first testimony was written for a Membership Service at the Congregational
Church in 1996, when Pam was an APU undergraduate at the Colchester
Institute, reading History and Sociology.
The second and shorter is a more recent testimony
following her spinal injury, which robbed her of all the independence she
had so greatly fought for.
given by Pamela Glover, 4 August 1996, at Wivenhoe Congregational Church
I was born in the summer of 1952 one month premature; tiny,
perfect in form but yellow. The
jaundice, which determined my colour, was to damage my nervous system and
dictate the pace and course my life would take. It is a good job I did not know then the years of constant
struggle, frustration and loneliness, my disability would create.
If I had known, I probably would have said, “forget it God, find
another lame duck for your purpose.”
But I can see now that God, being smart, also gave me certain
qualities to help me bear up to my hardships.
He endowed me with determination, faith, optimism and a sense of
humour, all essential for survival in a world geared to people with
average abilities. God also
picked parents for me with the tenacity and spirit to fight on my behalf
and to do their utmost in ensuring that I was able to eventually stand,
independently, on my own two feet, living my own life - this despite a few
dire warnings from doctors to the contrary.
One doctor said I would not walk.
Another doctor, kindly trying to reassure my mother, who was very
anxious one day about her sick daughter, calmly said, “You really
mustn’t worry so; children such as these do not live to be very old.”
The early years were tough for my parents, trying,
not only to cope with a handicapped child, but also in the daily struggle
to improve my physical abilities. There
was very little support then from organisations, as there are today.
I can assure you, that the patterning method devised by the Peto
Institute in Hungary, for children with cerebral palsy, is nothing new.
My parents devised a similar programme, with mini goals to set me
walking, forty odd years ago. I
was surrounded by a love which encouraged, sometimes coaxed, me into
thinking that anything
was possible if you only tried. And
as I stand here today, reading you this, I bear silent witness to this
truth. If it had not been for
my parent’s resilience and my mostly willing co-operation in the
exercises which they thought up, I would either have been in a wheelchair
or not here at all.
I knew from an early stage that someone up there was looking after me. Who else had arranged a letter from Santa Claus in Iceland
one Christmas, when I was particularly poorly with bronchitis.
The joy of receiving such a treasure speeded my recovery no end.
And, looking back, there had to
be someone behind the creation of opportunity which gained my Mum the job
of school secretary in both the junior schools I attended.
It was important for a fragile child, that Mum was never far away
in the rough and tumble atmosphere of a normal school.
And always, someone up there was sending me help in needy
circumstances which could not be forecast.
As I grew older I appreciated this ‘fairy godmother’ more and
more - and, eventually, knew it to be God.
Being disabled , there is hardly a day that goes by when you
don’t see God’s loving protection at work.
In this sense it is a privilege to be disabled.
The times I have been on a train, unable to open the heavy doors,
or needing help to step over the terrifying gap from train to platform,
and not seeing a soul to help - and yet, a friend has magically appeared
within hailing distance, has proven to me that there is
a God and that he loves us all. And
as travelling takes up just one component part of a day, how many more
instances of love during the week, does he show me.
Experiencing divine protection on such a level has
lead me into an awareness of a God, who can be relied upon for help,
wherever I am or whatever situation I am in.
This knowledge has furnished me with a daring and a boldness to
accomplish things I never dreamed I could do.
The first real test of faith, in which I took a considerable risk,
came four years ago when I left my safe but miserable job of 18 years
working for a national bank, uprooted myself from where I had lived all my
life, and settled here in Wivenhoe to a life as a mature student.
The motivation behind this plan was driven by a desire to escape
from a job which afforded only tedium and frustration to the point of
desperation. Some time
before, the idea of ‘doing a degree’ had been suggested to me by a
good friend, and I had known instantly that this was the answer to all my
searching for an escape route. When
I first set in motion the task of selling my home in Redhill, there were
considerable hurdles and potential pitfalls in the way of getting to
university. Financially, the
budget looked extremely tight and I did not know how I would manage.
I did not know whether or not I was capable of the level of degree
study required; it had been years since I had used my brain and I knew it
had degenerated since then. Exams
were another real problem area in which I knew there would be trouble.
These problems were, of course, set against all the physical
problems, which were normal to me. Seeing the odds stacked against you, as I did, any rational
and sensible person would have stayed put and vegetated. My parents were definitely worried. But invisible strings seemed to be pulling me to Wivenhoe -
and somehow I knew that, despite the many obstacles, my goal was possible and that God would not let me down.
