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Non-verbal confirmand breaks silence in poem

17 May 2024

DIOCESE OF LINCOLN

Charles Blake with the Revd Elaine Turner and the Bishop of Grimsby, the Rt Revd David Court

Charles Blake with the Revd Elaine Turner and the Bishop of Grimsby, the Rt Revd David Court

A MEMBER of the congregation at St Peter’s, Normanby-le-Wold, in Lincolnshire, who has been non-verbal all his life, has indicated that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write a joyful poem for his confirmation service on 27 April.

Charles Blake is 29, and has autism. He has written: “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.”

He had wanted to express his thoughts and feelings about his Christian journey, and to make known how God’s compassion and faithfulness had brought him “peace, purpose and acceptance”. The poem speaks of a child’s lonely nights, of fear, of times when “bad news takes away all the good in life And it’s hard to see in cloudy skies.”

It goes on to describe the moment when everything changed: the “rearrangement of hopes” and time to allow self-belief, when “Most of my life became new.” Now, he stands as “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.”

Mr Blake was confirmed by the Bishop of Grimsby, the Rt Revd David Court, supported by the Revd Elaine Turner, Associate Priest in the Walesby Group. “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,” she said.

It is only in the past few years that Mr Blake has been able to write, through the rapid prompting method (RPM), which uses a system of pointing to letters on an alphabet board. He has indicated: “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 the 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 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 many others who have supported me in my community and home attended the special service. I felt so calm and 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.”

Two local musicians, Karen Beer and her husband, David, turned Mr Blake’s poem into a hymn, which was played at the service. To hear the musical version visit: walesbychurches.org

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