Meet Saki

by Caz Morton

Meet my black, sassy brother in Christ! We have so much in common – we both love fashion, are black, love Jesus and have bodies of steel. Meet Saki (this story has been written with permission).

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As I was editing the above image, my mate looked over & said jokingly, “wow! Saki is a poser & full of sass. I love this guy!” And we do all love him. I can see how much God has grown him through the relationships he’s built in Kids EE. I can also see how God has protected his life, equipping him for a ministry to a niche of people who are often not reached.

I arrived in Fiji with a wall up – the road in Tonga was bumpy for personal reasons, but Saki flawed me. God unexpectantly put him in my path & I’m so grateful He did. We connected immediately with our love for fashion, and that’s without even sharing and connecting with the deepest parts of our Christian walk.

Saki has plenty of reasons to walk away from God & complain, considering what he has faced in life. I asked Saki about struggles and he didn’t hesitate as his eyes lit up while he shared how God had kept him alive. We bonded over shared, messy health experiences, in particular how people’s attitudes change when you something is physically wrong. Unlike Saki, mine is now invisible, but there was a time my injury was public – when I was in my back brace for 5 months. This caused relationships to change drastically. It was as if I had caught the black plague, apparently unapproachable. Or, as Saki said you get “those pity eyes” as the norm. When an accident occurs, it’s hard to see how it affects your family & friends. You know they want to help, but you have this underlying guilt of ‘I don’t want them to have to go through this or bare my burden’. Guilt: it’s an emotion Satan loves to vandalise and explore, however, it’s a reality you have to come to terms within your own walk. However, there is great power over darkness and shame when you have people who understand your unique situations.

Saki had bone cancer when he was 10. They amputated his leg, although, in hindsight, they could have saved his leg. This angered me so much, but Saki was quick to say “I wouldn’t change it, what God has taught me, I would never change. It’s given me opportunities I never would have had and helped me to see God in a different light.” He had cancer again 13 years ago but praise God for remission over a decade. He shared with me struggles with self-image, his purpose when he was younger and being picked on for being different. I wish my 15-year-old self was in Fiji when Saki was ten – I would have cartwheeled into the bullies face, held Saki’s hand & prayed the bullies away in Jesus name. But he didn’t need a protective sister, he has a protective Heavenly Father. Having those struggles forced Saki to trust God and fix his eyes on Jesus saving plans. He is clothed in the armour of God (Eph 6:10-18) & when adversity comes he’s equipped in multitudes. People better watch out!

Saki is also the eldest of 6 & has a heart for serving in kids ministry (another reason we connected). I think if he could, he would adopt half of India, as I would with Sri Lanka. I love how God has been equipping him for a huge ministry, meanwhile, he resides in Fiji. Please pray for opportunities to share his unique faith story. What made my heart bounce was whilst on mission is when he shared with our Kids group “I can’t sit around worrying when I’m alive. God has helped me survive every day to possibly help someone else in need who might be struggling the same way.” What Joy God brings in the life of my brother Saki, he’s touched my life on so many levels, he is all S.A.S.S. in a good way:

Saki:
Saved
Amputee
Survivor
Servant

God has protected us both in similar ways, the emotional scars are healing & both being restored (2 Cor 5). For now, will continue to survive in Jesus name.

 

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Meet The Writer: Caz Morton 

Adopted by Grace, adopted from Sri Lanka.
Past handstand queen,
Proud member of the fashion police.
Recovering spinal and sternum injuries.
Follow@jeanellen on Instagram,

A Night With Dylan Alcott!

By Caz Morton

Meet Dylan Alcott. Aussie Sport’s Champion. At 26 years, old he holds three World Grand Slam titles and three Olympic gold medals in two different sports… and his list of achievements are only growing. Have you heard of him?

He is a world champion tennis player and you can’t find his players profile on the official Australian open website – but don’t worry, you can hear all about Rogers new ‘dad beard’.

In the lead-up to the Australian Open this year, I am in deep hope that Roger wins another Slam, Novak fails and Sami doesn’t choke. I also wish I could watch legends Nova and Alcott play.

