God's guiding at Norwich Disabled Christian Fellowship
The Norwich branch of the Disabled Christian Fellowship met on Thursday to hear Mervyn Ivany, from Hellesdon, a Christian and Guide Dog user, give a personal account of his inspiring life, thanking the guidance of both God and his guide dogs.
On the afternoon of Thursday, May 9 around fifteen people gathered together in the bright and accessible hall of Witard Road Baptist Road for the monthly meeting of the Norwich branch of the Disabled Christian Fellowship.
The friendly group enjoys a varied programme of talks, entertainment and activities as well as supportive fellowship over cake and refreshments.
For May’s meeting 70-year-old Mervyn Ivany from Hellesdon, who is a regular member of the group, gave an inspiring and personal talk on the work of Guide Dogs for the Blind, accompanied by his six-year-old guide dog AJ.
Mervyn lost his sight after he contracted measles at the age of five. He said: “I’m told that in the space of three years I went from a seeing, happy, jolly young lad to a blind, cantankerous, miserable, bad-tempered so-and-so.”
His loving family and his faith in God gave him hope and encouraged him to lead a full life. Mervyn said: “My mum brought us up to know and love this wonderful God who helped me a great deal.” Mervyn learnt to read, write and touch type using Braille and worked as a machinist for 14 years at Diamond H’s engineering factory in Norwich.
In 1984 Mervyn got his first guide dog. He is now a passionate advocate of Guide Dogs and has completed various challenges to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind including abseiling down City Hall, driving a car multiple times around a car park and helping to pull a car from Great Yarmouth to Norwich.
Mervyn said: “I cannot thank God highly enough for the gentleman who cottoned on to the idea that a dog could be trained to guide a blind person safely and freely and independently along the street.”
“One or two people have said to me, 'I think you’re amazing for what you do. I couldn’t put my life into the hands of a dog like you do'. And that gives me a very big opening. I say to them, ‘well, its not any dog, it’s a dog that has been very well trained and also my life isn’t just in the dog’s hands; my life is in God’s hands’."
Mervyn concluded his talk by saying to the group: “I thank God that my life is in his hands and I thank him that he has given me these six guide dogs so far to guide me safely and freely along the highways and byways of this world, to the places I want to go. And I thank God for this fellowship that he has enabled me to come and be with you and enjoy the items.”
The Norwich branch of the Disabled Christian Fellowship gives a warm welcome to new members (and carers) of any age and ability at any time. They meet on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm-4pm at Witard Road Baptist Church. Disabled Christians Fellowship is part of the Christian charity Through the Roof.
The programme for the rest of 2019 is as follows:
Thursday, June 13: Musical entertainment from Wroxham-based based duo "Two's Company"
Thursday, July 11: Wit and wisdom - Myra Anderton performs dramatic monologues and more
Thursday, August 8: Teddy Bear's Picnic - make sure you bring your favourite furry friend!
Thursday, September 12: Jenny Edwards M.B.E., Pastoral Support Co-ordinator, to talk about the disability charity Through the Roof
Thursday, October 10: the programme is yet to be arranged
Thursday, November 14: A craft afternoon with an opportunity to make small personalised gifts with some help from those who know how
Thursday, December 12: Join us for our Carol Service
Gail Baverstock leads the Norwich Branch of the Disabled Christian Fellowship and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Mervyn Ivany, AJ and members of the Disabled Christian Fellowship