Chris was born with a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes brittle bones. He spent his childhood in and out of hospitals.
He recalls the world as a sterile place: white walls, medical equipment, people in white coats coming and going. His days wove into a pattern of constant surgeries and recoveries.
But Chris has never let his disabilities stop him from doing extraordinary things—especially when it comes to serving others.
He’s served three different agencies of the U.S. government for over 35 years, including the Department of Defense and the Air Force.
Through both his own life challenges and overseas experiences, both through work and mission trips, God steadily grew a servant’s heart in Chris.
When he found out about a Joni and Friends Wheels for the World™ trip for the first time in 2004, Chris stepped out in faith and came to serve. Though he signed up as a mechanic, he quickly discovered that God had prepared him for a different role. With a camera in hand, he saw people with disabilities the way Jesus sees them—the way God saw Hagar amid her plight in the book of Genesis.
“[Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”
In the following years, Chris became the official Wheels for the World photographer for the Joni and Friends New Mexico team. On every trip, and in every interaction with a person or family living with disability, he truly sees people; he delivers the attentive love and empathy of Christ to people desperate for help and connection—and helps them see God.
On one trip to Peru, a young boy came in need of a wheelchair. Like Chris, he had osteogenesis imperfecta. Chris and the team found a wheelchair for the boy that fit him so well he would be able to play soccer with his friends.
Chris watched the boy learn to navigate in the chair. “It’s just like he had been doing it forever,” he said.
Now retired, Chris still lives to give back to others. He points to a powerful truth that has powered him through his life: rather than dwelling on his disability, Chris chooses to see what he can offer to others, through Joni and Friends, and through Christ.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”