Guest Author - Monica J. Foster
Harriet Weigel, lovingly known as "Grannybuns" to those in the disability and prayer community because of her signature hairstyle, had a mountain top faith experience in 1990 and has been ministering to people with disabilities, the terminally ill and their families ever since.
She actively encourages faith institutions of all denominations to establish ministries for people with special needs. The founder of Disabilities Ministries, she is involved in several organizations that serve the disability population. She believes that inclusion, participation and recognition of people with disabilities is mandated by God, and acknowledges the fact that her accomplishments are based on God's grace, not on her own endeavors.
Weigel works and lives the philosophy that one's attitude towards life defines not only who he or she is, but the quality of his or her life and she lets the light of her faith shine through all she does for others seeking prayer and encouragement. Currently residing in Oxnard, Port Hueneme area since 1964, Weigel is originally from Minnesota. She is a widow, and the mother of six children, fifteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Weigel's Christian faith is strong for several reasons. She is hearing impaired herself, the parent of an adult with a developmental disability and a domestic abuse survivor. At one point her husband at the time fired a gun close to her head, damaging the nerves in both of my ears. Eventually, she left him, and moved into a small two-bedroom apartment with her son, Bill, who was in his thirties at the time and had a developmental disability. Her survivor's nest was furnished with donated items from family and friends and lived on the income she earned managing an employment service.
When she realized she was having trouble understanding words, she sought the advice of a doctor and discovered she had sustained significant nerve damange in both ears. The combined cost of the hearing aids was $2,300. She could borrow the money for the hearing aids, but she realized she would also be limited in the ability to have dinners with her other five children and would be hard pressed to afford gifts for her 15 grandchildren. She also needed new glasses desperately, the existing ones scratched and the frames broken. "There was no choice, Weigel said, "In order to stay employed I had to be able to hear."
She had not attended church for over thirty years, but knew that the hearing aids weren't the only thing that she needed. "I needed God," she said. Early one Sunday morning she attended Channel Island Vineyard Christian Fellowship, a church her daughter Patty attended. "I knew that I could slip in wearing my tennis shoes and sweats, that my old car would be acceptable, that no one would notice." Just as she settled down to observe the service, something happened. She jumped to her feet in tears. The only words to come to her lips were,"I can't do it anymore God, I can't do it alone."
She sniffled and sobbed like a child and then slipped back into the chair from which she had sprung. When she returned home to her small apartment with her son Bill, the light on the message machine was blinking. Her office had called with an emergency. When she returned the call, she discovered she had won $1,000 in a local drawing. A shopping center in her community had a Cinco De Mayo celebration and Weigel had won their grand prize. She says upon hearing she'd won, "I went to the center expecting to be disappointed, it would be a scam, no good could come from it."
Instead of money, they handed her a basket filled with tightly rolled scrolls of paper. One by one, she unrolled the papers. There was a gift certificate for children's clothes, flowers, food trays, shoes, a camera, film -- even a certificate for new glasses from her own optometrist.
She says of God to this day, "He has brought me into the world of people with disabilities, and the terminally ill. He has given me a life and a calling that is incredibly sweet. There are a dozens other stories to tell you, but this is the most important one. Never be afraid of what happens to you, it's there for a reason."
Weigel is joined by several other people on her prayer team and accepts volunteers to actively pray for those who submit a prayer request to Disabilities Ministries. Just a few members of Weigel's growing prayer team include Bill Medlen, from Weigel's church, Jim Busby in Arkansas who is a traumatic brain injury survivor, and Pastor Steve Thatcher from Washington state.
Disabilities Ministries can be found online at www.disabilitiesministries.com and is a non-denomination, Christ-centered ministry and prayer request network.