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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. ...

The Joshua Factor

By Michelle Sokol and John W. Kennedy
Nov. 24, 2013

T. James Kimble sat in his vehicle at the railroad crossing he drove over every day on his way home. He was ready to stop his car on the tracks. There were no crossing gates, so it would look accidental.

But as he heard the blast of the train horn, Kimble cried out, “Lord, please send someone who can understand what’s going on inside of me and help me get better.” The train went by before Kimble drove onto the tracks.

Eighteen years later, Kimble is alive and well, which he attributes mostly to his son, Joshua, who was born two years after the incident.

He’s sure Josh, now 16, has helped him understand how to get better.

Josh was born with Down syndrome. In the hospital, Kimble and his wife, Liz, were told all the things Josh wouldn’t be able to do. But Josh showed the world what he could do.

“Joshua had a disability more severe than mine, yet still finds ways to live beyond his own disability,” Kimble says. “The older he became, the more he inspired me to live beyond my own depression. I began to realize my son Joshua’s Down syndrome had turned my depression upside down.”

Kimble began a series of lifetime challenges soon after he started first grade. When he was 6, he lost control of his bicycle and ran it into a moving car. Knocked unconscious, he awoke in a pool of blood. Complications from a compound skull fracture landed him in a special needs class with a learning disability label.

His father was killed in a hit-and-run car accident when Kimble was 10. An abusive stepfather was nothing like his kind biological dad, Kimble says.

“My stepfather was very abusive,” Kimble says. “He and his drug-dealing and drug-taking friends once pointed a loaded gun at my left temple and cocked it.”

The stepfather later ended up shooting himself, but Kimble saved the man’s life with quick-thinking first aid before an ambulance arrived. The stepfather recovered, but his relationship with Kimble didn’t improve.

When he was 17, Kimble says, his stepfather slammed his head against concrete multiple times. Kimble fled the family’s Kaufman, Texas, home and didn’t stop until he reached Virginia Beach, Va.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he says. “I remember thinking, Whatever normal is, this isn’t it. After seven years of this I had to leave.”

For the next year, Kimble wandered among trailer parks and campgrounds, enduring homelessness and hunger.

“One day I got down on my knees and I prayed,” recalls Kimble, now 43. “‘God, if You’re out there and You’re real and You care about somebody like me, then please send somebody to tell me about Your love.’”

Not long after, a Tupperware saleswoman showed up at the mobile home where Kimble lived and asked if he would like to attend church with her and her husband. The couple drove 40 minutes out of their way to pick Kimble up to go to Harvest Assembly of God in Chesapeake.

A few weeks into attending church, Kimble surrendered his life to Christ. He says God began to transform him as he forgave the unknown driver who killed his dad.

The youth pastor at the church, David Santiago (now an AG missionary in Spain), invited Kimble to stay with him and began teaching him biblical foundations.

Kimble passed his General Educational Development tests, then enrolled at Southeastern University (AG) in Lakeland, Fla. Moving back to his native Texas, Kimble transferred and graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, where he met Liz. The couple has been married 20 years. Joshua is their middle son. Thomas is 17, and Micah is 14.

Despite being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, Kimble says he still experienced inner turmoil.

“I realized something was still very wrong inside of me,” he says. “I was clinically depressed, and I didn’t realize it. I can’t put into words the intensity and the gravity of the pain I felt.”

Three times he tried to end his life, including the railroad incident. The suicidal tendencies stopped when Josh was born.

“As time went on, I began to see God’s hand in my son’s disability,” Kimble says. “Joshua’s life has ministered to countless people.”

Kimble says the little acts of love Josh displays inspired him to overcome his own disability, the clinical depression.

“I’m more free than ever before,” Kimble says. “I have a degree of freedom I never knew humanly possible. God, in His great sovereign plan and in His great love and grace, has seen fit to use a boy with Down syndrome to deliver my freedom.”

Kimble is writing a book, to be titled The Joshua Factor Story, that compiles the many ways his son has touched multiple lives.

“Joshua has taught me how to understand suffering in the context of the work of Jesus Christ,” Kimble says. “Joshua constantly takes things in his life and brings them in a worshipful way to Christ. I’ve watched my son overcome time and again.”

Kimble went on to earn a pastoral clinical counseling degree from Pillsbury Seminary in St. Louis. As a clinician, he came to understand the trauma that happened in his own life.

For two years, Kimble has operated a faith-based counseling practice from Lifeline Assembly of God in Radcliff, Ky.

Mostly he counsels families with special needs children, helping them to see beyond the disabilities. Kimble helps his clients comprehend the upside of disabilities, as he realized with Josh.

“We empower them to discover their own purpose and begin to live that with a passion,” Kimble says.

To supplement the counseling, Kimble organizes several therapeutic activities Josh has found helpful. The events are held through a group called Joshua’s Friends.

For example, there’s “Beyond the Box” Baseball, an inclusive team that caters to children with special needs. In this game, there are no outs and no one keeps score.

Kimble also is an advocate for therapeutic horseback riding after seeing how much it has done for his own son. Horseback riding has been shown to stimulate deep muscles that can’t be reached through traditional forms of therapy and heighten awareness and the ability to control emotions.

Blueprints are drawn up for the Joshua House Family Life Dream Center. Once needed funding is secured, Kimble envisions the center offering therapeutic weekend retreats, recreationally inclusive activities, clinical behavioral support systems, and temperament counseling.

In the meantime, Lifeline AG is providing an office as well as monthly support.

“The whole family has worked hard toward their calling and dream,” says Lifeline Pastor Joshua Nagel. “Their heart is right, and their motive is right. They are great people.”

MICHELLE SOKOL is a reporter for The State Journal of Frankfort, Ky.

JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.


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