Copy
View this email in your browser

We’re pleased to send you the newest electronic edition of the story-filled CRC/RCA Disability Concerns Canada newsletter. We have added you to our list, because you have demonstrated an interest in our ministry, and we believe you will find the content helpful and encouraging. You may unsubscribe at any time.

EDITORIAL

We’d love to have you write an article for the Newsletter

By Elly Vanalten & Jenna Hoff

Hello Friends,

At Disability Concerns Canada, we believe that sharing stories both builds deep connections and teaches us all so that we can learn and grow together.

Everyone has a story and we are hoping you will consider sharing yours so that we can publish it in a future issue of our newsletter.

Here are some ideas to get you started on what to include in your article, whether it is about yourself or about someone you have interviewed or are a caregiver too. You don’t need to answer all of the questions in your article.

  • Please tell us about you. What are you (or the person you interviewed) passionate about? What brings you (or them) joy? What do you want people to know about you/ them?
  • What is the nature of your disability? How long have you had it?
  • How does it affect your ability to live your daily life?
  • What kind of accessibility or assistance do you need in your daily life?
  • What has been your experience with accessibility (church or community)? How could this be improved? What is working well?
  • Are you part of a church community?  Do you feel that you belong and that you have the opportunity to serve in your church in some way?  If not, how would you like to be involved?
  • Are you able to work, volunteer, or contribute in other ways?  Remember, this can be big or small. A smile, listening ear, or compassionate heart can make a huge contribution to those around us.
  • What has God taught you or shown you through your experiences with your disability?
  • Has living with a disability brought anything positive into your life?
  • During this time of pandemic, has there been any impact on you as a person or on your daily life because of your disability?
  • What advice or words of encouragement do you have for another person, either living with a similar disability or not?
  • If you are writing about someone else, what is your relationship to the person you are writing about?
  • Instead of relying on a list of facts, please write in story format. 
  • If you are writing about someone else, please ensure you have the consent of them or their legal guardian.
  • The story should help us feel like we are sitting together at a kitchen table enjoying a cup of tea/coffee and getting to know you.

We look forward to reading your story!

Covid-19 and blindness

By Maria Kovacs

As a blind person for the past thirty years, I thought I had seen it all! Oh boy, was I ever wrong! After many years of practice at being blind, I have found something that is sending me for a loop.

COVID-19 has done it to me!

My world now is cold, untouchable, lonely at times–which is something hard to handle. I am not so sure I could survive the new world we are all experiencing if I did not believe that my “Heavenly Father” would not be here to catch me when I fall.

Going for a walk, if anyone is passing me by, I’m always wondering if they will possibly get me sick. Going to a supermarket and trying to get assistance, while everyone wants to run away from you. No getting together with friends because no one wants to come and visit, scared we pass the virus to one another. Walking onto a bus and being scared that the person who previously occupied the seat you are now at had the virus.

Or, a simple walk in a park and getting lost because all the roads have no traffic to give me a sense of direction. Yes, to me, this was probably one of the hardest things to handle. My world is open when I have sounds of traffic or sound barriers to help me to be able to be independent daily.

My local park is a place I have known for the past thirty years and I am very used to going there. Now this park is very different for someone who has no sight. No children in the playground, nobody bringing the dogs to the park, no one bringing me coffee and conversation, and no cars to give me direction as to where the roads are.

The world I knew had familiar sounds to help give me direction, and this I knew was a world that was easier to deal with in my daily life. I also travel with a guide dog, which at times also can bring others to be afraid to come close, because of fear that dogs may spread the virus.

I also have had others say that many in the supermarket get upset when the dog moves into their space and does not keep the necessary distance of two meters.

Now I can honestly say that the world as a blind person is hard to cope with! If I did not live in a house with a yard and with a great garden to take care of and give me joy, my world would have been lonely and hard to handle for the foreseeable future.

Meetings online may give me many hours of involvement with my community, but the time spent on electronics is starting to drive me crazy.

I love to attend meetings in person and the opportunity they provide to get to know others and how they are engaged in our community. Now this opportunity is also lost, and I find that the computer does not bring the same spirit into my daily routines.

So, for all of these reasons, “blindness” has imprisoned me again. But, this time it feels like I have moved from a minimum-security prison to a maximum-security one.

