By Katie Burkhead, Go Now coordinator and CMI at the University of Texas at Austin
I was born with clubfoot. My left leg is shorter than my right leg, my left foot is 2 sizes smaller than my right foot, and my left calf is half the size of my right calf. In my entire lifetime I can only remember three times when someone even noticed that something was different about my leg.
When I was born, the doctor said that I wouldn’t even be able to walk correctly. I was one of the faster students in my grade, played multiple sports and really never seemed to miss a step. Up until this point of my life, this is how I saw God gifting me through the 2 surgeries I had on my leg. I had gone farther than the doctors had ever thought I would go.
Honestly sparks Gospel conversations
This summer I am serving in Kaohsiung‒a big, coastal city in southern Taiwan. I am assisting with English clubs at local universities and am helping lead English camps for elementary and junior high students. One of the activities we use to introduce ourselves is game called Two Truths and a Lie. I tend to always use “I have 2 different sized legs and feet” as one of my true statements. I have done this activity multiple times in our team introductions, but this time I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to share a little more.
I shared that I was born with a clubfoot and demonstrated how it was bent inwards to the class. I shared about my two corrective surgeries and how I really could walk just fine. Lastly, I shared out of obedience that my Mom started calling my left leg my ‘lucky fin’ after the movie Finding Nemo came out. There didn’t appear to be any big reaction, and honestly, I asked God, “Did I hear that correctly? You wanted me to share that?”
We went on with our presentation like normal, and later in the class, I shared with some students about how my parents encouraged me to find truth, which that lead to me to following Jesus. It led to some good conversation about truth and choosing to follow Jesus and I thought, "Alright God. Thank you for letting me talk about my parents and their value of truth in our family."
Amazed by the love displayed by parents
The Professor that lead that class attends the church that we are assisting this summer, called Hope Bilingual Church. Her name is Jennice and she hugged me and exclaimed, "I am so thankful that you shared about your leg!" She proceeded to tell me that she and several of her students were touched by the way that my parents loved me despite my physical imperfection.
Jennice continued to explain that in this honor and shame culture, my clubfoot would have been seen as shameful for the family. However, upon hearing that my family went on to make sure that I felt special because of it by calling it my 'lucky fin,' they were amazed at the love my parents displayed for me. She even shared that as a believer she knew that we should love everyone just as God does, but her mind has a tendency to follow the leanings of the culture, which I could completely relate to. I was completely taken aback and humbled at the way my parents had modeled the unconditional love of Christ for me. They would have gone to so many more lengths for me to walk properly, just as God went to the furthest length so that we could walk with Him again.
God showing His glory through imperfection
I was also taken aback and in awe of the way that God knits our stories together and uses them for His glory. Honestly, if someone were to ask me about my clubfoot, I would have my next few sentences in the conversation memorized with a couple of jokes here and there for my story to be tied up in a cute, little bow. I did not expect God to pull something from my story that I thought I understood as fully and use it to show His glory and His love. My imperfect leg is nothing compared to the imperfection that my sin brings to my relationship with God. He has the one who has loved me in my imperfection and sent Jesus to earth so that I could have a restored relationship with Him.
The healing that we have access to in God is greater than we could ever imagine. I am reminded of the story of Jesus in the crowd and the very sick woman who thought to herself, "If I touch even his garments, I could be made well" (Mark 5:24-34). If we were to just to reach out and touch the clothes of Jesus, we would experience great healing in our bodies. He came and brought spiritual healing and unconditional love.
Through the Gospel, we have full access to our Father‒a Father who has done everything so that His children can be with Him. The spiritual healing that we have access to through the Gospel is relentless. God is seeking to restore people to Himself and to love them deeply and abundantly.
Right now in Taiwan, God is teaching me to point others back to the unconditional love that He already has for them. He is teaching me that He loves in abundance and in greater ways than we could ever imagine. God is teaching me that He has brought me to tell my new friends about how when I reached out and believed, I experienced a spiritual healing that I could never achieve on my own.
So here I am in Taiwan, with my lucky fin and a heart that is asking my friends to reach out and to touch the clothes of Jesus so that they can know the one true God.