As we just finished our 3rd annual outreach to Belize (see the previous 2 posts and photo collages), I thought it was appropriate to highlight, Jimmy Chestnut, one of the many hardworking and faithful volunteers who made the trip as this month’s Ray of Sunshine.
Jimmy was a great addition to the Access-Life Belize Team this year as he brought a genuine servant’s heart and the enthusiasm of a first time short term missionary to Belize. He also, brought a great deal of experience. This experience is not something most folks have or to be honest would even want on their resume. You see, Jimmy is a person living with a disability. He has Cerebral Palsy and uses a manual wheelchair to get around. Like many folks living with disabilities, he does not let these extra challenges slow him down but relies on the Lord with a Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ” attitude to move mountains in his daily life.
His quiet and innocent smile made most of us serving along side him forget that the mountains of life are even bigger in Belize as the muddy roads, rough inclines and multiple transfers in and out of his wheelchair each day never changed his rough but boyish grin. This overcoming attitude is what made his presence so important to those we met as it inspired many to see that “with God all things are possible”. Yes, even in the inhospitable conditions of Belize someone with a disability can serve God and be used by Him in a mighty way.
That was Jimmy’s testimony from the start as he jumped right in with helping to prepare hygiene kits to give out to people in the villages and cleaning crutches and walkers to distribute at the Expo outreach. He was always eager to help with whatever tasks needed to be done. At some of the sites where our team built ramps, Jimmy was able to interact with people in the community, allowing them to see firsthand that disabilities don’t have to limit a person’s ability to serve God and others even in Belize. This message was again seen as Jimmy was able to work with Sharyn and Mike King at the Adaptive Fitness booth during the Expo and met several people in wheelchairs who came by that day, including a man who was a double amputee and another man who had been wounded in the military.
On the way home from the Expo, the team stopped by to visit Eli, a man who we built a ramp for in 2016. Mike King had a hand cycle to give to Eli and several from the 2016 team were looking forward to seeing Eli again. Jimmy admitted that when we stopped in Eli’s village, he really didn’t want to get out of the van because he was tired and was hurting from all of the activity of the day and week. Jimmy told the team that he sensed God telling him that he needed to get out of the van and visit with Eli, so he did, and he received a blessing in his life from being obedient. Jimmy encouraged Eli to continue in his faith journey and told him that he didn’t need to have “can’t” in his vocabulary. It was a moving experience when Jimmy voiced a prayer over Eli and ask God to help him to stand firm in his faith.
All in all, it was so encouraging to see God faithfully helping Jimmy overcome every challenge and being a blessing to others around him. From his fellow team mates to those who were surprised to see someone in a wheelchair coming to serve them, Jimmy brightened up the days of hard work and uplifted new friends all week long.