Both Nova and Alcott have much in common. They have both maintained seeded rankings and championship titles at the same time. They were both recently featured together at the Australian open ‘#ANightWithNovak’ charity fundraiser, where Alcott taught the tennis legend a lesson or two in the sport. When Nova was 26, like Alcott, he had three Grand Slams, 100 impersonations, was worth millions and had sponsors pouring thousands of dollars per week into his physical health.

However, there is a big difference between the two champions. Alcott was born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic. But being a paraplegic shouldn’t change your perspective or change the game plan. These two men are equals, both athletes have had to be disciplined and work hard for their achievements. But, are both men treated alike?

Let’s take a step back! Do you recognise Alcott? Unless you are an avid tennis addict or keep up with para sports like myself, you probably haven’t come by him. At the same time, I do feel safe assuming already know who Novak is, without watching tennis or being a tennis superfan like me.

Why am I writing this? I would love to see the Australian tennis federation treat wheelchair tennis with the respect and the value it deserves. I’m not going to wave my pitchfork and expect things will change immediately. It was only last year Serena Williams kicked up a stink about equal prize money for women. It saddens me to compare the $3.7+ million the men & women’s Australian Open winner will receive to the amount allocated to the whole Wheelchair tournaments for 2017 – only $200 000. $200K is the kind of money an ATP or WTA player walks away with if they LOSE a quarter-final.

Is this fair? Sure, wheelchair matches are not as long as men’s ATP, but they still play up to 3 set matches, the same as women, and they use the same courts! However, change is not easy or simple. Alcott (and other wheelchair Quad athletes) deserve way more than media attention if the tennis federation is to make changes.

What needs to change? The consumer needs to care, so the media follows suit. I’m tired of hearing about Hewitt’s relationship issues! I’d want to see more exposure on wheelchair tournaments and to hear the player’s stories. I can’t believe we have a tennis legend sliding across global hard courts winning titles left, right and centre and we are going to miss it. I don’t want to miss it, so why would you?

When I was training at the AIS for gymnastics, I would run around to the display room and join in on the wheelchair basketball and failed every time. It was a good experience being physically limited as a child because it’s not something I’ve understood until recently. Even now, sitting in a neck brace, I have only experienced what he has for 10 days. I also know there is no nerve damage and I will walk again – praise God! I won’t compare my scenario to his, but my injury has given my “2017 Aus Open Superfan Experience” a whole new perspective. Of course, I will still enjoy yelling at the TV with my family and friends. I’ll keep tweeting random tennis facts and reciting stats about the players. But sadly, in my excitement that the Australian open has begun today (would do a dance but, meh, fatigued) is shadowed with the disappointment that I can’t watch Alcott slam it on the court because it’s not being broadcast mainstream.

As a Children’s Pastor, I would love my kids to watch Alcott´s journey on free-to-air TV too. They are missing on the opportunity to be exposed to a great Aussie hero. Do you watch tennis with your kids? Will you share Alcott’s journey this season and talk to your kids about athletes with similar stories? Maybe as you google for ‘trolls’ merchandise you could watch his TedX motivational talk on normalising disabilities to be found at https://youtu.be/tvNOzJ7x8qQt. This video has also made me wonder what we value as a society and how we teach our children about disabilities. Unless you live with one, or know people who do, you’re often not exposed to people with a disability – until you finally are. Do we have these conversations at youth group, are our churches accessible and pastoral towards this specialised area? I’m feeling another post coming on.

I’ve never been to an Aus Open Match. I’ve dreamed of seeing Feds or Serena in a finals match in Melb (oh, my first world problem seems minimal), but I’d prefer to hang out with mates. However, if an Aus Open opportunity came my way, I wouldn’t be passing up the opportunity to sit front row at Alcott’s match. After all, it is the only way I can see him play because mainstream TV minimises para-sport broadcasting!

Image borrowed: Victorian Institute of Sport, Athletes profile, Dylan Alcott.

16106174_10154127497870868_1400488620_o.jpgMeet The Writer: Caz Morton 

Adopted by Grace, adopted from Sri Lanka.
Past handstand queen & proud member of the fashion police.
Recovering spinal and sternum injuries.
Youth and children’s pastor in Wagga.
Follow@jeanellen on Instagram