Friday, October 3, 2008

Bill Irwin to Share Tale of “Blind Courage” in Kennebunk

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

The only blind person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from North Georgia to northern Maine will speak at the Sea Road Church Sunday at 10 a.m.
Billl Irwin took eight and a half months to cover the more than 2,000-mile trek in 14 states in 1990.
Irwin, the author of “Blind Courage”, the account of his life and incredible journey, now shares his message of hope and encouragement with students and adults.
“I try to get the message across that life happens,” Irwin said in a telephone interview earlier this week, and while life goes on, it sometimes “appears as though God doesn’t care about us. That’s not true.”
Irwin said, “We can persevere (with God’s help) and do it with peace and joy.”
“The Trail was a pilgrimage to share God’s love with all those whom I met while hiking,” Irwin said. “My book is an account of my experiences and shares the plan of salvation with every one who reads it. I believe that nothing happens by mistake. And at age 67 I am learning that being a Christian does not guarantee one that there won’t be trouble in life, but it does guarantee one that they will never have to endure their suffering alone again! This is the most important lesson in life except that of salvation.”
Irwin was accompanied on the trek by Orient, his seeing-eye dog and he knows it would have not been possible without God’s help.
Irwin was blinded by a rare eye disease when he was 28 years old and believes that happened so the power of God could be seen in his life and to give others hope.
“Once you know Bill’s story, you will never forget him,” Wayman Spence, chairman of WRS Publishing, said. “Bill was an angry, middle aged man with few prospects and fewer friends. His four marriages had failed. He was an alcoholic, a five pack a day smoker, a manipulator and a user.”
“For 26 years I was an alcoholic and lived my life out of control,” Irwin writes on his web site. “I never even thought of God much less sought a personal relationship with Him. Through the surrender of an addiction to cocaine of my youngest son I was able to get a good look at my life the way God saw it and it was not a pretty picture. I was to the place in my addiction that I was drinking around the clock and thought that I would die without it.
”God dramatically and completely delivered me from the desire to drink,” he writes. “Two months later He delivered me from my five-pack a day cigarette addiction. God provided these miracles without my asking for help or even having a desire to recover.”
Once Christ came into his life everything changed.
“He changed me and helped me overcome all the things that prevented me from being a happy person,” Irwin concludes. “I experienced the peace and joy that only comes when one is willing to surrender and allow Jesus Christ to become first in their life.”
Sea Road Church is located at 140 Sea Road in Kennebunk.
Caption: Bill Irwin, the only blind person to hike the entire Appalacian Trail from North Georgia to Northern Maine will speak in Kennebunk at 10am on Sunday. ( photo)