Need a Speaker?

One of the gifts God has given to both Jerry and Joan Borton is the ability to enjoy public speaking. Likely, many of you reading this are one of the Americans who identify speaking publicly as one of their greatest fears; but not the Bortons.

Perhaps you saw photos of events where they have spoken or read about speaking proposals they are submitting and wonder what in the world they speak about. Here are some of their favorite topics, briefly explained.

Disability Culture and the Church – The Church and the Disability Rights Movement have an uneasy relationship. Before a local church even begins to embrace disability, they may face distrust or apathy. This session shares a user-friendly history of the disability rights movement and looks at ways the Church has responded over the years.

Introduction to Disability Ministry in the Church – It is wonderful when a local church wants to welcome and reach out to individuals and families affected by disability. Heart attitude is certainly the place to start. This session will help you avoid some common mistakes and look at two Bible stories of Jesus interactions with people with disabilities.

Anger, Disability and the Hope of the Gospel – Not every person affected by disability is angry, but many are. In this session Jerry helps people to understand the root of that anger, ways to use that anger for good and ultimately how the truth of the Gospel achieves what anger never could.

A Realistic View of the Value and Giftedness of People with Disabilities – The word “realistic” is thrown around way too early and often when discussing the future of a person with a disability. This session shares some of Jerry’s story, and that of others affected by disability who have found their giftedness and calling by refusing to  accept what was allegedly realistic. It brings us to the bottom line of Whose Am I? and Who Am I?

Leadership Lessons Learned through Disability – Having lived as a person with a disability for sixty years who founded three non-profits and served in leadership positions in national and international organizations Jerry has learned a thing or two about Leadership. In this session he shares lessons applicable to anyone who wants to be a leader, or already is (whether they have a disability or not).

The Third Wheel in Marriage – Jerry and Joan are in their 25th year of marriage. They have found that though the general foundations of marriage are unchanging, there are many nuances that disability brings to a marriage, acting as third wheel. This workshop discusses those differences and provides practical help for both the couple, as well as tips on how a local church or community can help support a marriage in which one spouse has a disability.

You Know You’re a Caregiver When . . . – Not only has Joan been a caregiver in marriage, but she has forty years experience working with and encouraging caregivers. This talk will share humorous and poignant examples and lessons gleaned from 10710979_10204794853732039_3018499777763322181_ncaregivers over the years.

Caregiving When you Just Don’t Care – As much as any family caregiver loves the person, they have the privilege of caring for, some days that privilege feels like a huge burden. The last thing the caregiver wants to do is extend care. They are burned out, depressed and just plain tired. Joan helps caregivers identify these feelings and find the courage to start again. Friends and Church communities also benefit from this session by learning more about the life of a caregiver and are encouraged with ways to walk the journey with a family caregiver.

Life Hacks for Living with Disability – In this session Jerry seeks to encourage young people living with disability to those newly diagnosed. He offers “ticks of the trade” that allow one to be more fully engaged with their community.

Two Things My Wheelchair Can’t Do (designed for K – elementary age) – Jerry loves speaking with children. They are intrigued by the lights and features of his wheelchair and tools that aid his daily living. As the children ask questions and try some of these aids Jerry shares the two most important things his wheelchair cannot do: 1) be his friend and 2) tell him about Jesus. He asks the audience if they will do those things for people with disability they may meet.

Jerry and Joan have experience speaking to groups of 2 to groups of several hundred. Their audiences have included business leaders, faith-based groups, families affected by disability, a police department, elementary schools, colleges, and conferences. They can adapt their style to reach those from Kindergarten age through senior adults.

Links to previous speaking engagements are available upon request.

Luke 14 Exchange also develops speaking topics as requested or needed by a group. Please let us know if there is something you’d like to hear more about.

You can schedule or get more information by calling 863-940-3816 or emailing Joan@Luke14Exchange.org

 

Leadership Starts with Knowing Whose You Are

In this post I’d like to share with you some of my foundational thoughts on leadership. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. I believe he is correct. Leadership is not about a title or position. Some leaders do have titles and positions, but leadership is about relationships. If you influence others (spoiler alert: you do) you are a leader. Not sure about that?? Are you part of a group, team, committee, church, family, or neighborhood?  If so, you are a leader. People are watching.

So how do we develop this thing called leadership? Where do we start? We could start with our mission, vision, and core values. They are important. But there is a foundation deeper than those. As one who holds a Christian worldview, I believe we start with knowing Whose we are. Ken Blanchard espouses this in his book Lead like Jesus. We are not our own. God created us. We have been bought with a price. See I Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23. This is truly good news because God is wildly in love with us!

