Evening in Swaziland last Saturday brought together Ohio folks from all walks of life.
The common thread was a curiosity about The Luke Commission and concern for those fighting an AIDS pandemic 10,000 miles away.
Dr. Harry and Echo (PAC) VanderWal spoke to a packed house of 300 at Wright State University. The dinner featured an African dance by the VanderWal sons, good food, inspiring music.
All this was secondary, though, to tears and emotions prompted from on-the-field videos, poignant photographs, first-person testimonies, and glimpses of Harry and Echo’s medical outreaches in Swaziland.
Another family who attended were Greg and Kim Holler and their children Zach, 24, and Mallory, age 22.
Zach was in a wheelchair pushed by his father, and Mallory was in a wheelchair assisted by her mother.
The Hollers bravely live with Rosenburg-Chutorian syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects motor functions, such as vision and hearing. Zach said his impairment was more paraplegic.
Both young adults listen by reading lips and speak mostly with sign language. Their parents relay their responses.
“Did you enjoy this event?” Mallory was asked.
“Oh, yes!” she gestured to her mother.
“It’s wonderful seeing everything going on in Swaziland with The Luke Commission,” Mallory answered.
Zach’s commented similarly: “I really enjoyed hearing what God is doing through The Luke Commission. It was like a pep talk for me, because I want to start my own ministry here.”
“Tell us about that ministry.”
Zach is always glad to talk, his dad Greg laughed.
“I want to start a voluntary disability ministry to bring people with disabilities into our church family,” replied Zach, adding that 20 percent of the U.S. population is disabled.
“So many are not part of a church family, because they don’t feel welcome,” said Zach. “That’s what I’m going to work on.”
The Holler family attends Christian Life Center in Dayton. “My church is very supportive,” said Zach. Joni and Friends, a leading ministry to the disabled, is “my great mentor,” he added.
Zach was graduated from Wright State University last June. When Zach mentioned this fact, his father signed to him and spoke aloud to those of us listening, saying “I’m proud of you.”
He started majoring in political science but changed to rehabilitation services. “I switched to a rehab major, so I could apply my own experience to serve those with disabilities.”
Both Zach and Mallory seemed typical babies when they were born. Not until Zach was three years old and Mallory somewhat younger did the Hollers suspect any motor or neurological problems.
Today Zach and Mallory love Jesus Christ, serve Him, and bless those around them with a peace that passes understanding.
The VanderWals expressed this same sentiment when speaking of their lives in Swaziland. Death and difficulty surround them daily, superseded only by the same Hope and Peace that keeps the Holler brother and sister on a path of joyful service.
Respectfully, Janet Tuinstra for The Luke Commission
P.S. Special thanks to Paul Carlson for introducing Harry and Echo and to Joe Noonen for giving guests the opportunity to support The Luke Commission’s free mobile clinics, more aptly named “a moving hospital.”
P.P.S. The online auction brought in over $4000 for 2013’s clinics – moving hospital.