My God, my Saviour, my Jesus has given me the strength to stay safe, healthy, and confident to survive this very hard world we are all forced to live in.

Through all of this, there is something that has happened in my world and the answer is simple. I am now much happier to talk to my Heavenly Father and ask for peace. The closeness I am feeling is giving me the peace I will need to bring forward in order to see me through.

So, I hear the Lord and walk in obedience to the things God is asking me to do, despite my fears. He reminds me that other people’s very lives may depend on it. Someone has sent me this verse and I make a point to read it when I find doubts in my daily routines. To whom much has been given, much will be required (Luke 12:48, NRSV).

Would you like to learn more? Further information about COVID-19 and blindness can be found in a thoughtful article by Nicholas A. Giudice, a professor at the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Maine.

Maria Kovacs, Church Disability Advocate, Maple Ridge CRC

Disability Concerns Events

By Becky Jones

This year has been one that we could have never have anticipated. As a country, we have been walking through financial loss, death of loved ones, social isolation, racism, and grief. We have had to shift at rapid speed to a new way of connecting to one another as many of our traditional avenues are currently unavailable to us. In the midst of all this loss and grief, though, we have watched communities come together to care for those who are vulnerable and to participate in celebrating special events virtually, such as birthdays, weddings, and graduations. This has been a time to be creative with our thinking of how we connect with each other.

As a ministry, Disability Concerns has taken this time to look at our upcoming events as opportunities to think creatively and to envision new ways of reaching all of you. We have been working behind the scenes to reimagine our annual Leadership Training Event that we typically host in Grand Rapids as well as our Canadian conference that had been planned originally for April 25th to host in Kitchener, Ontario.

Disability Concerns Leadership Training Event 2020

This event took place over two days this summer — completely online! We came together August 5–6 for worship, a great line-up of speakers and had the opportunity to connect in smaller groups during breakout sessions. This year our event focused on the theme of agility. We praise God for the number of participants that joined this year, many of whom were able to participate because the event was hosted online. We are excited to announce that we will be releasing video excerpts from this event soon, so stay tuned! We will be releasing information here and in a Network article focused on agility that will be out soon.

To find out more about this event, bookmark this Network post.

Disability Concerns Canada Annual Conference Re-Imagined!

We are excited to announce our new format for the Disability Concerns Canada Conference that was to take place in April. Rather than a day-long conference, we will be hosting a month-long series. Every Thursday in October we will gather on zoom at 12pm Eastern to discuss caregiving. Every week we will start with worship, followed by a guest speaker who will speak on caregiving from a unique perspective.

To find out more about this event, bookmark this Network Post: Disability Concerns Canada Conference Re-Imagined

Please note: Register once to participate in a whole month of conversations!

Becky Jones, Volunteer and Communications Specialist, Disability Concerns

Hello, my name is Henry

By Bernie Voortman

Hello, my name is Henry and I would like to tell you a story about my Mom and I.

I am 54 years old and I live with my Mom because I need someone to help me look after me. My Mom does a very good job helping me out: she makes sure I take my medicine, she makes all my meals for me, she makes sure I get to all my doctor visits and always makes sure I wear my vest when I go biking. She takes me to Friendship Group on Thursday nights and floor hockey on Tuesdays, she  never lets me be late when I have to go to work at Choices. On Sundays, my Mom and I love to go to church so we can see so many of our friends; my Mom loves the people from our church and I get to open the door for everyone who comes in. It doesn’t matter if it's raining or snowing or sunny it is great to see everybody at church. I know there are lots of people in church who love me very much.

This year has been a little bit different though because of this bad virus, so many of the things that we used to do we are no longer able to do. On my birthday this year we did not have a party at church, all the people from my church drove past our driveway and waved at us and said happy birthday to me, that made us sad because every year we would have a big party at church. We really miss all our friends at church, sometimes they call us, which my Mom really enjoys, but there are lots of days when it is just my Mom and me and sometimes that is difficult. I will not be able to go to camp this year and my Mom had to cancel a trip to Holland to visit her family all because of this bad virus. I don’t really know why this bad virus is here but my Mom always tells me that God will look after us and I believe her, but every day I still pray to God that He will make it go away.

