Blind musician Ken Medema led us in a service on the theme of “Home” in chapel yesterday. He invited people up to explain what “home” meant to them. Students spoke about home being on a farm, in the mountains of Colorado, or on a journey to Paraguay. In each case, he composed a three minute song about the person’s individual experiences of home. His main message was that it doesn’t matter what our everyday experiences of home are; our home is not a particular place, but our home is where Jesus lies.
Medema started playing at the age of five. When he was eight, his mom decided he should take lessons. “I had a teacher who would push me into improvising,” says Medema. “Every time I learned a piece of music, she would say ‘make up something that sounds like that.’” He first learned he could sing when he began serenading the girls he liked in junior high. He has been singing ever since.
Ken Medema describes his disability not as a handicap, but as a characteristic, “like having a big nose or different size feet.” Medema’s life wasn’t always so easy; it came with a lot of challenges. For example, after he graduated high school there came a lot of anxiety and self-doubt over how he was going to attend college as a blind man. Medema went to Michigan State, a large campus with about 30,000 undergraduate students. He had to memorize the map of campus in Braille. He had to memorize where his classes were located by feel. On the first day, one of his classmates wanted to know where the library was. Medema told him exactly where the library was located. They were all shocked and amazed. “For the first time, I felt maybe it’s going to be alright,” Medema said. Medema still has days when he struggles with his “disability,” yet he has performed for over 40 years.
-Daniel Barnhart, Staff Writer; photo credit, James Paul Kniss