Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Amazing People with Disabilities: Emmanuel Yeboah and Many Others

I've often been inspired by the courage and general goodness I've seen among people who have faced severe challenges in life due to physical and mental disabilities. Regarding those with mental disabilities, one LDS man with significant experience serving and working with them told me that "they are happier than we are." In general, the people with mental disabilities that he knows and works with are not obsessed with the vain things of the world, nor filled with the pride and arrogance that withers the minds of so many of us. So who should be learning from whom?

Overcoming physical disabilities is a topic also rife with inspirational examples. The story of Emmanuel Yeboah (featured prominently in today's Investors' Business Daily) is one that inspired me greatly. Emmanuel was born with a missing tibia, giving him only one leg to walk on. His mother told him to take him to the forest to die or to just kill him (the Planned Unparenthood folks have an office in Ghana, I guess), but she refused to. His father thought the family had no chance with a disabled son like that, so he abandoned his son and wife. But his mother taught him to press forward in life and be his best, and not to beg. Emmanuel went on to bring hope to millions in Ghana as he undertook a heroic bicycle journey across Ghana using only one leg to pedal. His mission garnered international attention and he continues to be a significant figure helping the huge population of disabled people in Ghana and elsewhere. The trailer for Emmanuel's Gift gives a short overview of what Emmanual Yeboah has accomplished.

The disabilities and trials that we are given in life are sometimes opportunities and blessings, if we will only let the Lord work his wonders through us. And for the parents of those with severe disabilities, whose lives become lives of unseen compassion and service, I have also seen remarkable transformations that this experience has brought into their lives.

How silly our focus on status and material goods will seem one day. May we work to be the people we are meant to be, to serve and love one another, and to learn lessons from those who face physical and mental disabilities (far less harmful than the self-inflicted spiritual disabilities of those who seem whole).

7 comments:

Robert said...

One of the greatest men I have known in this world was a minister of mine in the Methodist Church growing up. He was born with cerebral palsey, but his parents never let him use it as an excuse. He finished a Ph.D. in Yale by the time he was done with his education. He had love, compassion, and a great appreciation for the gospel. He was also someone who helped me learn to love to seek for more knowledge - especially in matters of the gospel. I often found his sermons beautiful, and when I heard other men preach so much faster it took me aback at first (after hearing him for a lot of years). He was also close to my family, and we went with him to the Holy Land. It was great to see that place with a man so knowledgeable about it. His passing was a sad one for me recently, but I know his life touched many. Knowing men like him probably contributed as much as anything to my difficulty in leaving behind that church, but I know somehow that he would understand. He was the sort of man who asked questions like "Is Ghandi going to Hell just because he's not a Christian?" The sermon he was preparing to give when he died was about how Heavenly Father loved us all so much he wanted us all to return to him. It seemed beautiful, if perhaps a little reaching in its doctrine.

Lovely post.

Bookslinger said...

Loved the trailer. The DVD is for sale on Amazon, $12.99 and eligible for free shipping on orders of over $25.

Anonymous said...

There are also a couple copies for sale on Ebay.

Pops said...

Robert said:

"He was the sort of man who asked questions like "Is Ghandi going to Hell just because he's not a Christian?" The sermon he was preparing to give when he died was about how Heavenly Father loved us all so much he wanted us all to return to him. It seemed beautiful, if perhaps a little reaching in its doctrine."

I don't see how that's reaching. The Mormon version of existence claims that progression continues after death, although at a perhaps slower pace. When a person who was not a Christian here on earth, but who developed Christ-like attributes while here, arrives on the other side and is taught of Christ, perhaps even has the opportunity to meet him, it is no stretch that they might embrace Christ both literally and figuratively and wait anxiously for their ordinances to be performed so they can move forward.

It's really easy to take care of the paperwork. The hard part is becoming like Christ.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff, I bought a (legal) copy of this DVD based on your recommendation. Loved it. Will loan it out to others.

Rian Malan said...

The link to Emmanuel's site does not work. His story and blog can be found at http://emmanuelsdream.wordpress.com.

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Why you don't write an article about Steven Hawkins ? he is so admirable!