Nineteen-year-old Grace may have been born without three of her limbs, but she chooses to live without limits.
“My motto is that disability is not inability. With God, all things are possible,” shared Grace.
In the rural Rwandan community where she was born, there were some who saw Grace’s disability as a curse. Family members even pressured her parents to kill her.
“When I was born, my family and relatives thought I was a curse. They tried to convince my mother to stop breast-feeding me so that I would die of hunger. They said that nothing like this had ever happened in their clan before and that as soon as I was born even the livestock started dying,” said Grace.
But Grace’s parents thought she was beautiful from the moment they laid eyes on her.
“When I saw my baby, I just thanked God. I wasn’t shocked because I had never seen a disabled person before. I loved what came out of my womb, that which God created within me,” said Beransiira, Grace’s Mother.
The threats from her family became more real and dangerous. Grace’s own uncle threatened to murder her father if Grace and her curse were not taken from this world. But Birasaira and her husband would do anything to protect their precious daughter.
Then, because he refused to give into his family’s demands Grace’s father was murdered. While working as a security guard, the house he was protecting was broken into and the thieves took his life.
“We think the robbers were organized by his brothers,” whispered Beransiira with a quiver in her voice.
Beransiira had no time to mourn for her husband. In order to protect her daughter’s life, she knew would have to flee her home immediately. With Grace and her four brother and sisters, Beransiira fled across the border to Uganda.
But instead of finding refuge and security in Uganda, they were met with more threats from her husband’s family who lived nearby. They had already traveled a great distance, but Beransiira and her family were still not safe.
That’s when Beransiira met Betty — a woman who would change the course of Grace’s life.
Beransiira turned to Betty, a local Ugandan village leader, for help. Filled with compassion, Betty told her she would care for them.
“When I heard Beransiira’s story, my heart was filled with compassion towards her and I offered to help. Grace came to live with me when she was just 4 years old. At the time she was tiny and very malnourished. She was in bad condition. I already had many children of my own, so I wasn’t sure what life with Grace was going to look like, but I took her in anyway,” shared Jaja Betty, Grace’s guardian.
With Betty’s help, Grace’s family could finally experience the love and safety they deserved. Betty’s authority in the community commanded their protection, allowing Grace to experience a childhood free from the fear of her father’s family.
“I knew that her mother and she were refugees …” Betty said. “I had a big family myself with nine children but we bonded so strongly … that she became family. It’s as if she is my own biological child — we connected that divinely.”
The blessings of joining Betty’s family continued. Betty registered Grace to be sponsored at the Compassion-assisted child development center, providing education and essential medical resources she desperately needed.
More important, Grace began to feel less like a curse and more like a person with a God-given purpose.
“Aunty Betty was the one who registered me in the Compassion program. There, the [program] director loved and encouraged me. He never discriminated against me. And I started to be able to see myself the way God sees me,” said Grace.
From her family’s pursuit of her to the ridicule of other children, Grace has always felt different. She felt less than, left out and bitter for it. But that all changed for Grace because of the love that many in her life, and especially Jesus, have for her.
“Compassion helped me to know God and grow in him deeply. I learned not to live in self-pity, but to press forward and pursue my goals and involve myself in activities with others. And over time, I grew to accept and love myself,” Grace said.
“Being disabled does not mean you cannot make it. The nature of Compassion’s work, working with the church, helps these children to have a close relationship with God. And when Grace accepted how Jesus loves her anyway, that gave her courage. She wants herself to be a lesson so when other people look at her, they know that treating a disabled child in a negative way is very bad,” shared Michael, the program director at Grace’s center.
Grace knows that she can do anything.
This same love that helped root Grace in her identity encourages her to believe in her abilities, as well.
“I think people believe that those of us with disabilities are useless and can’t do much in the earth. To them, we’re not useful or productive. But I’ve never thought like that. Whatever normal people do with limbs, I can do them too. For instance, I cook, I am able to mop our house, I’m able to wash and so I’m not limited. I have a goal of being a journalist one day and doing radio presentation. I believe I can do anything,” proclaimed Grace.
“I think if she had never joined the Compassion program, Grace would not be alive today. When I think back to when she first came to my place, tiny, malnourished, without medical interventions, without school fees, rejected by her family — her mother trying to figure out what to do with her. I think that without the Compassion program she would be dead,” Betty said.
