Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jake the Encourager

When I requested guest bloggers for my website, Living the Body of Christ, on the ACFW writer's loop, Harry responded with the story below. I loved it so much I asked him if I could reprint it for the Homesteaders Special Needs blog. He agreed. It is a wonderful picture of a boy who is seen by his gifts and not his deficits. Just how his Father created him.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage... (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)

 Jake's Gift

 Jake was born in far less than ideal circumstances. But from the beginning, he was loved dearly by his mother and grandparents. By the time he was two, it became obvious that Jake was different. Was his hearing impaired? Did he have learning disabilities? What did the future hold for him?

One day the verdict came in ... Jake was autistic. He began to display some annoying behaviors, especially when he got excited. But through his formative years, the love of those closest to him became the one constant in his life that gave him peace and security.

From the time he was a toddler, his grandparents took Jake to church and Sunday school without fail. Through the music at church and his fascination with the Gaither Homecoming videos, it became apparent to everyone that Jake loved music. He can imitate all of the regulars who sing with the Gaithers. While he can't read or write, he remembers everything he sees and hears. He can imitate anyone, but he limits this ability to people he admires. If Jake imitates you, he has paid you the highest compliment he can give.

Jake's grandparents bring him to every family reunion. I noticed he would approach every person present, one at a time, and ask how people were doing. He wants to know that every one is doing well physically, relationally, and spiritually. A typical conversation with Jake goes something like this:

Jake steps close and makes eye contact. "How is Julie? Is she going okay?"

"Julie is doing pretty good, Jake. But she's been sick lately. That's why she's not at the reunion this year."

A look of concern appears in Jake's eyes. "We need to pray for her. Does she love Jesus?"

"Yes, Julie loves Jesus."

"I do too. I love my church. Have you heard our choir? They sing so beautifully ..."

As Jake became a teenager, he was allowed into a special education program at the local high school. It's a large school having a student body of about 2,000. Word about Jake's love of music spread, and the band director allowed him to sit in on band classes. He can’t play an instrument, but he listened to the music, watched the director, and began to blossom.

At school, Jake circulated among the students with his one-on-one encouragement. Over his years at the high school, most of the students came to know him. At the conclusion of his senior year, the student body and faculty assembled for an awards ceremony. Jake prefers one-on-one interaction, so when his name was called to receive the Most Inspirational Student award, no one knew for sure what to expect.

Jake stood when they called his name. He walked the aisle to the front of the assembly, but he didn't go directly to receive his reward. Instead, he positioned himself in front of the band and turned to face the audience. He raised his hands for them to rise. After the entire student body stood, he turned to the band and directed them flawlessly through a rousing rendition of the school fight song. When the song ended and Jake received his reward, the applause was long and loud.

Before a church service, Jake greets everyone, and he knows them by name. He sits in the front row during services. When he is moved by a hymn or praise song, he turns, brings the congregation to their feet, and then turns to direct the praise band and choir. He does it flawlessly. The pastor understands. The people love it. The worship time is never boring with Jake in attendance.

Jake will always have the heart, mind, and innocence of a five or six year old, though he is now in his early twenties. Some hear about his autism and are saddened. They don't know Jake. But when God allowed him to be born with autism, He gave Jake a compensation for his disability, the gift of encouragement. I don't think Jake is even conscious of his gift. It's just who he is.

By the way, do you love Jesus?

H L Wegley

Author Bio
H. L. Wegley published in the scientific community for several years before turning his attention to fiction. If you Google H L Wegley, you will see some of his publications floating around in cyber space. He has a BS in Meteorology from Texas A&M University, an MS in Computer Science from Washington State University and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Northwest Christian Writers, and Oregon Christian Writers.

In the military he served as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. After transitioning to civilian life, he served as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at a national lab for many years. After getting an advanced degree in Computer Science, he developed computing systems for Boeing until he retired in 2008.

He published his childhood adventure stories, Colby and Me, in 2009. But his work experience provided an abundance of material for writing romantic-suspense novels and thrillers. He is currently finishing the third book of a romantic-suspense series and is planning the first book in a new series.

He and his wife live in the Seattle area where he writes, leads a Bible-study group, spends time with grand kids, and tries to snorkel in Maui at least once a year.

1 comment:

  1. I am truly touched by Jake's amazing story. Thank you for sharing.