Vanesa Pizzuto’s “Kevan’s Journey as a BACKPACK. Signs of the Times, 11/.18

Kevan exudes warmth. Even though I interviewed him online from London, I could feel that warmth as strongly as if I were sitting right next to him. Something about this joyous man shrunk the distance between us and made me feel like I was  in down-town Fort W#ayne, Indiana, sharing a cafe’ table with him. He cracked jokes about his wheelchair and living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy [ SMA] . His boyish laughter is infectious. In long, unhurried sentences, he told me about growing up in North Carolina, about his loyal college friends, and how he ended up traveling around Europe strapped to a back-pack!

When Connie, Kevin’s older sister, was diagnosed with SMA, a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement, the doctors recommended that her parents not have anymore children. Undefeated, the Chandlers decided they would take the risk and love any future children the same they did Connie. A year and a half later, Kevan was born, the youngest of three siblings.

Growing up, they tool it one day at a time. Kevan said they would look at what THEY WANTED to do, and what they COULD do and find a balance between the two. “Sometimes this means letting go of things you wanted to do, but other things pushed you out of your comfort zone.” Kevan said.  More often than not, finding the balance meant getting creative.

Kevan remembers his older brother cutting out cardboard horses and attaching then to his wheelchair, so they could play cowboys. He remembers his Dad, an airplane mechanic, fitting his wheelchair with a special metal frame so he could play football with his primary school friends… years before powerchair football became popular.

During his formative years, of his childhood, which Kevan called as “Happy”, he learned to use an unconventional, community-oriented approach to problem solving. And it’s where he first developed an unquenchable thirst for adventure.

While in college, studying toward a counseling degree with emphasis on Prison Ministry, Kevan and his friends decided to explore the local sewers. Not that I can fathom why anyone would want to do this, but Kevan blames it on watching Teenage Mutant Turtles, on TV, as a child. As sewers aren’t exactly wheelchair accessible, Kevan’s buddies strapped him to a makeshift backpack, he weighs in at less than 70 pounds,— so that he could be part of the smelly adventure! While down deep into the sewers, Kevan and his friends had a “EUREKA” MOMENT: “WHERE ARE WE GOING , NEXT”? It was a simple question that would,  for Kevan, completely redefine accessibility.

GOING TO EUROPE.

Kevan’s dream was to visit Europe,  But the places he wanted to see weren’t wheelchair accessible., so after designing a new backpack, in June 2016 he and a group of friends spent three weeks backpacking through France, England and Ireland. Four friends took turns carrying him, while the other two filmed the experience. After all “if you’re going to do something crazy you should probably document it right?” Adventure met them at every turn,  from dance parties in France to monastic climbs in Ireland. They saw the world as it’s meant to be seen, in the company of friends

I asked Kevan what it felt like to leave his wheelchair at the Atlanta Airport and completely depend on other to carry him for three weeks. He said one of the main things challenges was letting go of control. “When I’m in my wheelchair, I may be limited in where I can go, but I am in charge. In a backpack, I can go practically anywhere— I don’t have to worry about ladders or even mountains. But I’m at the mercy of those carrying me. The experience made me realize that I’d traded one freedom for another, And one freedom isn’t greater than the other. They are just different.”

After his return, Kevan spent four months writing a book about his experience, “THE VIEW FROM HERE.”  which he hopes will be published soon.  As he wrote, he realized that one of the greatest blessings of the trip was seeing the Kingdom of God, coming to earthy–God’s priorities put into practice in the kindness of his friends and in the way people were reacting to their adventure. “People would stop us to say that this is what they needed to see, people loving each other. It was like a drink of clean water to them”. Jesus has foretold this very thing:

 John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”       This is very fitting, as pure love is the very foundational bases for God’s Government, and rule.

Near the end of our trip, it really hit me,” Kevan confessed. “I asked the Lord why these guys were doing this. He clearly said,, ‘Because they love you in the way that I love you. It’s my love coming through them.”

THE MISSION.

While preparing for the adventure which Kevan and friends promptly and apply dubbed, “WE CARRY KEVAN”. the word spread about this “Backpack” for disabled people and the group of brave friends who were redefining accessibility. People from all over the world started contacting the team, asking about their experience, the backpack and where to find people willing to carry them.

