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.

 

 

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?