Image shows the cover of the book Able Soul: Empowering God's Spirit Within.  It has the silhouette of a woman in a wheelchair with her arms raised in the air, against a green background.

Lucy Goncalves is an author who lives in British Columbia. I was drawn to her Christian devotional book due to the title, Able Soul: Empowering God’s Spirit Within. I identify with this title because while there are activities of daily life which are very challenging for me because I live with cerebral palsy, I have always felt that spiritual well-being is completely accessible and faith is a level playing field on which I can relate to people with and without disabilities.

Goncalves is a Christian who also lives with cerebral palsy. In the book Able Soul she shares insights with respect to the daily lives of people who rely on mobility devices and attendant care services, such as wheelchair repair and the challenges of asking someone you don’t know to assist you when the people you do know are suddenly unavailable. Readers with disabilities may find her perspective to be a source of validation and affirmation like I did. Able Soul may be even more valuable to people who have little or no experience with individuals who have disabilities and wish to grow their awareness of potential disability related concerns.

You may or may not have a disability. You may or may not be wishing to develop your awareness of disability related concerns. Whatever the reason for your interest in Able Soul there is a strong likelihood that it will help you to grow spiritually. Each chapter begins with a vulnerable vignette from Goncalves’ life followed by an engaging analogy such as relating lack of prayer to a lack of oxygen; a bad connection in her power chair related to a lack of connection with God; equality in terms of needing someone to help her eat a meal at a party and everyone needing Jesus to feed our souls.

The greatest strength of Able Soul is in that while in each chapter Goncalves beautifully weaves her vulnerability with her spiritual wisdom while sharing something about an incident or series of incidents in her own life, the book is very clearly not about her. Rather than simply sharing spiritual lessons that apply to her context and hoping that readers will learn and apply what she has learned on her journey, she generalizes the concepts that she has learned, in order to promote the spiritual growth of her readers with and without disabilities.

Able Soul is a resource that could be used as a devotional for individuals or as the foundation of a group study. Each chapter is well-balanced containing something of Goncalves’ personal experience, an engaging analogy, a Scripture passage and a prayer. You can find Able Soul on Amazon in both print and ebook versions, and some of the chapters (along with a book trailer) are available as YouTube videos so you can listen. You can also read Goncalves’ blog.

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About Chantal Huinink

Chantal lives in Kitchener, Ontario, and has served with Christian Horizons for more than four years in various capacities. She is an experienced motivational speaker, social justice and accessibility advocate. Chantal has her Masters of Divinity and Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier Universityhas and a BA in psychology and human development from the University of Guelph.

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