ATLANTA, GA – Did you know that more than one billion people in the world are disabled? Did you know that disabled persons have the highest rates of unemployment, abuse, divorce, homelessness, and suicide?
Did you know that disabled people comprise the largest minority group in the United States? Or did you know that disabled people are also the largest recognized people group?
You probably did not. But now you do. Here is the story of one of them.
Katherine and Jay Wolf were married in 2004. By the time she was 26 in 2008, she had given birth to their first son, James, she was pursuing a new career, and Jay was preparing to complete law school.
On April 21, 2008, their lives changed forever.
Katherine suffered a massive stroke as a result of a ruptured arteriovenous malformation at the stem of her brain. She was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent 16-hours of micro-brain surgery. She remained on life support for 40 days. The stroke had left much of her body paralyzed, including her ability to swallow. It was March 2009 before she began to eat on her own again.
She remained hospitalized for 18 months. She has had 11 more brain surgeries.
“I’m severely disabled. I cannot walk, I’m in a wheelchair, and I cannot drive a car. One of my hands doesn’t work because I lost fine motor movement after my stroke, and I have a lot of significant health challenges.”
In short, Katherine is one of the disabled. What she and Jay have done through their suffering is really the beginning of their story.
Their experiences have birthed the Hope Heals ministry, an outreach to the disabled, and a catalyst to engage local churches to minister hope and healing to the disabled people in their communities. They travel to and minister in churches around the country, they run a Christian camp for families affected by disabilities, and they offer hope and encouragement to many who are experiencing disabilities that were never on their personal wish lists.
Katherine learned that “God’s goodness was not attached to [our] earthly circumstances, and God being good was not based on anything going on in the physical world.”
Jay agreed, explaining that,
“When we are so averse to discomfort, we miss out on something so vital to understanding who Jesus is. We’re missing out on communion with Him and with humanity. We’re missing out on a deep level of compassion if we’ve never experienced hardship.”
Together, Katherine and Jay have learned that Christians can choose to be either victims or overcomers. Jay went on to say,
“If I can be faithful and release some of that control in the smaller disappointments and struggles, it’s going to prepare my heart for when the bigger disappointments come. I won’t be absolutely undone when life doesn’t turn out how I thought it was going to.”
Katherine and Jay have authored two books, Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love (2016, Zondervan) and the recently published Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything (2020, Zondervan).
If you were to meet the Wolfs, they would remind you that disability is a darkness into which we can introduce the Light, the healing He offers, and the sure and certain hope that He is.
Read more news on Christian Living on Missions Box.
- Hope Heals, Official Website
- The Christian Post, Stroke survivor Katherine Wolf on finding God in suffering: ‘There’s hidden treasure in darkness’
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brain surgery survivor shares ‘Hope Heals’ message through books, camps
- POPSUGAR, After Having a Debilitating Stroke at 26, This Mom Is Truly Living Life “Unafraid”