A Capernaum Testimony from Sarah Brintnall

November 6, 2015

This post first appeared on the YL Capernaum Everywhere blog.

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When I was getting started with Capernaum in Baltimore,
Sarah was the first friend I met. She, along with her parents, taught me so
much about what it meant to do ministry alongside of my new friends with
disabilities. She has since graduated from YL Capernaum and is heavily involved
in her local church. I have asked Sarah if she would be willing to type out
some of her thoughts about Capernaum and what it’s like to now be involved in
her church. Her answers are stunning. I hope you enjoy!

What did you love about being involved in Capernaum?

My name is Sarah Brintnall and I am 26 years old. I am
writing this by two head switches because I can’t use my hands to type. The
first thing I loved and still love about being involved in Capernaum is that I
was able to make friends from night one. You see, I am in a wheelchair because
I have cerebral palsy. Due to the kind of cerebral palsy I have, I am unable to
speak, feed myself, and do the daily tasks the average person would probably
take for granted. You know, my first church wasn’t “disability “ friendly at
all except for one or two dear friends like Ms. Kathy (who is an amazing woman
in my eyes ) and my own grandmother (which now my family is taking care of
because she has really bad dementia ), and my own family, nobody made the
effort to learn how to communicate with me. Nobody made their programs
accessible for me. The physical church building also wasn’t totally wheelchair
accessible for me. The only way I could “participate “ in these programs was if
a family member took me and stayed with me to help me to participate in these

What I immediately fell in love with Capernaum is that they
were all in with both feet from night one. My amazing mother was planning on
staying with me that first night at the Goodman’s house where regular middle
school WyldLife club was going on. Because my middle school speech teacher was
actually the one who invited me, when I arrived, my speech teacher and these
two amazing girls told my Mom “see you in two hours!” I also have two
wonderful older brothers who do not have disabilities. Capernaum helped my
parents spend time with them because when I was with my new friends, my parents
now had the “freedom” to spend time with them without always taking care
of me. From night one, my new friends made everything at WyldLife club totally
accessible for me. They made the effort to learn how to communicate with me,
they made the effort and the necessary time that summer to learn how to take
care of me before going to a regular 5-day middle school WyldLife camp at
Rockbridge down in Virginia. I absolutely loved how my 3 new friends did
everything humanly possible down at Rockbridge for me to participate in every
single camp activity just like all the regular middle school campers. Before I
started Capernaum, I only had so many activities to do outside of the typical
school day because of my cerebral palsy. Capernaum literally opened a brand new
world for me and everybody in my world. Thank you Capernaum!!!

How did Capernaum help you grow in your relationship with

Like I mentioned earlier, my first church wasn’t
“disability” friendly at all. The only person outside of my family who
really intentionally took the time to really sit down with me and talk to me
and help me grow in my relationship with Jesus was once again my dear friend
Ms. Kathy. She had 3 kids younger than me. It was hard for her to get out
during week nights to come over to my house to help me grow in my relationship
with Jesus besides after church on Sundays. When I got involved with Capernaum,
again my leaders made everything accessible for me and for my other friends who
also have physical/mental disabilities to help us get familiar with Jesus
Christ and they helped us get familiar with the bible. After about a year or so
of doing regular Young Life club (which is a weekly fun time where we play
games, have a awesome worship experience, and hear a short message from a Young
Life leader about the God who created and loves me unconditionally), I accepted
Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I was at a Young Life weekend when
I accepted Jesus Christ. Before that time, people in Capernaum gave me things
to help me to start my personal journey with Jesus Christ. Things such as: a
bible, good worship cd’s for me to listen to regularly, and personal time with
my Capernaum leaders to talk about Jesus. Another way Capernaum helped me grow
in my personal journey with Jesus Christ was something called campaigners. In
regular Young Life, Campaigners is where you meet before or after club to learn
and grow deeper in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They would
share a meal together out. For my disabled friends and me, my Capernaum leaders
would make another night possible during the week to have campaigners. We would
have a short time for light supper to share together but most of the two hours
of campaigners was teaching time for our Capernaum leaders to teach and
proclaim the word of God and they would proclaim the gospel  to us. We would talk about who Jesus Christ
was and we would talk about why Jesus Christ had to die on a cross for our

Without my Capernaum leaders which played a huge role in my
life, along with my amazing family and a couple other of my amazing friends, I
don’t think I would be the woman I am today without them. Once again thank you

Now that you are older, you have gotten very involved in
church. Can you tell me about the things that you do with your church?

