joseph-look into my eyes

A week before Christmas, I got an email from a gal who will be with us on our team as we go into Ghana in April with Joni’s, Wheels for the World program. She was simply sending Christmas greetings. We began a conversation via email and she mentioned in one of her notes that her son has cerebral palsy so I told her about iamviable and also slipped it in that she may even want to share her son’s story. A few days later, in came the story, which I thought would be perfect for Christmas. Over 2000 years ago, Jesus could be found in a manger, where might we find Him today?

Story written by Kathy, Joseph’s mother

Thirty-eight years ago my beautiful son, Joseph was born. I had prayed for a baby for three years and did finally conceive and give birth to Joseph. During that time of prayer for a child, I promised God that if I had a baby, I would raise him to serve the Lord with his life. I thought maybe he would become a priest.

It became apparent in his first year that Joseph was developmentally delayed. Our hearts were broken, but of course we went on caring for him and loving him. He was my very special son. Joseph was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and severe mental retardation, with autism. He is a very gentle person and smiles if we make sounds he enjoys. He has no language and has never communicated his needs in any way. He never walked. He will not hold anything in his hands, and recoils if he is touched.  He never makes eye contact; in fact he avoids making eye contact. He seems to be in his own world.

When he was very young I wondered what would become of him. I cried many tears over the years. He would never know all the things of life that most of us take for granted – a family, a career, knowledge of God.  But God showed me something that is priceless and I will share it with you.

Joseph now lives in a group home with nine other young adults with varying disabilities. I visit the home and read scripture to the young people. I also bring Christian videos and we play them and sing and clap and have a great time. The care takers also enjoy our time together each week. The atmosphere is lifted and it is a very enjoyable time together.

One week I was sitting with Joseph and I was trying to make eye contact with him as I was speaking. He was doing his best to avoid my eyes by turning his head side to side with his arms flailing as usual. I said “Joseph, Jesus loves you. One day, you and I will be in heaven together, in our glorified bodies and we will have the conversation that we have never had.  Joseph, Jesus loves you.” When I had said that, he stopped suddenly and turned and stared right into my eyes and smiled. As I had his attention I continued talking. I saw something in his eyes I had never seen before. I saw Jesus looking right back at me, right into my eyes. I said “Joseph, you already know Jesus! And Jesus knows you!” Still holding my eyes with his, he smiled again and said “Huh”. I was overwhelmed with peace. Jesus speaks to Joey when it seems like he is far away. It was worth every tear ever shed for Joseph when I saw Jesus looking back at me from the most unlikely person in the whole world! Jesus and Joey already have a personal relationship. That was the only time in his 38 years that he ever communicated to me.

I am sure Jesus speaks to many, many people who do not otherwise communicate. I saw this again another day when I was reading Psalm 139 to another resident of the group home. This young woman, Susan is also autistic, but is able to walk. In fact, her behavior is hyperactive and sometimes violent. She cannot speak, but does appear to understand some things. As I was reading the Psalm to Susan, she was sitting very still, and began to weep. The tears were streaming down her face. No one had ever seen Susan cry before! The word of God was ministering to her soul. God’s word does not return void. Psalm 139 told Susan how very special she is to God.

My relationship with Joseph reminds me of Hannah. She prayed for a child and promised to dedicate the child to God. Joseph is my Samuel. Like Samuel, he is a prophet from God. He communicated Jesus to me, to tell me “Everything is alright. Joey already knows Me, and I already know Joey.” When Joseph seems to be far away in his thoughts, I am sure he is in communion with Jesus, Spirit to spirit. I would never trade one tear ever shed for what I saw that day. I believe I am also directed to share God’s word with all of His children. He will minister through His word to everyone. God is good, all the time!

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  1. Thank you for sahring this testimony Kathy! This is beautiful.

  2. I know Kathy and have met Joey and several of his housemates.It is really a wonderful thing to watch them worship the Lord while watching a video or listening to music.I am blessed to see God at work in every life no matter how limited they may be while here on this earth

  3. I know Kathy and have heard her share these stories. We are each so limited in different ways – but our God is not! He is awesome and He reveals himself sometimes in the most unexpected ways! If we look we will see Him! Thanks for sharing Kathy!

  4. What a beautiful story and a beautiful man he is. You can see it in his smile!

  5. It’s almost 11pm and my 5 year old daughter with autism has been crying and getting out of bed/running around the house, since I tucked her in over 2 hours ago. I now placed her back in bed for the 10th or so time, a familiar scene here. We don’t know why she is having this tantrum or any of the many others because she is non-verbal. It’s a usual routine especially at night. We don’t remember the last time we had a good, uninterrupted night sleep. I could go on and on, but just as I felt like banging my head against the wall, God reminded me in a thought that you told me last Sunday to go to iamviable.com. THANKS Kathy! I know God gave me my daughter because He knew I was the best dad to take care of her. I never once asked God why or was angry about her autism. I just needed a reminder of how blessed we are that she can do some of the things she can. (Like cry and run around the house even if it in the middle of the night :) God knows my only fear has been about her future, when we are no longer able to, or are here on this earth to take care of her. Seeing Joey smiling at his home and knowing there are wondreful places like his out there really helped me. Thank you for also reminding me that this is all temporary and that God is in control. I now also am looking forward to having that conversation with my daughter that we never had, in heaven. Thanks for sharing Kathy! God Bless you and your family always!

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