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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Jim Hukill

Elevating Life Amid Disability

At the age of 20 months, doctors diagnosed Jim Hukill with a neuromuscular disorder that is a form of muscular dystrophy and told his parents he would be dead by the age of 10. Hukill, however, graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in 1983, received his ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God in 1985, and since 1998 has operated Lift Disability Network, based in Orlando, Fla. The organization’s goal is to raise the supremacy of life for families facing the adversities of disability. Hukill, 51, recently spoke with Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy.

evangel: How have you overcome, or at least learned to live with, disability?

HUKILL: There is such a life force that occurs when you connect to Jesus. He allows us to experience life that is outside the walls and barriers that try to dictate the limits of life. The connection with Jesus allows me to live outside the armrests of my wheelchair.

evangel: One of the messages you teach is that disability isn’t necessarily a barrier to achieving goals.

HUKILL: When you face adversity, adversity has such a loud voice. The voice of pain tries to disqualify the goodness, grace and dynamics of the majesty of God. It’s an indictment against the Creator. A person who wants to achieve anything has to move beyond those voices of pain and understand that we serve a big and vast God. When you establish goals, you begin to live a life that’s larger than what the rest of the world says you can live. You may not reach every goal, but your life is going to be bigger than it started out to be.

evangel: You’ve found that disabled people want to give back in some way to those who have helped them.

HUKILL: Humans want to be valued, and value comes from contribution. The way we find value is to be productive pieces of the community around us. It is the nature of the believer to be a giver.

evangel: On the one hand, people don’t want to be defined primarily as a person with a disability. But on the other hand, there is a realization that life is indeed more difficult in some regard.

HUKILL: Life is tougher. It can be a difficult journey. You can’t escape that. Your wheelchair blows a tire. You don’t have the energy and vitality to get out there and do as much as you want. But if all you do is focus on the difficulties, you are going to be swallowed up by the disability. We proclaim that Jesus is bigger. We know that life is tough. We live it every day. It won’t go away. We need to put disability in its proper place. It’s part of the character of Jim, but not the totality of Jim.

evangel: Marriages that encounter a disability often dissolve.

HUKILL: The family breakup rate is significantly higher in the disability world than in the nondisabled community. That’s because there are external pressures of alienation and poverty for families struggling to make ends meet. Then there is guilt: Moms and dads feel responsibility for the disability, even though it may not be their fault.

evangel: How does your organization help people in a family with disability deal with feelings of being disconnected?

HUKILL: There are four great giants in disability: isolation, fatigue, poverty and hopelessness. They are somewhat cycle driven. Isolation is almost immediate. When disability happens in a family it begins to limit access to friends, church and community. Fatigue begins to creep in, then poverty of the soul begins to happen, and from there you fall into a hole of hopelessness. So connecting is vital. We try to take families with disabilities and build models of relationships with them through events, through socialization, bringing together folks of like mind. People with disabilities have something to give in a relationship.


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