Grace knows that, with God, she and anyone with disabilities can live without limits!
One thing that’s for sure is that nothing can stop Grace. What others say about her won’t define her. Now, she wants anyone with disabilities to know what has made all things possible for her.
“I trust that my testimony had a purpose and a big one at that. To encourage other people like me, termed as disabled, to know they have a purpose, that God loves them and they can make it in life,” exclaimed Grace.
Watch Grace’s limitless story!
You can help children with special needs to live without limits!
Stories and photos were collected by photojournalist Helen Manson. This article was originally published Sept. 18, 2018.
23 Comments |Add a comment
Grace you are a miracle- for God has revealed in you hope and His great love for you ! I pray that you will be covered in blessings and joy.
Through the precious life of Grace, God has given her, her mother, Betty and so many others the opportunity to love God and others while giving the Lord God and Jesus Christ the glory! Her life is a strong testimony of Gods intervention superseding all circumstances. May God continue to bless and provide for Grace and her family and give all of us the courage to step forward and do what we know to be right and rely on God for the results!
Grace, you, your mother, Betty and her family are in my prayers!
Grace is such a beautiful young woman. I greatly admire the love & courage of her mother & Betty to get her to a place where she could flourish & learn about our Lord & Savior. As a former vocational rehabilitation counselor I fully understand the challenges Grace has overcome to become a productive member of her community. I send her my best wishes for a wonderful future in following Our Lord’s will for her life.
Thank you Cameron for your wonderful writing and I imagine an inspiration to Grace herself.
I know God has amazing plans for beautiful & bright Grace and maybe one day we’ll be blessed to read Grace’s book on her life’s story of faith, incredible courage & love from her parents, Betty, and Compassion , and Faiths own perseverance through it all.
My prayers & love are with you all.
This is a wonderful story and may God and Compassion help Grace to meet her goals.
What a wonderful story of grace and love for Grace, a beautiful child of our loving God, and the love of her mother and Betty, and the wonderful inspirational ministry of Compassion International. You are in my prayers every night Grace as I pray for all the children and leaders in the Compassion Child Development Centers located in the Compassion Church Partner located all around the world. God bless ou Grace.
Thanks to the Almighty God .God has a plan for everyone.
This is a beautiful testimony from a beautiful young lady. Just a reminder that all things are possible with God!
Thank you for sharing this story of this beautiful young woman. I love Grace’s smile. She is a true blessing from God.
I was so moved by this story and testimony of Grace. She is special and sure she will be used by God to do great things. ❤️
Grace, you are a testimony of God’s love!! You can do anything you want!! So proud of You!!❤️
Grace is so BEAUTIFUL ❤️
I pray God’s blessings upon Grace and her new family.
I had the utmost privilege to work with children with disabilities. I always told the children how their disabilities did not define who they are but who they are not. They are not a disabled child but a child with a disability. Since I worked in an elementary school I had to secretly tell them how God loved them and had great plans for them.
I know one thing, those children taught me more than I ever taught them. They taught me to persevere under ALL circumstances and to never give up when things are more difficult for them than for most kids.
Grace has reminded me of that. I am so grateful for this story and for Grace and her family. Again, this shows how God uses everything / everyone for His glory. Thank you Grace. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Grace, thank you for encouraging others with your life. Joni Earickson Tada, a quadriplegic, has always encouraged me. I think, if she can make it, I can make it. Thank you for encouraging others with the wonderful love and mercy of God.
I love the story of Grace! Perfect name, for her life is full of the grace of God! Thank you for sharing!
What a powerful testimony !
Thank you, for this beautiful testimony! I can see that you have so much to offer! Keep up your great work!
Grace is very beautiful. I see she will likely soon become the mother of her own children if that is possible.
I absolutely love hearing stories like this!
Amen. May she indeed be as great as God planned it from the beginning!
This is a true example of giving hope to the hopeless, May Gods name be praised
Thanks be to God for Little Grace, and the mother who took them in. I believe every human was created for a purpose; and Grace purpose will be met in Jesus’ name, Amen. Disablity is not inability. No one determine the destiny of a person. I am also a testimony.