The interest was such that, upon returning from the trip, Kevan started a nonprofit organization to inspire communities to re-imagine accessibility. “What if accessibility is less about ramps and more about people helping people?”. Kevan asked me during the interview, and I found myself answering that maybe it was always ment to be about community. On an emotional level and spiritual levels, I know this to be the only path to healing. My friends have carried me to Jesus– much like the story of the paralyzed man..

 Luke 5:17-25 “And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.”

On many occasions, when I didn’t have the strength to go on, my friends were there to see me through a crisis in my life. Why should physical accessibility be any different?

This summer, Kevan and his friends are traveling to China. With the help of Show Hope, an organisation that supports orphan with disabilities, Kevan and his friends {his squad] will visit care centers to encourage children and deliver backpacks. Kevan is looking forward to taking these children for walks with the help of their care-givers. Some of these children have never seen an adult with disabilities thriving. Kevan hopes to inspire them to embrace their fullest potential.

AT THE KING’S TABLE.

“There’s a lot more to us than our physical bodies,” Kevan said as we wrapped up our interview. Then he shared the Biblical story of Mephibosheth from a perspective I’d never considered before. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and the grandson of King Saul, was disabled. The boy was five years old when his father and grandfather were killed in battle. It was then the custom, when a new king took over, all his family were killed, thus no lineage of that ruler, might latter on claim the throne.  In trying to save the boy’s life his nurse picked him up and fled. But as they hurried, the boy fell and became lame in both legs  [ 2nd Samuel 4] 

When David became King, he wanted to honor his best friend Jonathan. So, he invited Mephibosheth, by now an adult with a son of his own, to sit and eat at his table. “The beautiful thing about eating at the table is that your legs are hidden”, Kevan said “This Disabled guy sitting on the same level with David’s mighty men. He’s on the same level with the guy that killed a lion a nd a giant.” This story is such a beautiful analogy of the Kingdom of God: at His table we’re all equal.

We all, find our identity in our relationship with Christ. Sitting at His table {The Wedding Supper} CONT…..>

 Revelation 21:2 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Note(JB) : Christ is the Husband, and all those who follow Him in loving obedience to the law, are His Spiritual brides. Time frame? at the end of the 1000 years after Jesus’ Second Coming, and coming with the Second Resurrection, and satan being Loosed again, he now has others to deceive once more, and when he gets them to surround the New Jerusalem, Every knee shall bow, even Satan’s, and then all the of the Second resurrection shall be cast into the Lake of Fire’s once and only use!  [Malachi 4:1-3] This fire will burn only as long ad there’s “Fuel”, the saints, [you and me] will walk upon their ashes with the soles of our feet! Read what’s there, not what another tells you!

Cont.>>>>> Sitting at His table we’re reminded again, of the intrinsic value He’s bestowed us all, regardless of any physical, emotional, or spiritual limitations we might have had, because….   1 Corinthians 15:12-15 “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.”

 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? ”

 Revelation 20:6″ Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”  { the millenium}.

Note(JB) : While those of the first Resurrection shall have new glorious bodies, eternal bodies, those of the second resurrection will have the same bodies, same diseases that had when the died., and will die again in the fire! The rewards for Obedience are … eternal but then the punishment for the rejection of Jesus Christ, is also eternal….. thus born once & Die twice leads to eternity of death, but born twice and die once leads to eternal Life in God’s Kingdom!

Kevan continued: “Our relationship with the Lord overrides whatever is going on in our lives. we can say, ‘My arms don’t work, my legs don’t work’ or even ‘my situation stinks at the moment.’ But I am a child of God and that overrides everything. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Note(JB) : Whatever the obstacle, we in Jesus can call on Him for strength and will to overcome any obstacle, or find away around it!

Thanking Y O JU for your time  Questions?  Comments?  John at servant@frontier.com

Want/Need more? Visit your Seventh-day Adventist Church any Saturday/Sabbath at 9-10 AM, and learn that YOU, are the only one like you, and Y O U have a spot in God’s Kingdom, set aside just for YOU!

Other sites:  aftv.org— blbn.org—- redeem.international —-  Amazingdiscoveries.org

itiswrittren .com — bonesionstone.blogspot.com—- Longlife.itslifestylenot genes.com…

cc/jb

 

 

 

 

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About servant2013

Ever wondered about the picture chosen for this blog header? That symbolic for most non-believers, walking all alone,, down the very lonely road of life, without knowing the Love that Heaven has for them! Biblical illiteracy is a great danger to your eternal life!
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