On Dec. 4, 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, Boris and Dushka Vujicic were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child, but his arrival in the delivery room that day resulted in both shock and confusion.
Their precious son had no arms and no legs.
Nick Vujicic was born with phocomelia, a rare congenital disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs.
Despite two sonograms during the pregnancy, doctors had failed to detect the condition. The Serbian-born couple — Boris, who was a Christian pastor, and Dushka, a nurse — were utterly devastated, so much so they considered giving Nick up for adoption. Luckily, instead of giving in to their fears, Nick’s parents loved him, supported and taught him about the beauty and power of God’s love.
Eventually, despite hardships and many low points, their son began to flourish.
“There are no mistakes in creation,” said Nick, now 33, who launched the nonprofit Life Without Limbs when he was just a teenager, the first step on his journey toward becoming a world-famous evangelist and motivational speaker.
“If God can use a man without arms and legs to be his hands and feet, then he will certainly use any willing heart,” he added, sharing one of his favorite quotes.
Over the past 16 years, Nick has discussed his unique life story with millions of people around the world, in venues both large and small, and even via television appearances, film (including the short feature “The Butterfly Circus”), and the web. And on Jan. 23, Nick will share his message of hope, faith and perseverance as the keynote speaker at this year’s OneLife LA event in Downtown Los Angeles.
In a recent interview with The Tidings, Nick said that, despite his myriad of daily challenges, God has helped him embrace life with passion, achieve unlikely goals and spiritual fulfillment, and find much-needed strength in his darkest moments.
“Anytime that we have different struggles and the enemy comes against us … and the powers of darkness come against us, we must remind ourselves that there is one thing that the devil definitely cannot do: he cannot create; only God can create, only God created life,” he said. “God has a purpose for each form of life. God has a purpose for everyone, no matter what disabilities or struggles they may have.”
During his childhood, fellow classmates often taunted and bullied Nick for being different, leading him to experience such severe depression that he began to contemplate suicide. At the age of 10, he tried to drown himself in the bathtub.
What saved him in that moment of complete despair was love — upon pausing to think about his family Nick realized he couldn’t cause them such grief.
Today Nick weaves anti-bullying and suicide prevention messages into his overall evangelization efforts. To date, he has spoken at about 800 schools.
“Through the Stand Strong USA campaign we’ve been [reaching out] to over 750 schools in the U.S. — 1.5 million students last year — about bullying prevention and teen suicide prevention programs,” he said, noting that recent statistics indicate that 4,300 teens commit suicide each year in the United States.
“We want teenagers to know that they’re beautiful just the way that they are,” Nick continued, adding that he strongly believes that working with suicide prevention programs goes hand-in-hand with supporting pro-life issues.
In the years following Nick’s own suicide attempt, his strong faith slowly helped him learn to view his physical disability as a blessing, because his challenges compelled him to seek answers from God, and, ultimately, to share God’s message with the world. Before launching Life Without Limbs, Nick began to find much-needed self-confidence by focusing on his abilities, rather than his disabilities.
Although Nick does not have legs, he was born with a small, toeless foot extending down from his right hip, and a slightly larger one with two functional toes on his left hip. By the time he was 6, he was learning how to type using his toes. Further, as a young child Nick began “standing” on his own, and learned to “walk” independently by using a side-to-side rocking motion to get around.
Though that momentum and instinct to move forward in life temporarily slowed during his most difficult years, Nick long ago hit his stride: he and his beautiful wife Kanae have two young children, and his ministry has taken him all over the globe to preach the word of God.
“I’ve traveled to 57 countries, spoken 3,000 times, met with 13 presidents … been on TV preaching the Gospel to 600 million people, but one thing continues to resonate: [knowing that] every single human being [has] been created for a greater purpose, and that their value is not determined by how they look or how popular are … or what achievements they have,” explained Nick. “That’s the sanctity of life, from conception until death. … That’s what I’m all about.”