Beyond Normal

How a couple stepped up to serve outside their comfort zone.

Rich Atkinson

Last summer Bob and Janice Trierweiler learned about the concept of serving outside their normal ministry sphere for 2% of their time for the year.

“Our normal is that we have been more involved in proclamation ministry and training people,” says Bob. After 29 years as a corporate attorney, Bob left the business community to become a missionary attorney with Cru. Janice has been a staff member with Cru for 33 years. “We never really had done anything on the humanitarian relief side of things. So we figured that qualified for something out of our normal.”

So they started looking about what Global Aid Network® had to offer. GAiN, the humanitarian aid relief arm of Cru, seeks to transform lives through acts of compassion.

“We had no idea about wheelchair distribution and what disability ministry involved,” says Janice, “but we decided to go for it.”

So last September Bob and Janice joined a 25-member team that included mechanics, and physical and occupational therapists and traveled to Khmelnitsky, Ukraine for the outreach. It was a partnership between GAiN and Joni and Friends’ Wheels for the World.

The team explained the good news of God’s love and forgiveness to 400 people and 157 placed their faith in Christ. They also gave 154 wheelchairs to people from 5-years-old to a person in their 90’s, afflicted with disabilities like Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy, as well as stroke victims and a bi-lateral amputee.

They met a 10-year-old girl named Anna who came to the distribution needing a chair. Her mom showed surprise and delight when the wheelchair came. She said it was the exact chair that she had seen online and had picked out for her daughter, but couldn’t afford.

Janice talked with many patients as they waited for their wheelchairs, including Galina, who suffered from dwarfism. “The Lord just gave me the ability to really connect with her,” Janice explained. “At the end of our time together she said, ’Thank you so much for talking to me. No one ever talks to me.' ”

Expressing interest and extend kindness goes a long way. Janice had the opportunity to explain about how Jesus offers forgiveness by using a color-coded beaded gospel bracelet she wore on her left wrist.

“So many of them are ignored. They are overlooked,” says Janice. “The gift of mobility that they are given through these chairs opens the world to them. One gentleman hadn’t been able to leave his home for 6 years. He said, ‘Getting the gift of this chair is like being born again.’ ”

This outreach offered the disabled individuals hope in receiving the wheelchairs, but even more importantly the opportunity to receive new life that Jesus offers.

“Bob and I were not experienced – I don’t know why we went along,” says Janice. “Except God wanted us to. But my theme verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9 – where God says, 'my grace is sufficient for you. For my power will be made perfect in your weakness.' And definitely the power of the Lord was displayed.”

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