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Hunter Street member living for Jesus, says visually impaired want to ‘be involved’comment (0)

October 1, 2009

By Ashley Anderton

Living blind is an inconvenience, but Shannon Dunlop believes her inconvenience is all for God’s glory.

She has not always believed that, however.

Born legally blind, Dunlop explained that as a child, she knew she was not like other children but she never let that stop her from trying to function like the rest of the world.

“I played outside all day and ran like the other kids,” said Dunlop, a member of Hunter Street Baptist Church, Hoover, in Birmingham Baptist Association. “I learned how to ride a bike even though I fell into the sticker bushes. In fifth grade, I even taught myself how to type on a typewriter by listening to tapes.”

Although she made great strides in physically functioning like other children, Dunlop struggled with the emotional pain of being blind. She remembers her childhood and teenage years being extremely difficult.

“In elementary school, some kids thought they would catch blindness by being around me. That hurt my feelings,” Dunlop said. “As a teenager, people tried to take advantage of me. It made me feel stupid, so I began to fight back. I got into trouble during that time.”

She also experienced the pain of living in a broken home. 
When Dunlop was 10 years old, she went to live with an aunt and uncle who were strong Christians. She said they helped her become independent and sowed seeds of God’s truth over her heart.

“They treated me like a person who could see,” Dunlop said. “I learned how to do all kinds of things while living with them. My aunt taught me how to vacuum, scrub counters and clean mirrors by cleaning on a grid system. They also took me to church, and I got involved in youth group.”

Although she became involved in church, Dunlop still struggled to know God personally.   

“I logically believed Jesus was the Son of God. I knew all the answers to Bible trivia,” she said. “But I didn’t believe with my heart. I kept going to church because I thought it was what I was supposed to do.”

After four years of living with her aunt and uncle, Dunlop wanted to move back in with her mother.

“She didn’t have the best influence on me. I quit going to church,” Dunlop said. “I wanted to do everything I could to have fun.”

She ended up married with a child, and in 2005, after six years of rebelling and running from God, she hit rock bottom.

Her husband left her.

She had no place to live, no job and a child to support. All she could do was pray to God.

Dunlop remembers the day her head knowledge of God became a real belief in her heart.

It all began with an invitation to church.

“As a young divorced mother, I knew I needed to get my education,” she said. “I went back to college part time.
During a college health class, the teacher allowed for a 15-minute break. During that break, a friend invited me and my daughter to church and offered to pick us up.”

Dunlop said from the first day she went to First Baptist Church, Tequesta, Fla., she felt as if she belonged.

“I had visited other churches before where people didn’t talk to me,” Dunlop said. “This time, the people were real and didn’t go through the motions. They didn’t pity me. Instead they welcomed and accepted me.”

She was saved and began living for Jesus.

In 2007, Dunlop moved to Alabama and joined Hunter Street Baptist.

Dunlop acknowledged she has been able to grow deeper in her faith through advances in modern technology.

“I love my talking Bible. I have two of them. One goes from chapter to chapter; the other one lets me go from verse to verse. It is my favorite,” Dunlop said. “I can even set a bookmark on a verse. Through using my talking Bible, I am always learning about God.”

These Bibles are just one example of the many resources available to blind and visually impaired believers, but they are something churches and even the blind or visually impaired are often not aware of, Dunlop said.

“People don’t know there is a blind subculture. They aren’t always carrying a cane or walking with a dog,” she said. “Because many don’t know all the resources available, they don’t venture out of their homes. Many become hermits.”

That’s something Dunlop can’t be accused of.

“Being blind and independent is scary,” she said. “But every day I get out of my house is a triumph.”

Dunlop said she wants other blind and visually impaired believers to benefit from things like e-mail, the Internet, Facebook and Twitter as she has. She installed voice-activated software on her computer that reads the text of Web sites she searches as well as the text of e-mails she sends and receives.

“I love being able to keep up with everyone else,” Dunlop said. “I like being able to go to Christian Web sites and keep up with what is going on.”

And that’s all anyone wants to be able to do, she pointed out. “Blind people want to communicate with others and be involved, too. They just need help to find the resources.”

Dunlop said she is thankful for the lessons God has taught her in her life.

“I wasted many years because I didn’t appreciate my blindness,” Dunlop said, referencing one of her favorite Bible passages, John 9. “The man is blind so God could be glorified. That’s me.”

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