Darius Traves preached at St. Hilda's in York on the first Sunday morning of August. It was an unusual sermon: Darius has very little muscular control, a common symptom of cerebral palsy, and so his speech was hard to understand. He stood next to a screen as he spoke, onto which his words were projected. And what words. The congregation sat spellbound for some twenty minutes as Darius explained about the medical mishaps just after his normal birth from a normal pregnancy, and how he began to comprehend, at about 11 years old, the full extent and permanence of his disability. He spoke of his early teenage anger, and the way in which he was rescued in his anger by the friendship of a mentor provided by the Children's Society. He spoke of his faith, and his hopes, and of God.
He responded to questions with confidence and insight, more so than might perhaps be usually expected of someone not yet twenty. By the end of his presentation, many people had begun to tune their ear into the peculiarities of his speech pattern, but in any case, his personal assistant, Diana, provided a constant real-time rendition of what he was saying in conventional speech, so the congregation were able to follow Darius without any problem at all.
These are the very early days of Darius' preaching ministry, and he is going to get better and better. Goodness only knows what he will be like in a couple of years' time, because he is starting so strong. “Inspiring” is an over-used term, but Darius Traves was inspiring. His honesty was raw, and his faithful desire to share his faith and experience of Jesus Christ touched everyone who was there. We left church yesterday feeling appreciably stronger in our faith.
Darius is available to speak in churches across the Diocese about his life and faith. If you would like to invite Darius to your church, email Dariusdj@hotmail.co.uk with Open Doors as the subject heading.
The Revd Tim Jones, Priest-in-charge of St Hilda's, York