In the face of overwhelming odds, Nick Vujicic spreads hope to those around him.
As soccer fever rages on, an advertisement made for the World Cup season by car manufacturer Hyundai has been attracting eyeballs of its own. In fact, it is one of the most-viewed clips on YouTube around the world in recent weeks, having garnered more than three million views in 20 days. The man in the clip, Nick Vujicic, is no soccer superstar, but his message of triumphing over adversity will remain long after the party leaves the stadium.
Standing at slightly over three feet tall, he is a tower of inspiration. He has no arms, but his courage touches the most hardened of hearts and reaches places with seemingly no hope. Born without arms and legs 28 years ago in Australia, Vujicic battled with a childhood nobody should have had to endure. Subjected to relentless bullying at school and worried of being a burden to his parents, he suffered from gulfs of depression and loneliness, and at age 10, attempted suicide. But God’s Word reached where nothing or no one else could, and in John 9:3, he found revelation and comfort. It was no overnight turnabout, but Vujicic drew strength from the realization that God could use his condition and circumstances for His glory.
At age 19, he answered God’s call to be an evangelist and today, as president of the international non-profit organization Life Without Limbs, he has traveled to 34 countries around the world to share the message of hope. He has met with presidents and governors of states, encouraged CEOs of big corporations to envision success for their companies, and he has broken the inner shackles of prisoners by leading them to Christ.
With an easy smile and unflinching honesty, Vujicic rarely leaves an audience unmoved. “He’s got more precious thoughts of you than all the grains of sand in the world. God has a plan, a hope and a future for you,” he tells a group of high school teens. What about those who are handicapped? The truth and the purpose for every single person in the world, “is to know God, and to make Him known. Jesus is the cure for hopelessness, only He can break the chains of our disabilities—those that others can see and those on the inside. You find your purpose when you love Him and love others.”
Faith In A Sovereign God
But how does Vujicic reconcile his disability with his faith in a God who is supposed to be all-powerful and all-healing? “You can pray for a miracle but God is still God even if He says ‘no,’ because He is sovereign. In Philippians 4:13, the apostle Paul said, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and not ‘I can have all things.’
“My mum has cancer. Can God heal her? Absolutely. There’s one thing better than God healing her, though—when my mum goes to the hospital, she can relate to someone with cancer. And she knows that He will not give her more than her heart can bear. You don’t know the beautiful touch of God’s grace until you need that grace. God’s strength is perfected in weakness, not when He takes the weakness away, but when He gives the strength to overcome it.”
Make no mistake—Vujicic is not against miracles. “In fact, I have seen too many blind people seeing, too many deaf people hearing and too many lame people walking for me not to have a pair of shoes in my closet in case God says ‘yes’ to my prayers. I know God can heal me if He wants to, but He knows how to best use my circumstances.”
|PHOTO COURTESY OF NICK VUJICIC|
In some countries, children with disabilities are believed to be a curse. They are buried alive and the mother is ostracized from the family and community for the rest of her life. Liberia was one such place. During a visit there in 2008, Vujicic met with its President, Ellen Sirleaf, the first-ever African female president. They arrived at a soccer stadium, expecting to see no more than 300 people, but 10,000 people turned up instead. Amid the crowd, a mother came forward with her three-week old child who was born with no hands. “Everybody couldn’t believe what they saw. They were thinking, ‘Why hasn’t anyone killed this child? Now we’re all going to be cursed.’” He kissed the child on the forehead and prayed for him. Since then, not one child has been killed.
“It is better to populate heaven than to have anything of this world. If I was born without arms and legs just to populate heaven by one more soul, then it’s all worth it, because I know when I see God face to face, He is only going to ask me only two questions—‘Do you know Me? and Who else did you bring?’
“Some mentally handicapped people have taught me more about love and forgiveness more than the average person. You don’t need arms and legs to love God or to love others. You can still have cerebral palsy and stand in front of the gates of hell and redirect traffic.”
Real Life To Reel Life
In 2009, Vujicic was approached by a husband-and-wife filmmaking team, Joshua and Rebekah Weigel, to star in a short movie The Butterfly Circus. Singularly moving and immensely life-affirming, it tells the story of a man who finds hope and redemption despite circumstances so dire that “God Himself must have turned His back on him.” It eventually took first prize at the 2009 Doorpost Film Project, an online short film contest seeking to inspire the creation of meaningful movies among emerging filmmakers.
never done before, and it was difficult picturing myself on the big screen. My mum always told me that when I go to Hollywood (because she always knew I would), to not ever do anything related to the circus or the freak show, but that is exactly where you first find me. I did it because of the message at the core of the story—one of the greatest lines in the film is, ‘the greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.’ It turned out to be an awesome experience.” The film can be viewed online at www.thedoorpost.com/hope.
But that is just one of the many projects he has been busy with of late. His book, Life Without Limits, will be released this October, and he will also be starting a video and music production company as well as a publishing company in the coming weeks.
Parents—A Vessel For God’s Unconditional Love
Through the unceasing love and devotion of his parents, Nick Vujicic is living the life that God intended for him. City News talks to him about parenting a child with disability and overcoming the challenges that follow.
What did your parents do for you during your childhood that you most appreciated?
Nick Vujicic: My parents were always there to provide a loving home for me, no matter how much the world rejected me. I had a lot of unbelief in me, but they were very persistent in planting seeds of truth in me, telling me all the time that God loved me and that I was beautiful and special the way I was—because if they didn’t tell me that, who would? If I didn’t hear the truth, the more I heard the lie, I would have been convinced of it—the lie being that God didn’t love me, that I was not good enough and that He had forgotten me.
They didn’t treat me differently when I wanted to get something, which helped me build my resilience and my persistence. They exposed me to as many different people as they could to help me get used to people’s reaction about me—that was how they built me up gradually to accept that I was different from other people.
But is there a line between letting a child with disability live as normal a life as he can and over-exposing him to a sometimes cruel world such that it is detrimental to his well-being?
NV: This is wisdom which only God can give for each individual. For my case, no one could really speak into my situation because no one could have known what capacity I had, what I could do, or how I was going to react to the people around me and how I was going to react to the reactions people had around me.
What are some of the practical things a parent can do to cope with the challenge of raising a child with disability?
NV: I would first recommend them to read a book that my mother read—The God I Love by Joni Eareckson Tada. Take one day at a time. Pray for your child, pray for wisdom and discernment to raise him or her up as best as you can, because without Jesus, my parents couldn’t have done it. Get inspired by the stories of others. Above all, be encouraged to know that one of the greatest ways God shows His tangible love is when a parent looks after a child who is mentally handicapped, despite the knowledge that the child will never be able to repay the parent.
And what are some of the practical things a church can do for these parents?
NV: One of the greatest chapters in the Bible that churches sometimes tend to overlook is Luke 14, where Jesus gives the parable of the great banquet; with some being too B.U.S.Y (Being Under Satan’s Yoke), he summoned for as many people as possible to be brought into the house of God—the lame, the blind, the disabled. In some churches [in America], people believe that you shouldn’t be in wheelchairs. Those that are wheelchair-bound, don’t come back—they think that it is because they didn’t have enough faith. This is a lie. There are organizations like Joniandfriends.org that don’t just help churches be more accessible, but train people to look after kids with problems like autism, bipolar disorders and ADHD so that their parents will not worry about bringing them to church and having them disrupt the service. For churches who wish to know more about this, they can write in to www.lifewithoutlimbs.org and we can channel them to the right people.