping area surrounding the church. It was an effort to tell the community about a Bible- based church down the street that cared about them and wanted to draw them closer to the God who loves them. We arrived on Friday, and Landon gave us our marching orders late Friday night. On Saturday we divvied into bags a vanload of candies, mints, cookies and gum. I must admit that three redneck guys from a church in Birmingham probably wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice to make up “Fru- Fru, We’re-In-the-Neighborhood” gift bags to distribute in the suburbs of New York City. But we did it, and set out. To transport the bags around the neighborhood, the guys bungeed a two-wheeled buggy to the back of my wheelchair. Do you think we got some stares? I remember as a child, I would get stared at because of my disability. Now I was getting stared at because I was using my dis- ability for the cause of Christ. That’s what it really means to be on mission. The bottom line is that “The Great Commission” does not present any exemptions. Jesus didn’t say, “Go into all the world” if it’s convenient, or easy, or if you feel like you’ve got enough time, or money, or knowledge or support. He calls all of us to go and make disciples. No matter our challenges, we must be about our Father’s business.

Justin Fisher is a writer and professor at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama.

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