‘Disability’ is about possibility, not a lack of ability

Saustin Sampson Mfune recalls a story that made him reconsider his definition of "disability".

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A few years ago, I observed something that taught me an unforgettable lesson.

My son and I had turned the largest bedroom in our house into a recording studio. We recorded singing groups and short videos. And due to our quality productions, our clientele grew.

One day, we were to shoot a children’s group from one of the schools in town. They were going to mime their song on camera, with the original sound track superimposed. On arrival, they stood in our “Blue Room” before proceeding to the studio. There were 15 of them, ranging in age from eight to about 12 years old, excitement written all over their faces.

My son greeted the teacher and began to explain the logistics, before leading the children into the studio. I watched them almost tripping over each other as they followed him.

Then it happened. One boy momentarily appeared to hesitate, not knowing where to go. I wondered what was wrong, as he looked very normal. Then I noticed another boy reach for the hand of the hesitant boy and together they followed the others into the studio.

The boy was blind.

When all were inside the studio, my son got down to details. He pointed at two walls in the room, one painted green, the other blue, and explained that they would film their song in front of the green wall. The kids gave puzzled looks. Smiling, my son began to explain the concept of the “green screen” to the group. I noticed the boy who had led his friend into the studio continuously whispering into his friend’s ear, probably trying to paint a picture in his friend’s mind as to what was being explained. Then the boy who was leading his blind friend interrupted, “Can my friend touch the green wall?”

Surprised, my son agreed. As the boy’s hand moved on the wall, a smile curved his lips and he nodded his head in approval. The teacher whispered into my ear and told me that the boy had caught smallpox when he was about a year old, which had left him blind.

“Your song has someone singing a solo?” my son asked the teacher. Pointing to where he wanted them to stand, he said, “I want the soloist to stand on that black dot on the floor and the rest of the group will stand over there.”

The boy led his blind friend to the spot. I looked at the teacher. She nodded her head and whispered, “He has a very beautiful voice.”

My son explained that the lights would come on and he would then count down, “Five, four, three, two, one . . .” then would say, “Take one,” and filming would begin. “When you hear the soundtrack, start singing as directed by your teacher,” he said. The children nodded their heads.

My son and his colleague stood behind their cameras and the lights came on. My son raised his hand and just as he was about to begin counting, the blind boy raised his hand and asked, “Can I say something?”

"Jesus dying on the cross gives me hope that one day my eyesight will also be restored."

My son nodded his head, but remembering that the boy could not see him, quickly said, “Yes, go ahead.”

All eyes turned to the blind boy.

“All this talk about colours just reminded me of the colour red—the colour of Jesus’ blood,” he said. Then, shrugging, he added, “My parents told me that when Jesus was on earth, He healed the crippled, raised the dead and even restored sight to the blind. One of the blind people He healed was Bartimaeus.” He paused for a moment. “Jesus dying on the cross gives me hope that one day my eyesight will also be restored. I will be able to see my parents, my siblings, my teacher and my friends who help me at school. I really want Jesus to come soon. I’m sorry, I’ve taken your time.”

My son swallowed, took a deep breath, smiled and said, “Yes, we definitely want Jesus to come quickly.”

He clapped his hands, raised his hand and with his fingers made the countdown, finishing with a lively “Take one!”

Music filled the studio and the blind boy began to sing. It was so beautiful. And as tears welled in my eyes, I whispered, “Disability isn’t a lack of ability. Lord, come quickly.”

April 25 is Possibility Ministries Sabbath for the Seventh-day Adventist world Church. For more information and resources, visit possibilityministries.org.


Saustin Sampson Mfune is associate director of Children’s Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.