Sita Roa-amma’s face is pinched and filled with a mixture of sorrow and desperation that only a mother of a disabled child can fully understand. Her story spills out, more heartbreaking with each twist and turn, as she shares the journey to find healing for her 7 year old son, Balaji.
“I have never applied for a government pension because I did not want the stigma of having a son with a disability.” She says. “We paid 1,000 rupees every month to a doctor who told us he could make our son well. But my husband is a day laborer and we could no longer afford such a payment.”
Promised that healing would be possible in a Hindu hospital 6 hours away, Sita-Roa-amma and her husband worked twice as hard for over a year to save up the precious 1600 rupees that the promised “medical scan” would cost. Scrimping and saving every precious coin, they saved 1500 rupees and set out on the journey by train to the Hindu hospital in faraway Chennai.
“The hospital turned us away at the door,” says Sita-Roa-amma. “We had only 1500 rupees and the scan required 1600. We turned and traveled home, our hearts broken. I am so tired. Yet Balaji is my only son and I would give everything I have for him.”
Listening to Sita’s story, our hearts broke. For no scan or medical procedure will ever “heal” Balaji of his disability — a diagnosis that was clear and obvious the moment Wheels for the World therapist Elisa examined him. Balaji has cerebral palsy… and along with his beautiful smile and active mind, his limbs are weak and his muscles contract spasmodically. No amount of rupees will “cure” Balaji, no faraway miracle scan or Hindu practice will remove his disability. In their desperation to rid their family of a “curse” and “stigma” Sita and her husband had given all they had, following the cruelest deception.
But “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” says Psalm 34:18. Only the Truth could set this family free.
“So God made man in His own image, in the image of God he created him…”
“For you created my innermost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, Oh God….”
“This is how God sees your son,” we tell Sita. “He is beautiful, wonderful in the eyes of God, his creator.”
Why has no one ever told me this??? “This is the first time I have heard of this God,” she says with tears that spill over onto her cheeks. “What you tell me is Good News! This is the most beautiful story I have ever heard! Why have I never heard this?”
That day, two burdens were lifted from this precious family’s weary shoulders. As Balaji was seated in his new wheelchair, beaming and laughing, Sita’s physical burden from carrying her precious boy was lifted. But the biggest freedom came as the stigma of disability was lifted by the knowledge that Balaji was created perfectly by a God who oversees every detail, who creates beautifully and by design with no mistakes, who created this precious child in His very own image. Truth set Sita free, banished her hopelessness and the lies that bound her as well as her son.
Watching as Balaji learns to wheel himself around the distribution room independently, Sita’s face bears no resemblance to the distressed woman who entered the room hours earlier. She beams with joy, years fall away as her eyes and smile take on that of a much-younger, carefree woman. “I am so happy!” she cries, as she marvels at Balaji’s dexterity with his new wheels.
A Bible is placed in Sita’s hands. She confesses that she does not know how to read, and yet God’s provision is right there — seated next to her. Her cousin Satyana (sat-yah-na) has accompanied them to the distribution. She jumps up .. “I can read, I can read! I will read the Good News and the story of Madame Joni! We will learn it together!”
No doubt Satyana and Sida are reading and learning on this very day … Scriptures that have already been made real in their own lives through God’s beautiful creation named Balaji.
“He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor … to comfort all who mourn … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair….They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”