Only 30 years old, Keaton’s accomplishments far surpass the best of us. He has a master’s degree, he was associate lecturer in mathematics at the University of Newcastle, he won an academic award in the science faculty at Avondale College, he once raised over $6,000 for ADRA Tanzania by riding his pushbike from London to Paris and he enjoys all kinds of sport from table tennis, to basketball, snowboarding, and bungee jumping. Keaton has travelled the world, is married and has a baby girl on the way. But for those of us that work with Keaton, his life is a miracle and an inspiration. Why? Because Keaton is legally blind.
Whatever disability you are struggling with, every individual is sacred and beautiful to God and your unique limitations don’t need to make your life miserable. They can be the very thing by which you inspire others, give hope to those who are hurting and ultimately be a testament to the power on God.
Since the age of 16, Keaton has had less than 10% vision. Diagnosed at the age of 5, Keaton inherited a genetic condition which causes degeneration or damage to the optic nerve (Optic Atrophy). From a very young age, he knew that he would eventually go blind. Today, Keaton enjoys a full and successful life, but he finds it interesting how people react to him doing the simplest of things.
People don’t expect much of a legally blind person and they are surprised and amazed at just about anything I do.
“Some of my work mates have commented that it’s incredible that I can play table tennis. No one finds it amazing that anyone else can play.”
“Society does not really value people with disabilities. Doctors pre-screen unborn babies to test for certain disabilities and parents are encouraged to abort if something is picked up. People with disabilities are not expected to achieve anything and people are often surprised when they do.”
However, as a Christian, Keaton has pondered some tough questions because of his condition. If God is good and He loves us, why do some people have disabilities? Unlike many of us when we come down with the mildest ailment, Keaton’s disability does not stop him from enjoying life. This is surprising even to himself! Far from taking credit for overcoming this enormous obstacle, Keaton says it’s God that gives him strength. When talking about his accomplishments he says, “For most people, it doesn’t make sense, but with God anything is possible and I am proof of that.”
When searching for answers, Keaton researched all the examples of people with disablities in the Bible. The lessons he drew from these stories gave his experience meaning. In John chapter 9 Jesus meets a blind man and his disciples ask, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” There was a common assumption in those days that if you had a disability, you were being punished. Jesus responds, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The apostle Paul also mentions an infirmity that he struggled with, but after praying for healing God answers, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” After studying these stories, Keaton realised how his life is a walking testament to the power of God.
“I now find myself in a situation where I can just live my life doing normal things, things I enjoy and in doing so display the power of God. When God uses a broken person, it is the ultimate display of his power, because it becomes so much more obvious that it is God’s strength and not their own. Just me living my life becomes a witness, I am so lucky and so blessed.”