(Posted May 30th 2018 @ 4:20 PM by: Melody Reever)
In August 2015, God worked things out for me to attend the Deborah Project that was being hosted by Urshan College in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. This conference was designed to help young ladies find their voice and encourage them to fulfill their God-given roles in ministry. This conference literally changed my life.
I had never been to the Urshan College campus but was quickly informed before I got there by someone who knew me well that there would be a lot of physical barriers for me, such as the many stairs that led to the chapel and classrooms. For most, winding staircases would not be an issue, but for me this was a critical factor in getting around because I’m in a wheelchair.
When I was three years old, I was at my grandparents’ house playing in the backyard with my cousin after being in my aunt’s wedding on Christmas Eve 1983. My fifteen-year-old uncle was moving my grandfather’s pickup truck and did not see me. He backed the truck into me.
I still remember that day so clearly, and I can close my eyes and still hear my father and another uncle screaming at my fifteen-year-old uncle to drive the truck forward so they could get me out from beneath it. He had no idea that he had hit me, and when the truck stopped my father and uncle scooped me up and raced to the nearest hospital.
I had dirt on my face and tried to talk on that car ride but sporadically blacked out. After many x-rays and tests, the physicians at the hospital informed my young parents that during the accident, I had suffered a spinal cord injury at the T-10 area. This meant that I could not move or feel my body from my belly button down.
The news was devastating to my family! Being so young, I had no idea what all of this meant. There were many people pouring into my hospital room, and they wanted to see if it was true so they kept touching my legs to see if I could feel or move. I was the oldest child with a seven-month-old baby brother named Eddie. Our twenty-six-year old parents knew nothing about dealing with a special needs child with paraplegia.
My parents were members of a denominational church while growing up but were never faithful. After my accident, they went looking for answers in religion to make me whole again. They tried various churches but did not find what they were seeking. The specialists told my parents that I would never walk again, but they were not willing to accept that diagnosis without a fight.
My aunt attended a Pentecostal church and convinced my parents to allow a Bible study for twelve weeks in our home. Tom and Becky James were patient with my parents’ questions and taught them from the Bible about salvation and the hope of eternal life. Months later, my parents were baptized in Jesus’ name, and on a Pentecost Sunday, my mom received the gift of the Holy Ghost. My dad experienced the infilling a few months later.
My parents came to the realization that God’s strength was enough to get them through every difficult situation with my injury, and that if God chose to not heal me in this life, I would be whole forever in Heaven.
Growing up and living life in a wheelchair was not an easy thing. I developed scoliosis and had to have several surgeries on my back throughout the years. There were several hospital stays and emergency visits, some of which were life threatening.
Public school was rough with the unkind stares and cruel words, but God kept me. As I got older, the kids at school learned to love and respect me, and by the time I attended high school, I was able to bring some of my friends to church.
God also used me as a child with the voice He had given me to sing in church for His glory. Music is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. I learned to play the piano and was involved in various ministries in my church—teaching Sunday school, praise team, children’s choir director, youth cell group leader with my brother, and piano player for our Spanish services. The joy of the Lord in every church service was where I found my strength!
Life was not perfect, but I was blessed to be able to be incredibly independent despite being in a wheelchair. My parents always treated me like my siblings, knowing I was capable of doing many things like my younger brothers, just in different ways. I washed dishes, did my own laundry, cleaned the bathroom, and cooked dinner just like any other child my age. We talked about my future, as did other parents with a girl my age. I dreamed of traveling, going to college, getting married, having children, and having my own home and God-given ministry. I knew I was different, but when I was at home with my family, I was just like everyone else.
At seventeen, I started driving my first car with hand controls, and with some modifications, I learned to fold my wheelchair and put it into the backseat of my Mustang all by myself. Years later, I attended Jackson College of Ministries and went on my first overseas missions trip to England. I also attended the University of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Service degree.
My last year of undergraduate study was when I attended the Deborah Project at Urshan College. After expressing to the staff my physical limitations, they gladly accommodated me; some of their young men students carried me up and down those stairs for every session. I fell in love with the Urshan community and wanted to attend Urshan Graduate School of Theology, but I had no idea how that could ever happen with my disability.
God heard my prayers, and after a few phone calls and emails, a plan was put in motion to install ramps on campus to make it accessible to wheelchairs. Before I knew it, an apartment on campus was being remodeled to meet my needs. In January 2017, I arrived back in St. Louis and became an on-campus graduate school student. The impossible was made possible with God and some of the most loving people I have ever met! The next month, there was a job opening at the Pentecostal Publishing House, and after an interview, I was hired at the United Pentecostal Church International World Headquarters.
It has been a whirlwind since I arrived in St. Louis, but God has given me joy in Him knowing that I am exactly where He wants me to be!
Lorraine M. Orozco was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and currently serves as Urshan Graduate School of Theology student body secretary. She is working toward a Masters in Christian Ministry with an emphasis in Pastoral Counseling. Lorraine is the author of two books: Famous in Battle and He Blessed the Broken. Lorraine is a speaker and singer who loves to travel and meet people.