Though I was born with a disability, trusting in God’s sovereignty is something I was first taught to do and then grew to love.
I am grateful for a family who taught me that everything God does is for his glory and our good. I was born with a form of Dwarfism called Kniest, causing my maximum height in adulthood to be 42 inches, and carrying with it numerous bone and joint difficulties.
Growing up, my family spurred me on to do as much as I could and enjoy the most out of life. I played sports with kids much taller than me, and I traveled around the world, using a scooter to navigate or asking friends to give me a lift.
I knew each day that although I couldn’t see the big picture living on this side of eternity, God was in control.
Ever since I was a young child, God has graciously revealed his character to me over the course of my life as he has drawn me to himself and tenderly guided me in the plans he has created for me.
Ephesians 2:10 holds numerous promises as it says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (ESV).
This verse became a soundtrack of my life early on, coupled with a firm trust in God’s sovereignty, which is the piece of his character that I cling to and remind myself of again and again.
Surprised by God
God captured my heart to fully surrender my life to him while on a mission trip in 2008 to Guatemala. By serving with local Guatemalans to equip the churches through medical clinics, I discovered that I too was passionate about giving my life to the Great Commission. At the time, I had no idea what that would look like long term, yet now in hindsight, I can see how God was equipping me for my future role with Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO (a ministry of Cru).
In fact, God had been preparing me for this ministry since my childhood.
From the time I was three years old, my mom led a Bible study in our neighborhood near Atlanta, Georgia. She would invite women of any stage of life to study God’s Word. I saw lives changed, I saw women come to Christ, and I was able to see firsthand how a local body of Christ could serve one another in powerful ways. Once out of school, I was able to participate myself, which allowed me to more closely experience the joy of God’s living and active Word (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) as it impacted the people living in my neighborhood.
An additional way God prepared me for this role was through the Spanish language.
During another mission trip to Guatemala in 2013, I realized the Lord was calling me to learn the language and return to Guatemala as an interpreter. I took the next two years to become bilingual.
After that, God presented opportunities for me to interpret with the ministry in Guatemala as well as in the hospitals of Atlanta for Spanish-speaking patients. Now, upon reflection, I can say with confidence that communicating with Spanish speakers has given me one of the greatest advantages to communicate the gospel and to expand my reach when teaching Bible studies.
Wondered If God Would Let Me Quit
The hardest piece of my preparation towards ministry with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) was completing my college education. I can say, however, that overcoming this obstacle truly gave me a launching pad to carry out my role in full-time ministry. After attending college my first semester and encountering various challenges, I had to step back and withdraw from my studies. Because of how discouraged and overwhelmed I was by the experience, I had zero desire of continuing my college education. Nonetheless, I knew deep within me that I needed to resume my studies in some way, shape or form.
After taking some time off, I enrolled in Moody Bible Institute. This time, my classes were all online, and I was working at a slow pace towards a degree in Ministry Leadership. It seemed like this approach could work. However, I was forced to step back from my studies two more times because of migraines and neck pain associated with my disability. I was very discouraged.
My motivation and desire to continue on with school was desperately low until God intervened.
He made it clear that He was calling me to work with Cru, which required a college degree. God then gave me the equipping and encouragement I needed to finish what seemed like a marathon race. Seven years later, I graduated from Moody Bible Institute and was able to transition to full-time ministry!
Would Have Never Dreamed
I now have the joy of working as Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO’s (NBS2GO) Global Translation Coordinator. I get to help other leaders begin and multiply Bible study groups in their communities both locally and globally. It is such a blessing to help others take the model of beginning and multiplying and then equip them to contextualize it for their location. I am even able to help them get simple NBS2GO Bible studies in their heart language! I have had the privilege of working with translators to see these studies completed in 43 languages, all free on nbs2go.com
Through my ministry with Cru, I have been able to see great moments of God’s Kingdom spreading across the nations.
There have been many, and each moment has greatly impacted me! Two recent interactions in particular I want to note. Just in the last few months, I have been blessed to meet Elinor and Baiba. Elinor served in Papua for many years while living with a disability stemming from childhood polio.
I watched a documentary about her life of service and realized I had never previously met—much less fully connected with—another full-time minister with a physical disability. Since getting to meet her, she has personally encouraged me greatly to fully surrender and allow God to work in unique ways for his kingdom based on the way he designed me.
I then met Baiba. Baiba is on Cru staff in Latvia and ministers to people with disabilities. While part of my heart has always wished I could minister to people like myself in deeper ways, I get to see that lived out through Baiba. The heart and mission of the ministries God has called us are beautifully intersecting, and in just a few weeks, I will be Zooming with her Bible study group of women with various disabilities.
I am humbled to have the privilege of encouraging them from afar.
Baiba has also connected me with a local Latvian woman who will translate NBS2GO’s Light Bible Study into Latvian so that we can train the ladies of her Bible study to have a ministry right where they live and share God’s Word with their neighbors!
If you have walked with God for some time, I believe you will see him weaving your past experiences into your current reality of how he is at work in and through you. If your walk with God is just beginning, you have that unfolding to look forward to!
Looking Forward to More Songs He Will Write
What I know through personal experience is that the sovereign ways God equips us are often hard and not the ways we would have chosen if given the option.
I can confidently say, however, that through the physical weaknesses that come from living with a disability, I have seen his strength and sufficient grace every day (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV). I would not change the kind of workmanship that I get to live out (Ephesians 2:10 ESV). I just desire to steward it well and do so for his glory.
Written By—Caroline Grace Schuler
Caroline is on staff with Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO, a ministry of CRU, and loves seeing people come to know Christ. She graduated from the Moody Bible Institute with a degree in ministry leadership.
As part of her passion for global missions, God led her to become fluent in Spanish and to serve as a Spanish interpreter both in Guatemala and in Atlanta. Locally, Caroline is a small group leader in her neighborhood Bible study and enjoys facilitating space for others to study the Word.
Caroline has always believed in God sovereignly creating her as a Little Person and has grown in dependence on God and trust in His perfect plans as challenges are faced.
Edited by David C. Deuel, Nathan G. John & Kevin Avery
Disability in Mission: The Church’s Hidden Treasure outlines a radical change in approaches to missiology, missions, and praxis for the twenty-first-century global cultural context. It explores a pattern whereby God works powerfully in missions through disability and not in spite of it.