I have to say that my church which is now Grace Fellowship
Church is completely and utterly awesome! My family and I have been attending
Grace regularly for about the past 5 years or so now. There is so much I could
talk about that I can’t decide where to start. First things first. When you
just step inside the doors at Grace Fellowship Church, you automatically feel
accepted and loved just by the awesome greeters who stand at the door every
Sunday rain or shine. What I also I fell in love with at Grace was that the
physical building itself was already totally wheelchair accessible. The
building didn’t look “churchy” which I personally liked and still like. I
think I was around age 22 or 23 when my Mom and I started what is called Women
In The Word which happens almost every single Wednesday morning from late
September to early May with a winter break. That is where my brand new “church
world “ literally opened up and took off running. My first year at Women In The
Word was just amazing.

I will just share 2 or 3 of my experiences. Number 1, when I
started, the classes were broken up into semester classes. My first two
semester classes were taught /led by two amazing women in my eyes. I remember
the very first morning when I “walked “ into that classroom. Ginny Becker and
Christine Beck welcomed me personally. I would say probably after just 2- 3
weeks just from watching my amazing mother communicate with me, Ginny and
Christine picked up how to communicate with me basically all by themselves. I
absolutely loved that experience. Number 2, I “walked “ into class one morning
and without my Mom saying anything, Ginny and Christine immediately knew something
was very very wrong with me. I didn’t smile at them. They stopped what the rest
of the class was getting ready to do and they prayed over me. I had hurt my
back at home the night before.  I
couldn’t stay in class that morning. Christine told my Mom “I will take Sarah
out and I will take good care of her. You stay in class and pay attention and
let the other women take good care of you.” I love my church!

Another thing I have the privilege to get to be involved
with at my church is what we call REST days. Rest day is where we take 4
Saturday afternoons during the school year to love on families affected by
disabilities. Basically what a typical rest day looks like is: first we setup
the entire church for the afternoon. Second, we have a little training from
12-1pm for the volunteers who might need a little help. All the kids with
disabilities come at 1pm and stay until 4pm. The parents leave and they get a
break. We have 4-5 activity rooms where each group will rotate through. When
the parents come back to get their kids, they get a fully prepared dinner which
the kitchen team prepares for them during the afternoon. It is just an awesome
afternoon to see God work! I used to be a “kid “ who participated in rest days
but now I get the privilege of serving kids! Another thing I get the privilege
of doing every year with my church is decorating the whole church building for
the Christmas season. It is just a awesome morning to serve and work alongside
my church friends!

How has it been meeting regularly with women like Sarah
Batley and Kit Elmer?

Totally awesome! I didn’t really meet regularly with Sarah
Batley and Kit Elmer until just this past year. It is a privilege to me that
they would take time out of their busy schedules and busy lives just to hang out
with me. This past year Sarah Batley and I have been meeting once a month to
just hang out and do different activities outside my house. Some activities we
do are: going to the mall to go Christmas shopping, going to the movies and
then lunch afterwards, going to her house and doing different activities like
helping her make cookies for a bake sale, and going to an art museum. This past
year Sarah has been a huge blessing in my life.

This past spring was when I really started to hang out with
Kit Elmer. Kit is such a amazing woman in my eyes along with Sarah. Now that I
am a young woman at 26, I was outgrowing Capernaum and everything that goes
along with that. I kind of feel like God has put these two amazing women along
with some other amazing women like Ginny Becker to bridge that gap for me.
Again, it is just amazing to see God work and it is amazing to watch how God
weaves people in and out of our lives!

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