By Darryl Budge
Brian Gault was born without arms as one of over ten thousand survivors of the Thalidomide disaster that rocked the world half a century ago.
The sedative drug's ill effects on the unborn were uncovered in late 1961 in the UK. However, still children are being born in Brazil today who have been affected by the Thalidomide drug, as their mothers have taken it for leprosy.
When he learned about this continuing tragedy in a 1993 Brazilian documentary, Brian recalls, "I experienced emotions that I didn't know I still had. Why did God allow it? And hadn't my fellow human beings learned anything?"
Since that day, Brian has campaigned around the world in support of these affected children.
Using his big toes, he typed out his published book "Look, No Hands!" and has given all proceeds to help Thalidomide-affected children.
Upon meeting Brian, you can see he has joyfully embraced his unusual circumstances.
He naturally communicates and gestures with his legs, and has learned to eat, drink, write, and drive a car.
He recalls that from age two, "I was already able to use my feet naturally".
In spite of this, Brian's parents and teachers believed he needed prosthetic arms to have a normal life.
"I thought that meant I would have arms like anybody else," says Brian. "What I got were many years of misery."
Two-year-old Brian waited "lonely and frightened" in hospital for ten weeks before his state-of-the-art limbs were fitted.
Yet he preferred using his feet stating, "I hated those arms!"
His family moved to the Isle of Man in 1970 but the only school that had facilities for him was a boarding school in Belfast.
"I still remember the feelings of abandonment and hopelessness," he says.
After ten frustrating years, his upper school teachers realised his prosthetic arms were inhibiting him.
"I shouted: 'Yippee, no more arms!' I've never had them on since."
That same year, his friend Alan who had cerebral palsy and was a Christian, shared his faith with 13-year-old Brian.
"Alan said something I've never forgotten – that God loved me just as I am, without arms, and with all my anger, frustration and violence.
"He showed in his Bible that God loved me for what I was, not for what I was not and that Jesus died on the cross for all my sins and rose triumphantly from the grave. I became a Christian.
"I wasn't perfect, but I did change."
Brian married May in 2000 and the couple have dedicated their lives to helping disabled children in Brazil and throughout the world. Brian also travels around sharing about God's love.
"We work in partnership with The Brazilian Thalidomide Society (ABPST)" he explains. "We rejoice that 145 disabled children and teenagers have received wheelchairs, scooters, computers, homes, and much more.
"We are also thrilled that in partnership with Wheels for the World – the overseas arm of UK Christian disability charity Through the Roof – we have been able to provide funds towards the cost of refurbishing, spare parts, transporting and fitting of 395 wheelchairs for disabled children, teenagers and adults in Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Kosovo.
"I believe that God will use my disability to help others come to faith in the God who never makes mistakes or is surprised."
Brian believes God allowed him to be born without arms "for a purpose".
"I trust He will use me to take His love to those whom He has created to be 'different'.
"My desire is that people will see something of Jesus' character in an imperfect body. Yet, in the sight of my Lord, I know I'm whole. Still a sinner, but saved by His grace."
Brian and May now work in partnership with Through the Roof, the UK wing of Joni Eareckson Tada's disability outreach ministry. •
To request a free DVD of Brian's story, contact Brian Gault please quote Ref: AUSDVD.
Look, No Hands! is published by Hodder Christian Books.