Who Has the True Disability?

About 10 years ago, Mark Miller showed up at Trinity. At that time, Mark was a man who knew he wanted to attend church, but hadn’t had a lot of experience with church. At first, he didn’t quite know how to respond to the friendliness he received. He was not a very trusting person because of treatment he had received from people he had encountered in the community. He would share about the times he was mistreated by motorists as they rode by him on his daily 20 mile round trip bike ride to and from work. He would get angry at them and shared his anger with us. However, by the grace of God he never acted on it. God has grown him such that ten years later, Mark is a man with a big heart, great patience and a firm faith in God.

Pastor Gary has shared how encouraged he is that Mark will shake his hand most weeks with the comment, “I love this church!” Mark takes pride in the Scripture he has committed to memory and listens for it during sermons. He was a regular at the men’s retreats to Catalina which he misses greatly.

He has also grown significantly in his understanding of things of God. Often, his responses in Light & Power will cause the leadership to shake their heads at his insight. Some famous lines include,

“If we could stop sinning on our own, there wouldn’t be any need for this Light & Power class.”

In discussing Jesus’ sinless life, he responded, “More than anything, I wish I could be like Jesus and only do what is right.” His most memorable quote to me occurred early in Mark’s tenure at Trinity. He was talking about how a man at his work was very hostile to him, repeatedly swearing at him. Mark said, “I got sick of him, went right up to him, got right up in his face and did what any man would do…I told him he needed Jesus in his life!”

Mark is quick to laugh and share a joke. He loves good- natured teasing, often going by the nick name “Bo Duke” after the Dukes of Hazzard television show, one of his favorites. He likes to refer to himself and my son Josh as “Chipotle Buddies” after the many lunches they have shared together there.

He has held the same job for the past 18 years, working for Sam’s Club assisting customers take their purchases to their cars and collecting carts from the parking lot. During that time, he has been Employee of the Month and has won awards for his service and excellent work ethic. Mark has his own apartment in Redlands and receives assistance from his family in managing his affairs. He and others from Light & Power attend a mid-week Bible study at Immanuel Baptist Church which he loves.

Because of the man he is, I have often asked him to share about his life with students at the University. Mark has perhaps spoken in over a hundred university classes taught by myself, my wife Kathi or Nancy Contrucci. Students love him not only because is he friendly and engaging, he is real. He recognizes that he is there “to help the students to understand people like us.”

One question I always ask him in the course of meeting with my classes is, “Mark, do you have a disability?” The conversation often goes like this.

He pauses for a moment and then says, “No, I don’t think so.”

“How would you know whether someone had a disability?” I respond.

“Well, they couldn’t get along with other people and they’d swear a lot.”

You know, you could put experts in a room together and they would not come up with that definition of disability. But I think that is the true disability and my good friend has it right!

~Jeff McNair

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