All of Psalm 139 (link) talks about God constantly thinking about you – and me!  Verses 14-15 tell us He knit us together in our mother’s womb.  I don’t know much about knitting, but here’s what I do know. I know I shouldn’t be doing it. Giving two large needles to a guy with cerebral palsy is a bad idea. I’d probably poke my eye out; or somebody else’s.

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Photo by rocknwool on Unsplash

The phrase knit us together talks about intentionality and individual design.  My friends who knit enjoy it (most of the time) and often use a pattern. When we see the phrase “knit together” it means God carefully, meticulously, purposefully put us together.

It also means he enjoyed doing it. But God didn’t just enjoy the process. He enjoyed the product. You. Me.
Written by Jerry Borton

Authenticity, Disability and Leadership

Joan and I are at the Spire Conference in Orlando. We attended a session with Brad Lomenick, a speaker, author and leadership advisor.  The topic was how leadership is changing with each generation.

Two things Brad said resonated with me.  One is the need for authenticity. This means that we share who we are, both the good and the difficult.

The other statement is those Generation Z (the generation just coming into their working years) are failure averse.

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Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

The good news for those of us in disability ministry is that we have a unique opportunity to help the church work through these challenges. As people with disabilities, we understand failure, and don’t have the opportunity to avoid it. Our bodies fail every day. When one becomes involved with a person with a disabilty,  one begins to understand how to overcome barriers and how to rebound from things that don’t work (failure) . One learns that failure leads to suffering, and suffering leads to spiritual growth.

CS Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

A note to my fellow leaders:  You can see my wheelchair. Those who follow you need to see yours. 

All of us have things in our lives that we would prefer to keep hidden, things we prefer not be noticed, things we would trade away if we could. There are days I would trade my wheelchair, or my disability. I can’t.  When I say people need to see your wheelchair there are people in your sphere of influence who need to see a glimpse of those areas you wish you could hide or get rid of  but can’t. People need to see that and identify. Our disabilites are the platform that God wants to use to flow His grace in to your life and the lives of others. wheelchair-users-2814628_1280

Who Am I and Why I Talk About Leadership

In this post, and the first Wednesday of every month following, you will hear from Jerry Borton, one of our co-founders. 

Thank you for joining me here on the Luke 14 Exchange blog.  Developing leaders among people affected by disability has long been a passion of mine.  In fact, when I was in graduate school, I wrote my final project on this topic.  I was born with cerebral palsy (CP) and I use a power wheelchair.  God though chose to gift this disabled body with the mind, heart and passion of a leader.  It has been an interesting ride to learn how to work those parts of my life together so far, and it’s not over yet.  It is my privilege to be able to share some of my story with you today.

I was born in northwest Ohio as the second of three children.  My parents were never able to give me a clear understanding of when they learned about my disability.  From a very early age though, it was apparent I had a disability.  I think I was under two  years of age when doctors started telling my parents I had CP.  My grandfather and my father both assumed my disability was punishment from God because of their drinking.  My father later came to understand that that was not true.

breakaway-hiGrowing up, I felt like I could never measure up, I wasn’t good enough.   I had all the excuses down.  When I was asked to do something, I usually replied with, “I can’t”, followed by whatever reason I thought would work – for example I am too slow, I am too young, I am too fat, and the one that always worked – I can’t do that, I’m in a wheelchair.

Until one day as a high school student someone in our church invited me to attend youth group.  I wasn’t sure why they wanted me – an awkward, fat, slow and introverted kid in a wheelchair in their youth group.  I even wondered if they would get some kind of prize or bonus for getting me to come.

Eventually I went to a pizza party (no surprise there) and started going to youth group regularly. It was through the teaching in that youth group that I learned about the idea of having personal devotions – time spent alone with God each day, reading His word and praying.  One day in my devotions I read Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I thought for sure the Bible had a misprint- that it couldn’t be true.  So I looked that same verse up in all the other Bibles we had in the house and found it said the same thing – I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

If this was true, and I knew it was, then I was going to have to change the way I looked at and thought about myself.  If the same Holy Spirit who lived within Paul also lives in me, I truly can do all things through Christ.  Not necessarily everything I want to do; but everything Jesus wants me to do.  It is through his strength not mine – at least when I get out of the way and let him.

The same Holy Spirit who continues to work in my heart is also alive in you if you have surrendered your life to Christ.  If you haven’t done that yet he is waiting and willing.

 

 

Pro-Life Whole Life

This post is adapted from an article the Bortons published in the Ministry Essentials Bible 2014 by Hendrickson Pulishers Marketing, LLC Peabody, MA

Embracing the sanctity of human life is more than being against abortion — it is being “for the life of my neighbor” in all phases of life. People with disabilities certainly need protection in the womb and protection from euthanasia. But they may also need respectful support and practical services throughout life in order to participate fully in community. It is simply not enough to establish the right for someone to be born, even someone with a disability, and to prevent them from losing life unnaturally while failing to love and support them when life gets messy and complicated due to disability. 

