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Those Who Have Ears, Let Them Hear: Church Gives Voice to Nonspeaking Charles

A Written Message of Thankfulness and Love

A non-verbal young man has been able to boldly proclaim his love for God through creative writing and the support of song, after writing a poem for his confirmation day that expresses how God’s compassion and faithfulness has brought him peace, purpose and acceptance.

“The fact that I cannot speak means that I do not always have the opportunities that others do. That I can attend church services has meant so much to me.”

Charles Blake

Breaking the Silence

Charles Blake, who is 29 years old and has autism, has been non-verbal all of his life.

Leading up to his confirmation day, Charles was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write a poem that expressed his thoughts and feelings about his Christian journey and how God has blessed him despite his challenges.

This was passionately transformed into a hymn for his confirmation, which was then played to the community who gathered for the service.

Supported, Seen and Heard by the Church and Community

The confirmation service took place at St Peter’s Church in Normanby-le-Wold. The Bishop of Grimsby and Revd Elaine Turner (Associate Priest for The Walesby Group of Parishes) were delighted to support Charles during the service, and many people said what an inspiring and emotional service it was.

They were bowled over by Charles’s poem of testimony. This was an opportunity for Charles to be fully seen and his voice heard.

“I found it very humbling that someone, whose voice had been locked in until very recently, had such a very deep faith that had obviously sustained him over many years.”

Revd Elaine Turner

Charles has written about how much the day meant to him. He did this by pointing to letters on an alphabet board through a process known as RPM, which he learned only in the last few years:

“Being completely accepted so that I could learn more about Christianity and what it means to me has been brilliant. 

I have been supported by Revd Elaine and others so that I have come to the realisation that I have a special place in the universe in the eyes of God.

My faith gives me strength to carry on having positive feelings about my predicament.  I no longer feel anger, realising that God has a purpose for me.  I have come to accept that my autism is not such a punishment.

I have instead recognised that I have got a task, to really help others understand that we can have fulfilling lives.

My day of confirmation was the most fantastic day.  Not only were there people from my family but so many others, who have supported me in my community and home, attended the special service.  I felt so calm and that God was right there with me. 

It was a very proud moment for me, walking down the aisle with my confirmation candle knowing that God was with me forever. I now have confidence in my future.”

Charles’s Hymn/Poem: The Sung Version

Two local musicians, Karen Beer and her husband David, generously used their talent so that Charles could have his poem turned into a hymn.

Charles’s Hymn/Poem: The Written Version

A year was a long time

A long time for a child

A lot of lonely nights

You stood by my side

A little lost, feeling scared

A time of thinking I’d never be heard

Always knowing love, no matter what

Always forgiven, a lot

Bad things do happen to everyone

Happiness can be embraced when it comes

Bad news takes away all the good in life

And it’s hard to see in cloudy skies

In one moment, everything changed

Calming thoughts all through my soul    

A lot of new and wonderful change

When hopes were rearranged

A moment of trusting all your dreams were real

Some time to allow a lot of self-belief

Believe in miracles for they are very true 

Most of my life became new

With this profession of my beliefs

Here I stand, being an adult that really sees  

The many blessings I’m grateful for

And following Jesus is the way that heals

Because in His love people are free

In his love people are free.

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