Stories of Faith
STORIES OF FAITH: A LIFE OF FAITHFULNESS TO THE LORD
Allissah Anderson has turned her disability into a force for the glory of God
Special to FBC Jenks
August 17th, 2023
When it comes to stories of faith, many Christians can point to a certain point in their lives where they felt the call to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.
However, for Allissah Anderson, her faith story began as a newborn when she caught meningitis. While she was able to fight off the deadly disease, the result of the illness was a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
Cerebral Palsy is a disease, which effects brain development. For Allissah, it affected how she uses her leg muscles. Her entire life, she has dealt with the struggle of keeping her balance, extreme muscle stiffness and a lack of muscle tone.
Instead of allowing the disease to define who she is, she has made it her life’s mission to spread the good news of Jesus Christ by showing how God can use anyone, no matter what their circumstance may be.
“My whole faith revolves around that and how God has used my disability to show His faithfulness to other people and how that can be used for His glory,” Allissah said.
“I grew up in a Christian home and was around church all the time and heard about God all the time. I loved going to church. We were very involved. It was like my second home, so God was very familiar in my life.”
When she was the age of six, Allissah began noticing she was different than other people. She realized she could not do everything everyone else could and people began to notice that about her as well.
“It really started to get to me when I was in second grade,” Allissah said. “I realized this is not the kind of life I expected. I started to feel lonely and like an outcast because I couldn’t keep up and noticed the way people talked about me or the way they looked at me. It really conflicted with what I knew about God. I knew that He is loving and He does good and He cares for you, but that was the first time I wrestled with the belief of asking, ‘if God does care for me, then why I am going through these struggles,’?”
God answered Allissah’s question and showed her again and again that He was there for her and when she was seven-years-old, she heard her pastor preach a sermon on having a relationship with God and how He will be a friend by your side, no matter what you are going through in life.
“I remember thinking, you know, I want that and I want someone I can count on who loves me unconditionally and someone who is going to be there through the ups and downs, so right then I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior,” Allissah said. “It was a change in mindset because I had that confidence of having Christ with me in everything.”
The next step for Allissah was figuring out what she was going to do now that she knew Christ is by her side at all times.
As she entered her middle school and high school years, the internal battle continued of how does she overcome all the challenges she faced, whether it was the multiple surgeries (15 total) or numerous rounds of physical therapy. Physical therapy had been a part of her life since she was two months old. She had to work at least twice as hard to do things other people could do without even thinking about it.
God’s work in Allissah’s life might look different than others, but it is just as impactful.
“People used to look at my disability as a point of disinterest or disgust, but God showed me that He was going to use that to show people what He could do for me. You really have to have faith in God when you have nothing else to rely on. Growing up as a teenager, there was a time I started asking, ‘why am I different? Why couldn’t He just heal me’?”
Allissah made the commitment to show people what effort and faith it takes to overcome her struggles.
“If I didn’t have God, I would not be confident in who I am,” Allissah said.
“He has given me so many opportunities to grow spiritually, mentally and even physically. I have been able to go on mission trips out of the country to Mexico and Brazil. When I was six, I wouldn’t imagine that was possible, but God was like no, we are going to make a way for you to do this and you are going to share what I have done in your life with people around the world.”
It was that mindset that inspired Allissah to become a teacher. She loved working with kids and loved helping people. She became an advocate for people who need different accommodations or feel different because they can’t do certain things. Allissah was able to pull from her experiences and provide hope for those people. God has used her disability to show people their value when they are focused on their differences.
Allissah’s father was in the Air Force, so until she was in middle school, she moved around quite a bit. She was born in Mississippi, lived in South Dakota, San Antonio and Virginia before her and her family settled down for good in Amarillo, Texas.
As high school graduation was approaching, Allissah knew she wanted to be a teacher, so she toured different colleges in the region. She had several friends from church who had applied to Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. After one tour, she felt at home and felt like it was a place where she would be encouraged to explore and grow, not just educationally, but spiritually.
During her sophomore year, she met Wriley Anderson through mutual friends. They were in the same friend group that got together sometimes for dinner or to play games. They stayed friends for the next couple of years and then as seniors, Wriley called Allissah to ask if she was single because he was doing a feature in his social club’s newsletter column called Bachelorette of the Week. When she told him she was single, he asked if he could interview her for the column. They met at McAlister’s for what they thought was going to be a 30-minute visit. They ended up staying so long, they were eventually kicked out because the restaurant was closing.
“It just kind of clicked,” Allissah said. “We just loved hanging out with each other. We had so much to talk about.”
It was at that point they realized just how much in common they had, so they decided it would a good idea to try out dating. Nine months later they were engaged to be married.
“We knew pretty quick, this is it,” Allissah said. “It’s really neat to know him as a friend before and then watch God prepare our hearts for that romantic part of it.”
With it being their senior year, there were some decisions that had to be made, as Wriley was set to go to law school and Allissah was set to start her teaching career. Wriley was deciding between Pepperdine and Oklahoma for law school. He ultimately chose OU, so they could both be closer to their families.
“That is what brought us to Oklahoma,” Allissah said. “We moved to Moore. The first three years of marriage were interesting. He was in law school and I was trying to get my teaching license transferred to Oklahoma. We really hit the ground running. We loved it immediately.”
After Wriley graduated from law school, he got a job in Tulsa and they moved to the eastern part of the state in 2019. In 2021, Wriley and Allissah’s son, Kaden was born. It was another milestone for Allissah in her journey.
“That was another big life event I wasn’t even sure could happen,” Allissah said. “God has provided so many people throughout that time that I needed. He gave me the gift of creativity and the ability to work through a problem. We may not be able to do things a certain way, but we can figure it out. We wanted to wait until Wriley was done with law school and we were in a more stable place. I firmly believe God wanted us to be in Tulsa and find our church before we grew our family.”
The Andersons wanted to find a church home that invested in families. One of the reasons First Baptist Jenks stood out was the investment in spiritual growth and the focus on teaching God’s Word.
“When we heard Pastor Rick (Frie), we said this is a man who preaches the Word,” Allissah said. “He stated that everything the church does is reflective of God’s Word and God’s purpose and that really hit home with us. We love our small group. We feel really connected with people who want to get into God’s Word and want to invest in spiritual growth.”
Allissah’s mindset is a direct reflection of how God has been faithful in her life.
“When I go through something challenging, I ask God what He wants to show me and what He wants me to show other people for Him,” Allissah said. “It’s really neat to see how God has been so faithful. The opportunity to go to college, get a job, get married and become a mom … it’s like God is telling me your disability is not going to stop me from using you. It’s very humbling to look back to when I thought of myself as not worthy. He has always reminded me that I am worthy in His eyes because He made me.
“He made me this way for a purpose and He doesn’t want that to change and I have come to a point where I don’t want that to change either. It’s funny how God works. He takes what you think is the worst part of your life, what you think is the worst disadvantage you have and turns it into something He can only use immeasurably more than you thought.”
Allissah relishes the opportunity to get to tell people what God is doing in her life. She loves getting to talk about her experiences, how God has used her to further His kingdom, how He can use others as well and what trusting in Him can do for someone.
“I get this question all the time and I laugh,” Allissah said. “A lot of people ask me why I’m so happy with my circumstances. Honestly, it is because in the beginning I was not, but after I became a Christian, it was clear that I had a bigger purpose. My purpose is not defined by who I am physically. My purpose is defined by how God is going to use me and I have had that perspective even through the difficult times.”