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Keeton Storts

Born With No Hands

By | Missions Articles | One Comment

Mr. Banda lives in one of the poorest countries in the world.

With an average daily income of less than $1 USD, Malawi residents, like Mr. Banda, do all that they can to prevent going to bed hungry. 

Job opportunities are extremely limited to non-existent, so Malawians are forced to develop trades that can hopefully put food on their tables. For many, that looks like driving a bicycle taxi, growing and selling crops and even doing a form of carpentry. 

But for Mr. Banda, these circumstances are even more dire because he has a rare disability that eliminates almost all hope to provide for himself… 

He was born without hands.  

Not only is he unable to do these physical tasks, but he is identified by his disability within his culture.

In many parts of Africa, individuals with disabilities are viewed very poorly and are not given the same rights as other people. In fact, some African cultures view people with special needs as a curse, so their families will hide them out of shame. They are mocked, ridiculed and at times, treated as if they weren’t even human beings. 

I share this with you, because this is all part of Mr. Banda’s story… Ashamed of his disability, his family deserted him at a young age. But by the grace of God, a missionary couple spotted him one day, while he was begging for money and placed him in the care of their ministry.

Their goal in bringing him into their ministry was not only to give him a warm meal, but to help build him a future. They wanted to help him develop a skill or trade that he could one day use to support himself. Because they knew that one day he would need to step out on his own and he would have culture and a poor economy working against him. 

The odds wouldn’t be in his favor. 

Over time, these missionaries noticed that Mr. Banda was fascinated with art. Each day while the children were out playing soccer, they noticed that he would always be inside drawing.

How you may ask?

By using his feet and his mouth! And his work was absolutely amazing!!

Word quickly spread throughout Malawi of the beautiful artwork of a man who had no hands. Over time, many foreigners sought him out to hear his story and purchase his artwork. I’m very pleased to tell you that today, at the age of 53, Mr. Banda is one of the most well known artists in all of Malawi.

AND he is known for the beauty of his artwork, not the limitations of his disability.

God has given us all unique gifts and callings. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Never forget that! 

God, help us to see people as you see them. As unique, valuable and with purpose. And when we encounter those who cannot see it themselves, may we speak over them! 

By: Keeton Storts, Modern Day

Faith, Not By Sight

By | Missions Articles | 4 Comments

Living in Africa was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The culture…the people…the life change. There are no words that can adequately express the feeling of watching God change the storyline of someones life. It’s truly a miracle.

But before the end of my adventure in Malawi, the locals weren’t the only ones who walked away with a change in their narrative, so did I. 

In February of 2016, I was walking home from visiting some of the locals I had befriended when a group of men followed and assaulted me from behind. Using a small metal pipe, they landed a devastating blow to the back of my head that immediately knocked me unconscious. 

Fortunately, as the men were rolling me over, a gentleman ran up and chased them off before they could inflict anymore damage to me. He then carried me home where I was then taken to a medical clinic for evaluation.  

When I woke up the next morning, all I saw was darkness. The damaging blow to my head had resulted in a brain injury that left me blind. I can’t even begin to communicate all the emotions and thoughts that ran through my head… “Would I ever see again? Would I ever get to see the face of my future wife and children? What church would hire a blind pastor?” 

But even in the midst of all those fearful thoughts, I clearly heard God speak to me…“Keeton, continue your ministry.” 

I remember thinking, “What? That makes no sense. Yesterday I was assaulted. I’m now blind and you want me to go right back out on the same trail and walk two miles blind?”

Immediately God spoke to those thoughts, “Yes, trust Me. I’ll be with you.”

I wrestled over this with God for hours. But in that, I remembered all the times that God has been faithful. He had never once let me down. And I knew that even in this situation, no matter how helpless it seemed, was no different.

So, I obeyed. 

I’ll never forget the moment my security guard walked me over to the trail and the feeling I had when he first let go of my arm. I was so scared. And as the tears ran down my face, I cried out to God that I trusted Him and then took my first step. In that moment I felt an overwhelming peace as God spoke to my heart, “this is true worship.” In that moment I knew everything was going to be okay. My situation hadn’t changed. I was still blind and more vulnerable than ever, but God was with me. And He wouldn’t let me down.

Obedience. Faith. Trusting God with every single step that I could not see. I was learning to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

Over the next eight days I faithfully embarked on this adventure. And every single time, I would never complete it alone. Each day God would send a different person who would call out my name, grab my arm and accompany me the rest of the way. 

And as a result, not only did many Malawians came to know Jesus, but I fell more in love with Him myself! And to top it off, eight days later God fully restored my sight! God is so faithful! I’m so amazed at how He works all things for good if we will just trust Him! 

Today, maybe you’re facing a difficult situation that is overwhelming and God is asking you to step out and walk by faith, not by sight. If that’s you, I want to encourage you because the challenge for many people is that it’s often the start that stops them. It was for me. And I learned that you’ll never finish something that you don’t start.

You don’t have to have the faith to say, “I can see how this is going to unfold in the end.” You just have to have faith to take the first step. 

 

By: Keeton Storts – Partner & Communications Manager, Modern Day

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