The Limited Value of Patience

Sunday’s Evening Service: Emmanuel’s Dream is about a Ghanian named Emmanual who is born with a immature foot, rendering his leg below the thigh functionless. In Ghana, being born disabled is considered a curse, and by the magic of self fulfilling prophecies quickly becomes one. The disabled were expected to beg, assuming they weren’t left for dead by their parents as infants.

Obviously Emmanuel did not succumb to this fate. At a young age his mother had him doing chores, refusing to bring him things. By the time he was five Emmanuel was hopping from place to place on one leg. As a school boy he shined shoes to make ends meet for the family, and purchased a soccer ball for himself along the way. A soccer ball was a commodity in his village, and in order for his classmates to make use of it they had to include him in the games.

His mom gets sick, so at 13 he sneaks away in the night to Accra to cobble shoes, and sends home the money. His mom eventually passes, but before she does she tells Emmanuel to never give up, never beg, always strive for greatness. Emmanuel, having been in the city for some time, has seen how other disabled people are treated, and takes the improvement of their plight as his quest.

He decides he will ride his bike around Ghana to demonstrate that a disabled person is not an unable person. He goes door to door raising money, with plenty of those doors being slammed in his face. Emmanuelwrites to a charitable organization in the States,The Challenged Athletes Foundation, who respond by outfitting him with a bike, bags, and shorts. With his friends in taxi behind him Emmanuel takes off on his quest.

Emmanuel rides through his country, asking people to be conscious of the suffering endured by the less fortunate in their country, to astounding success. His message reaches across the Atlantic, he finds financial support, he is given a prosthetic. For the first time, he is able to walk, he can ride a bike three times faster than before, he receives endorsements and sponsorships. For many, it would have been enough.

Emmanuel, however, learns how to construct frames that can turn a cheap plastic chair into a highly functioning wheel chair, and brings this skill back to Ghana in the form of a charity. He arranged meetings with heads of churches, with the media, with the King of Ghana, who invited the disabled to his palace, an unthinkable act in the years before. In 2006 Ghana passed a Persons with Disability Act, proclaiming discrimination against the disabled illegal. Emmanuel found a group of people being oppressed, reduced to something less than human, and toured across his land asking people for kindness and understanding.

Some people are waiting for a Jesus to rise again, some literally, some figuratively. Others, like Emmanuel, don’t have that kind of patience.

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