Taiwan Church News
October 8-14, 2012
Rev. Schmidt Shares How He Overcame Physical Disability and Achieved a Brighter Life
Reported by Chen Yi-hsuan
Written by Tsai Sheng-hsin
Rev. Rainer Schmidt, a German pastor as well as a Paralympics table tennis gold medal winner, is touring Taiwan for the second time in 3 years. Rev. Schmidt will give 11 seminars in different parts of Taiwan, at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church, to share with people how he surmounted physical disability and his life philosophy. On October 5, 2012, Rev. Schmidt held a press conference at PCT’s headquarters in Taipei. At the conference, he also completed a work of calligraphy with the assistance of renowned calligrapher Chen Shih-hsien. The piece depicted two Chinese characters that represent “Life”. Through these two characters, Chen hopes to encourage those who are disabled to not give up.
Rev. Schmidt’s 11 seminars started in Hualien on October 6. Not only was Rev. Schmidt born without forearms and with a shortened femur, but he is also red-green color blind. However, his parents raised him up with strong Christian faith and the love of God. They helped Rev. Schmidt to face his difficulties and find his own way. Later, Rev. Schmidt not only won 7 medals in the Paralympics, but he also became a pastor.
During his current visit to Taiwan, Rev. Schmidt will share with people how he faced his disabilities and his journey to self-acceptance. Rev. Schmidt hopes to use his own story to encourage those who are struggling in life, no matter if they are teenagers searching for their own value or if they are disabled people. From Rev. Schmidt’s viewpoint, only through facing our struggles and finding a brand new way to see ourselves can we brighten our lives again.
At the press conference, PCT associate general secretary Rev. Kho Sing-doh said that while people in Taiwan have been suffering from a bad economic crisis in the past few years, the government has been doing little to improve the situation. Therefore, the suicide rate in Taiwan is rapidly increasing. Kho hopes that the story of Rev. Schmidt can help people to stand up and have hope again. Rev. Pusin Tali, the PCT Moderator, also believes that Taiwanese people have many worries and concerns these days. He hopes that people here can learn from Rev. Schmidt’s positive attitude and bravely move on with life.
In the Hualien seminar on October 6, about 800 brothers and sisters from different churches in the Hualien region were in attendance. Most people came with their families to listen to Rev. Schmidt’s story. They were all touched by his life journey, beginning with his birth, his struggles as a teenager, and how he found his passion in table tennis. More importantly, they were also moved when he talked about how he accepted himself for who he is. Rev. Schmidt also shared his answers to some common questions people ask, for example, “How do you live without forearms?” His answer always is “just as everyone in the world does.” In Rev. Schmidt’s opinion, the most important thing in life is not what we can do or what we can’t do, but how we use our abilities to live our life and help others.
Rev. Schmidt also shared 3 tips in the seminar to help people when they face something they can’t deal with. First, we should use our tools well. Second, we should ask for help from others when it’s needed. Third, which is also the most important tip, we need to change our way of thinking. When he was a teenager, Rev. Schmidt often compared himself to his younger brother, who was then a good looking lad and a fast runner. The more he compared himself, the sadder he became. However, one day, his younger brother told him, “Rainer, maybe you are not good at many things, but you are better at playing table tennis than anyone of us.” Upon hearing this, Rev. Schmidt started to reconsider the way he looked at himself, and he spent the next three years to completely change his way of thinking. Moreover, he appreciated how his family and friends were always beside him to support him.
At the end of the seminar, Rev. Schmidt used the story of a paralytic and his friends to encourage everyone to not only accompany each other, but also, to reconcile with God. In doing so, we can all receive a rich life from God. Rev. Kao Ching-fu, pastor of Mafowakay Presbyterian Church, praised God for He can achieve every impossible thing. Rev. Kao encouraged everyone that, as long as we are willing to readjust our thinking and rely on God, we can be changed completely.
Photo by Lin Yu-shan