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Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

For too long churches have turned a blind eye to those on the edges of life – those who need assistance with daily care, transportation, and health issues, thinking these needs fall solely under the domain of social services. While no one can meet everyone’s needs all the time, church leaders need to understand that we continually need to bear one another’s burdens, including those with disability and chronic illness, and thus fulfill the love of Christ. Galatians 6:2. Ministry to people with disabilities is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Consider these practical suggestions to fill gap between birth and natural death for persons and families affected by disability.

  • Provide meals on a regular basis – maybe once a week or month, or stock their freezer, or supply a gift card or two. Life with disability is unpredictable. Having a back up plan for an occasional mealtime is a blessing.

  • Assist with transportation needs – visits to the doctor or physical therapist may require family members to head in several directions at once. An offer to drive may ease the transportation headache. Or going with someone to an appointment as a second set of eyes and ears may provide a measure of confidence.

  • Dust off the wheelchair or clean the accessible vehicle – these are tasks that may be difficult, if not impossible, for the person with the disability. And they add just one more task to the Caregiver. These simple offers lighten the weighty burdens!

  • Include non disabled siblings in family outings – sometimes siblings may feel like they don’t matter, or life revolves around the person with a disability. Sharing a trip to the beach, amusement park, or bowling may help them create a happy memory. 

These are a few ideas to get your creative think tank going. Truly there are countless ways you can bless and encourage a person/family and apply your your pro-life conviction throughout the expanse of a lifetime. 

We’d love to hear your favorite tip.

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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

BOLD DREAMS

The ministry we do is the catalyst for even bolder dreams in the days and months ahead. Following the pattern of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. we too have a dream.  A dream that people with disabilities will be judged by our character, not by the number of our chromosomes. That we will be judged by our character, not how we walk or don’t walk, or what equipment we use. A dream that people with disabilities will be judged by our character, not our diagnosis, or the accommodations we need. A dream that the body of Christ, and the communities in which they minister, will include all people regardless of skin color, ability or disability, whether we communicate through voice, a computer or sign language, or anything else the enemy uses to divide us.

The fruit of those dreams will be seen when people with disabilities are at the table (Luke 14) and using their gifts. 

Bold dreams come to life through hard work, a circle of support and the grace of God. Some of the tools we want to use to fill the table are:

  • Develop a Compel Community Conference that brings people with and without disabilities to engage together to build community.
  • Disability ministry within churches are important, but it is time to look beyond Sunday. We want to resource the Church, the people of the Church, to engage in life with people affected by disability throughout the week.
  • A mentoring program that intentionally asks and answers the questions of Whose we are and Who we are.
  • Scholarship programs that provide resources to help people affected by disability apply the answers to the questions noted above.

Would you dream with Luke 14 Exchange? We need volunteers, prayer partners and financial partners at all levels. Please use our Contact Form to start a conversation with us.

We’d love to hear your dreams for people affected by disabilities and our communities . . .

Is There Really a Need?

Have you ever wondered if there is really a need for disability ministry? If people with disabilities are just people, why is a focused ministry needed?

That’s a great question! Consider these facts:

The need for disability ministry is monumental.  Joni Eareckson Tada has stated that people affected by disability have the highest rates of homelessness, joblessness, divorce, abuse, and suicide, and are among the least evangelized.    https://www.lausanne.org/category/content/lop

Five Heart-Hitting Statistics:

  1. About 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population or 1 in 5 people — have a disability according to the 2010 U.S. Census. More than half of them reported their disability was severe. (U.S. Census Bureau).
  2. Over one billion people or 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability, and of these, between 110 and 190 million have significant difficulties in functioning, according to the World Report on Disability.
  3. Estimates are that 80 to 85 percent of churches don’t have any level of special needs ministry.
  4. Only 5 to 10% of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making the disability community one of the largest unreached — some say under-reached — or hidden people groups in the world.
  5. More than 90% of church-going special needs parents cited the most helpful support to be a “welcoming attitude toward people with disabilities.” Meanwhile, only about 80% of those parents said that welcoming attitude was present at their church.

https://www.thebanquetnetwork.com/blog/2018/8/28/5-statistics-we-cant-ignore

So what do YOU think? Is there a need for disability ministry?

Breakaway!

One of the things the Jerry and I love most about being in central Florida is the connections we are re-establishing with disability ministry friends we have known over the years. In late June we spent the week serving alongside Jim and Rhonette Hukill and their fabulous team at LIFT Disability Network. The event was Breakaway, a week of camp for families and individuals affected by disability.

