Having listened to the YouTube video of the “Finding God’s Purpose in My Child’s Disability” program that was held on November 13, 2020, I want to share my story. In 2006 my world seemed perfect and normal, with excitement at cradling my just-born son, and thinking all along, “Thank God, he’s normal”. I named him Joshua as the name struck a chord with me wanting a sense of family, recalling “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15. Raised in an orphanage myself, I yearned for a sense of belonging and a purpose.
<brJust shy of Joshua’s 3rd birthday, reality struck, and the joys of motherhood came to a standstill when I heard the doctor say my son has autism. I knew in my heart that it would be a long, narrow, and tough road ahead. My son is non-verbal, uses gestures to communicate his needs, and has poor intellectual functioning. This made it very difficult to socialize, to the point where it was impossible to enter God’s church. “Why me Lord, why does my son have autism?” was a constant pain-puzzle in my heart.
When Joshua turned 11 years old, we were invited for the first time to a “Disability Awareness” Sabbath at London New Life SDA church. I had mixed emotions as I had to give a testimony about my son. I accepted the challenge. That Sabbath morning, I suddenly felt so connected to people as they accepted and celebrated the uniqueness of our son. I didn’t have to explain myself for crying, I didn’t have to take my son to a separate room as I felt I belonged and felt Jesus in this new Adventist church, I didn’t have to apologize to anyone on my son’s behalf for my son’s repetitive behavior. I was given an Autism Awareness pin, which our family of 5 wore with honor. As I walked up to the stage to give my testimony of living life with an autistic son, for the first time I felt proud of my son, Joshua, knowing he was created for a purpose just the way he is, as the gospel tells us that “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139:14. This text clearly describes that all of God’s creation can testify of God’s Love. I felt exuberant because it took us 8 years for Joshua to be able to sit for the whole worship service, which is a testimony itself.
I began this spiritual journey wanting to know more of how the gospel can be accessed for disabled kids. This led me to get in touch with Sophia Nichols, the ASNA UK (Adventist Special Needs Association) director. This opened the doors for me to volunteer in the Adventist Possibility Ministries to raise awareness in many churches in the United Kingdom.
In June 2019, we immigrated to America. We continued to testify of God’s amazing love and leading in our son’s life through the online worship services in India and the UK during the pandemic shutdown. We currently worship at Remnant SDA Church, Burtonsville, MD where we encourage the church to broaden the scope of their ministry to include the marginalized members of our community. Today, Joshua enjoys the communal singing in church, gospel songs and hymns and the other activities of the worship service, all the while favoring a particular seat to sit in church every time.
We thank God for blessing us with Joshua and for the patience, long-suffering, kindness, and unconditional love that Joshua gives and for what we have learnt. It’s a reflection of the Master’s character.