The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Hydrotherapy, Hiding & Housebound Friends

‘A shy, timid, little mouse.’ That’s how Chris (60) was described by her manager only a year ago. Chris has lived with considerable hearing loss for most of her life and it’s a disability that has done great damage to her self-confidence. ‘Because it’s a disability that’s not particularly visible,’ Chris explained, ‘people can think that I’m either very stuck up, or disinterested if I don’t respond to something they say; when actually I simply just haven’t heard! It can be very isolating.’

Chris has also suffered with arthritis since her late teens, needing numerous joint replacements over the years and regular hydrotherapy treatment. It’s not surprising, then, that Chris tended to feel most comfortable ‘behind the safety of the kitchen counter’ at church functions, leaving other tasks to those more mobile.

That was, until, the Queen’s Jubilee weekend in 2012, when Chris’s small group were involved in hosting a tea party for people from the local area. Quite uncharacteristically, Chris spent the afternoon going from table to table chatting to the guests. And she loved it! That day a seed was planted; perhaps this ‘shy, timid, little mouse’ didn’t have to hide away in the kitchen after all.

Not long after the bunting had been put away, Chris’s small group began LICC’s Life on the Frontline course. And Chris began reflecting on where her personal frontline might be. She knew that it wasn’t at the Christian conference centre where she works part-time, as she doesn’t often meet non-believers there.

‘Suddenly I realised that my hydrotherapy classes are a fantastic frontline,’ Chris explained, ‘because we’ve been in this together and our relationships stretch back as far as fifteen years. It’s here that I’ve earned the right to be able to share with people something of my faith.’

Rather than seeing her hydrotherapy class purely as a place to receive treatment, Chris began to see the opportunities she had to give to her friends there. So when one lady required surgery on her foot and was rendered housebound for several weeks, Chris offered to give her lifts to and from the hospital so that she could still join the group for coffee after the class.

It wasn’t long before her generous actions provoked questions. ‘One day she asked me why I was going out of my way to help her like this. I said I knew that the social side of our classes was just as important as the therapy itself and I saw helping her in this way as an outworking of my Christian faith. It’s fair to say she was a little bit amazed!’

Since that time, many more deep conversations have followed. Chris’s friend has felt able to share about how she lost her faith when her husband died young. Chris has listened lovingly, and, even to the most pain-loaded questions, God has always provided the words for her to respond.

‘The change in my life this year has been remarkable’, says Chris, ‘Because I’m not as able-bodied as most, I used to think that I didn’t have anything to offer. God has been teaching me that it doesn’t matter what we think of ourselves, he really values us – we are his masterpieces and he can use us in our everyday circumstances.

‘We each have so much to give. When you realise that, life is so exciting!’



This story was first published in LICC’s EG Magazine in June 2013

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