The theme was Beyond! Each day focused on how, through God, we can go beyond our environment, perspective and abilities. Jerry preached one morning on going beyond his perspective. He shared his dream to be a Major League Baseball player, and how God used that dream, over many years and many circumstances to bring him to where he is today.

In addition to preaching, we were privileged to serve as the pastoral care team. We taught a mid afternoon Bible study each day. Many young adults with disabilities joined us in those studies. How refreshing it was to see their heart to follow after God. What a joy to explore Scripture and pray with these brothers and sisters.

The remainder of our week was spent with the families, or individuals in attendance. We listened to their stories, cried, laughed, brainstormed and prayed together. Two stories from that week.

Phyllis asked to speak with us She felt abandoned by God due to her mental illness and divorce. She was working in a job that was not her dream. She wondered if God still loved her, or could have a purpose for her. She needed someone to listen and then remind her of she was intentionally knit together in her mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and as a daughter of the King of Kings she is loved, gifted and the apple of her Heavenly Father’s eye.. She left with a renewed purpose, and a rowing sprout of hope.

Mealtimes are always a great place to fellowship. Over one lunch a small conversation with two women branched out to all those at the table. What topic created so much interest? What disability ministry might look like in a local church. Discussion revolved around the steps to take to assess what type of ministry is needed, how to initiate a ministry, and ways to get others involved.

We may never know how God takes these seeds and grows them BEYOND what we expected. But we are thankful for these opportunities He gives us to plant seeds wherever we are.

Your Turn . . .

What about you? How have you seen God take you BEYOND your circumstances, perspective or abilities? We’d love to hear your thoughts, please share!

Family Cafe Flashback

In our initial two months of ministry Luke 14 Exchange has been privileged to reach 240 people with disabilities and their families. It started in early June at the Florida Family Café, a state supported conference for people with disabilities and their families.

Together Jerry and Joan spoke on the Third Wheel in Marriage: Embracing Disability in Your Marriage. One never knows when speaking at a breakout session how many, if any will come. We were grateful to have the room filled to capacity. How exciting to interact with couples who WANT to strengthen their marriage. Or do you suppose it was the chocolate Hugs and Kisses we distributed? After all, talk of marriage must involve copious amounts of hugs and kisses 🙂

Jerry sharing in our The Third Wheel in Marriage workshop at the June 2019 Family Cafe in Orlando

Jerry shared a breakout the next day on Nineteen Life Hacks for living with disability. His room too was full of people of all ages and ability/disability ranges. As the session neared the conclusion, a parent was overheard asking his late elementary aged son questions to see if he was ready to process what he heard. He went on to encourage his son to understand that this young boy was not alone in what he was feeling, experiencing and how he was growing up. A seed of hope for the future was planted in both this boy and his dad.

Everyone needs mentors and role models, whether in marriage or life. Through Luke 14 Exchange we want to connect people affected by disability with mentors they can identify with who can help them navigate the challenges and blessings of life.

We want to hear from you.

Whether or not you have a disability, who is your mentor? You don’t need to tell us their name, but describe who they are or the impact they have had on your life.

If you don’t have a mentor, why not? What are you looking for in a mentor?

And So We Begin . . .

Jerry and Joan Borton, the co-founders of Luke 14 Exchange, Inc were not looking to start a new ministry in the latter stages of their career life. They enjoyed the many years of working with people with all types of disabilities in churches, camps, residential settings and other community activities.

But there was always that one nagging area in which they rarely saw anyone ministering . . . people with physical disabilities.

In some ways it seemed like a “no brainer.” As long as someone with a physical disability has the equipment they need, and access to life in the community that was all that was needed.

Oh that that were true!

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Besides the fact that proper access and equipment are not afforded to everyone who has that need, there is a bigger issue. That is engagement in the community. And in particular the Christian community.

To test that idea, think for a minute about when you last saw someone with a physical disability serving as a pastor, elder, deacon, usher, missions committee member etc, at church. Certainly there are some – Joni Eareckson Tada, Jerry Borton, Doug Goddard, Mike King, Scott Mitchell. But stories of people with disabilities in ministry leadership seem few and far between. And where are the new leaders with disability who will follow their wheel prints?

In the weeks to come we’ll share details from some studies we have done, and also some of the tools we will use to help people affected by disability discover WHOSE they are, and WHO they are. Once confident in those truths we can uncover our gifts, and together find ways to use them in the Kingdom of God.

We hope you’ll journey with us. And please let us hear from you.

What is your experience with people with disabilities in ministry leadership?