Chris Ralston Interview

  • July 15, 2016
  • #8925

Chris handles his disability by leaning on the Lord’s strength as he ministers to students and the disabled community through writing curriculum. 

Joni: Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a very special guest in my studio. That’s right! I want you to meet Chris Ralston. Chris, welcome to the program.

Chris: Thank you. Good to be here.

Joni: He’s my colleague co-laborer in Chris. Chris helps us write curriculum. That’s the key, isn’t it Chris? You are our Assistant Manager of Curriculum; you have a heart for disabilities. Welcome to the program; or should I say Dr. Chris Ralston? Should I say that?

Chris: You may if you like, that would be great.

Joni: And I have just brag on you to my radio listeners. I mean he’s got an alphabet soup of academic degrees behind his name: a couple of Master’s, a Doctorate, a Bachelor’s in Communication, it’s a mouthful what this man has done. And Chris like me has a disability, right?

Chris: That’s right, I do.

Joni: You want to share with our listening friends what that is?

Chris: Sure, absolutely. Well, when my mother was pregnant with me, through her I was exposed to rubella and my mother also had German measles. As a result of that I have a congenital neuromuscular disorder, similar in some ways to cerebral palsy, but not exactly that. I use crutches and wheelchairs for mobility to get around.

Joni: And I tell you what, you get around in that wheelchair – my husband thinks you drive too fast on the parking lot.

Chris: It will be our little secret now.

Joni: Well, sometimes we have almost collided in the hallways here at Joni and Friends. You know, Chris, having a disability I know that’s not easy. The day-to-day routines, the medical visits, problems with our wheelchairs, and yet you have pressed on like Paul says in Philippians chapter 3, you have obtained an advanced education that most people (including those who have impeccable health) don’t have. What has been your driving force?

Chris: Probably I think one particular passage that has come to mind that has become sort of a life or theme verse for my life I think (and you all will be familiar with it) is from II Corinthians 12:9,10 where it talks about how the Lord told Paul “I am your strength. I am your strength and I am sufficient for you.” Whether we have a disability or not we all have times when we feel weak, when we feel inadequate, when we feel insecure and those verses for me are tremendously comforting. To know that it is not about me. It is not about my strength, it’s not about my abilities, but it’s about God and His strength and His abilities and what he is able to do for us.

Joni: Absolutely. And you now I am so glad you are putting all this down in curriculum because you write for junior high school kids, you do curriculum for us for high-schoolers. What drives you? Why do you think developing materials that really bring about awareness and understanding is so important?

Chris:  Well I think it’s a combination of personal giftedness, of course, and just the way God has wired me up. I think from a very young age I have always been an avid reader, I love words. I just have a passion for working with words and for people. And so one of the neat things about this position is to be able bring those passions together in one context, and in the specific role that I do. One of my passions is to see people with disabilities at all age levels, at all age ranges fully integrated into the church. One of my convictions is that disability ministry is not just some things on the periphery of the church, but a mission is central to what the church is all about, and people with disabilities are right at the heart of God’s mission and passion for His body.

Joni: Absolutely. And they are leaders as well. You know, I just bet there are some moms and dads of young people with disabling conditions who are listening to you and thinking ‘Can my son do this one day?’ Wow! Chris, thank you for joining us today.

Chris: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Joni: Don’t you love the way Chris handles his disability? Tomorrow is Disability Awareness Day and Chris and I want to send you a free gift that you can pass onto someone you know with a disabling condition. It’s called “God’s Word on Disability” and it’s a perfect thing to share with a neighbor or co-worker or a friend who uses a wheelchair. Contact us today at joniandfriends.org/radio and ask for your gift.  

© Joni and Friends

 

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