On Thursday 4 August at Sheer, we had the privilege of hearing Charles and Joanne Hewlett speak on their personal journey through suffering.  Charles is the director of Carey Baptist College and Joanne works part-time as a teacher, as well as being a mum.

They shared their personal story of having two mentally disabled children – Janelle, who died at the age of 12 and James who is now 17, but with the mental age of a 6-9 month old.  While pregnant with their third child, Joanne went into labour at just 26 weeks and spent a month on bedrest in hospital before Jessica was born. Jessica is now five, beautiful, fit and healthy and has just started school. 

Charles and Joanne shared their journey of fear, disappointment and hope with humour, humility and grace. They moved us all with their the reality of their struggle, pain and hope and clearly communicated that they are not angels with halos shining from a life of suffering, but normal people who enjoy a good laugh and a good rant. They shared ten ways in which they have learnt to value suffering and challenged us to show more compassion, not only to ourselves, but also to each other in our beautiful but imperfect world. 

Charles and Joanne have just published their story in a book called ‘Hurting Hope’ which is incredibly powerful.

This Sheer event also marked a farewell to Sarah Mazengarb who stepped down from Sheer leadership to travel overseas, at the same time welcoming the talented Lou Grant to the mantle of leadership. Watch this space for more exciting events from Sheer.