My Mom tells me not to complain about the virus because we are not doing too bad and I know that she is right about that. She tells me that some people have been getting real sick and we should be thankful that we are okay, but sometimes I think she just says those things just to make me feel better. I love my Mom very much and I know she loves me very much but sometimes I worry that all this bad virus stuff is not too good for her. I worry sometimes that she really misses going to church and visiting with her friends and that it becomes difficult for her when she has to spend all of her time with me because I am not allowed to go anywhere.  Every time I ask Mom if she is doing okay she always says yes, but I think she says that  too so I won’t feel sad.

Sometimes, I wonder if there are more Moms and Dads out there who are going through the same things that me and my Mom are going through. I asked my Mom about that and she told me there are lots of them, so I would like to ask a favour from you all. If you know someone who is not doing too well because of this bad virus maybe you could give them a call and talk to them for a while, I know my Mom loves it when she gets a call from one of her friends. You don’t even have to talk for very long. Maybe you could bring them a cup of coffee and a donut, but my Mom says if you do that you have to have coffee in the garage so you don’t sit so close, she says this is because of the virus. If you come to my house you can bring a Boston Creme because that is my favorite. One more favour you can do for me is to pray for people like me and my Mom who don’t get to go out much anymore, my Mom tells me that God listens to all our prayers, so i think He will listen if you pray.

Editor’s note: Bernie and Henry are great friends and Henry is a frequent visitor at Bernie’s house. Having known Henry so well for so many years and through having such a special and close relationship, Bernie has written this beautiful story based on what he believes Henry would say if he was able to communicate his thoughts on these matters. 

Bernie Voortman, Regional Advocate for Classis Hamilton

Refuge

By Lori West

When I was a little girl, I loved to be in the security of my dad’s strong arms. There was something ‘magical’ about being in those arms that made life’s little hurts dissipate.

I remember trips to the cellar to get vegetables for my dad to peel for a meal and how I would want to help him carry the bucket of vegetables back to the house. He usually would let me struggle to carry it for a short distance and then I remember seeing his strong hands come to rescue my tired little arms. Oh the sweet release when he helped carry the heavy load. My dad knew all along that my small arms weren’t capable of carrying such a heavy load for very long.

Often we, as children of God, try and carry loads that are far too heavy and cumbersome for our frail shoulders to handle. The Father says that we need not carry the load alone. His arms are always open and His back ready to bear our burdens. Christ assures us that, as His children, we will never walk alone; we need never face any situation alone for He is always with us to provide wisdom, strength, and blessing. We are to keep our hearts and minds on Him. He can only answer if we ask and he can only come to us if we call  out to Him. We need not wait until we are worthy of His help and blessing for that time will never come.

God’s grace bypasses all of our shortcomings and failures and He comes to our aid because of His great love for us. He loves to have us depend upon Him. Not only does He love for us to need His help, He also anticipates it just like my dad knew that sooner or later I’d need his help to carry the vegetable bucket.

As the years go by, we outgrow our dependence upon our natural parents but we will never outgrow our dependence upon our Heavenly Father. O how comforting to know that He is never more than a whisper away. How important it is that we always remember the ‘law of life’; there must be action to bring reaction, a question to bring an answer, and there must be an expression of love and confidence on the part of one person to arouse a corresponding response in another.

Never presume that because God knows your need that he will automatically supply it, for He has instructed us to call upon Him and He will answer.

Whatever burden you are carrying today, don’t carry it alone. The ears of your Heavenly Father are attentively listening for your call and He waits in eager anticipation to help carry your load.

I close with the words of a chorus I learned as a child:

Yes, Jesus took my burden
I could no longer bear,
Yes, Jesus took my burden
In answer to my prayer;
My anxious fears subsided,
My spirit was made strong,
For Jesus took my burden,
And left me with a song.

Note from author: I was born with a progressive neuromuscular disease that has left me wheelchair dependent and that seeks to silence my voice. For the last four years I have resided at a long term care home.

Regional Advocates

Disability Concerns RA Classis Chart

If your classis does not have a Regional Advocate and you need assistance, or you are interested in filling the position, please contact Len Bakelaar at rlbakelaar@hotmail.com.

Twitter Twitter
Facebook Facebook
Website CRC Website CRC
Website RCA Website RCA
Copyright © 2020 Christian Reformed Church in North America, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.