Well, as you can all see, my faith in God was not
misplaced. For by his grace,
which so often works through people, all these difficulties have gradually
been removed. From my boss at
the bank, to the help and encouragement of parents and friends, and to the
wonderful support shown to me at the Colchester Institute, where I am a
student, all have contributed to my being where I am today.
As it stands at this moment, my bank statement is in credit and I
have just finished the second year in my degree course, with, as my
personal tutor says, some quite amazing results.
From the day I first visited Wivenhoe, some 11 years
ago, I felt ‘at home’. Coming
into this church for the first time,
I admired its simplicity. Initially,
I started coming to this church to meet people, to sing the hymns - and to
satisfy some deep spiritual yearning in me, which was only half
acknowledged. If the truth
was known, there was always a sense of inevitability within me that this
day would come. Within the
last two years, God, like a fisherman, has been reeling me in.
The steady flow of God’s love throughout my life can no longer be
received, without my acknowledging it and returning it to glorify his
name. And what a joy it is to
Therefore, in return for God’s faithfulness, I am
honoured and delighted to commit my services to this church, in order to
do God’s work by the example set by Jesus Christ.
As a student, perhaps I will be able to act as an intermediary
between this church and the world of the college student.
And as a disabled person, I will be able to relate to those with
special needs with an awareness and a sensitivity unclaimed by those who
are more able. Very often,
valuable aid can be given by just ‘being there‘.
A word of comfort or a hug at the right time can be a powerful
ministry in itself. If it is
only this that I am called upon to do, then I will still have served God,
and returned his love.
Second testimony: September 2002
Since writing the above account six years ago, I
have, as the expression goes, ‘been through the mill’.
But lets start with the good news first…
I graduated with a 2:1 Anglia University Degree in
November 1998. The
jubilations, following, at least, six years of hard work, were heard all
over Wivenhoe and culminated in a never-to-be forgotten party at the
William Loveless Hall.
Also in 1998, the Congregational Church honoured me
by asking me to be its Secretary. Following
hard on my acceptance was the retirement of Angela Robinson as Minister; I
don’t mind telling you, I was quaking in my shoes at the prospect of
leading a Church for a period without a minister at the helm.
But God was there behind me
He was there telling me that ‘no job is as great as the power
behind it’. The wonderful
loving support I had from Church Members and friends, and from my parents,
who weren’t church-goers, bore witness to this truth – and enabled me
to rise to the challenge. Looking
back, the lessons I was learning in trusting God was to serve me well for
what was to come…
During the summer of 99, I became progressively
weaker following a fall at the local Aqua Springs.
I had striven to walk reasonably well in life and would walk on
average half a mile a day when at college.
But now, my walking was getting slower and slower. There now followed the bleakest period of my life.
I could hardly walk, I was back home with my parents, my hard
fought-for independence was back at zero with my Mum and Dad having to do everything
for me. It was daily intakes
of scripture from my bible that kept my head above water.
If there had been no Jesus there, telling me simply to trust him, I
know I would have drunk myself to death
Many people since have argued that it was my determination which
stopped me from going to the wall, but no amount of given determination
alone could have withstood the complete loss, I experienced, to save me
It wasn’t until November, when I couldn’t walk at
all, that a diagnosis was finally made following scans.
It appeared I had somehow managed to crush a disc in my neck and
the broken parts were pressing on my spinal cord, creating nerve damage.
I would need neuro surgery in a London hospital to replace the disc
with a bone graft taken from my hip.
My initial reaction was one of relief that the problem could be
remedied – and fairly quickly – or so I thought!
Three days before Christmas ‘99, the operation took
place. My Christmas present
from God for the new millennium was a new neck, doubly strengthened by a
screwed-in plate and the spiritual assurance that I would come out of all
this in better shape than what I was originally.
And that has been the measure of my faith these three years now,
with good reason. For I am
now learning to walk correctly for the first time in my life, with the
help of physiotherapists, and, inexplicably, my hands have steadied to
allow me to drink from cups without the use of drinking straws, as I use
to have to do. Progress is at half a snail’s pace, but progress there is;
little by little my balance is returning.
My parents have been utterly wonderful throughout
this trial, looking after me to a degree that is truly humbling.
They have also shared my faith that time, plus commitment in
keeping up with the exercises, will see a great improvement in their
daughter. When I walk that
mile next Easter Monday, I will be walking for them, for the Neuro
Surgical team at the Royal London Hospital, for Dr Pickering and Dr
Elrington, for my physiotherapist Anne Glynn – and for Jesus, who gave
me the faith to ‘hang in there’ with hope for the future.
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