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God's bigger plan ...

Chizor Akisanya tells Mandy Pilz how God sustained her through disability and the trauma of losing a child …

Chizor Akisanya tells Mandy Pilz how God sustained her through disability and the trauma of losing a child …

“Up until my teenage years I hadn’t really been aware that I was different to other people. I’d had such a sheltered and secure upbringing that the thought had never occurred to me.

“My birth, which coincided with the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, took place as bombs were raining down on our community. The chaotic environment in which I was born, along with the poor medical care, resulted in my sustaining irreversible damage to the nerves leading from my neck to my right hand. A situation which could have been relatively simple ended up becoming complicated.

“It was when I was a few months old that my mum noticed my right arm wasn’t moving. I often wonder what it must have been like for her, having to deal with this amid the conditions of war.

“Possibly even worse was the stigma in Nigeria associated with disability. People believed it was the result of some sort of wrongdoing in the family. Added to that it was culturally unacceptable to do things with your left hand and that was the hand I had to do everything with. I remember trying to pay for something in a shop and the lady at the till asking me why I was giving her the money with my left hand. That day I had a major meltdown and I wailed at God asking why he had made me that way.

“My parents did all they could to shield me from the negative aspects of our culture.

“My mum desperately wanted me to be healed, and worried I might not marry or have children. Her anxieties increasingly became a burden for me.

“We came to England for surgery when I was seven and this was the start of my regular interactions with hospitals which extended throughout my childhood and into adolescence. After England we moved to Boston in the USA. I had more surgery and missed a lot of school as a result.

“I did marry and after two difficult births became the mother of two daughters. All along I’d been anxious about having a baby. I’d wondered how I would manage to look after a child. That’s when I discovered that for every challenge there was a solution. Toes can become fingers and you can do a lot with one hand! It was in the small things that I believe I experienced God’s help. The two baby girls I had were so small I could support them with my right arm. Also they were very placid babies, lying quietly while I worked out how to dress them.

“Later we wanted more children but experienced first a miscarriage and then the devastation of a stillbirth at 27 weeks. It was so hard because I actually watched my baby’s heart stop beating on the monitor, then had to go through a painful labour knowing my baby was already dead.

“All these challenges took their toll emotionally, but through it all God’s strength has been very real to me. I experienced an assurance that everything would be all right in the end. As human beings we focus so much on our circumstances, which can make it look like everything is falling apart, but it was at these times that I learnt to be grateful for the things I had such as my wonderful daughters, my husband and my faith in God.

“We want to know that after the storms in life there will be peace – that our circumstances are not spiralling out of control. I don’t know how anyone copes with life without knowing there is something bigger. I would be in despair if I were left to my own devices.

“I think if I had experienced healing my life might not have as strong a message as it does now. I believe God has infinite wisdom and that there is a purpose to my life.

“I believe wholeheartedly that he loves me and that there is a bigger plan.

“When there are tears and questions I believe he knows my tomorrow and I don’t. I just ask him to keep me today in every step of the journey, asking for strength for where I am now and not worrying about tomorrow.”    

  • Chizor Akisanya practised for several years as a solicitor and is now on the pastoral leadership team at Jesus House, London. She is on her way to becoming an advocate for people with disabilities
  • Complete in Him (ISBN: 978-1-909728-41-7) by Chizor Akisanya is published by Instant Apostle and is available from online retailers, Christian bookshops and bookshops. Non-fiction, paperback, 192pp, £8.99.

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