This issue: Winter 2018

Shelley’s New Book Challenges Readers to Turn ‘Bondage into Tools of Freedom’

Alumni Connections

Shelley’s New Book Challenges Readers to Turn ‘Bondage into Tools of Freedom’

Blake Shelley (G12) has already overcome many obstacles in his 28 years. But when he set out to write about his life and challenges with cerebral palsy, he willingly gave himself another huge mountain to climb.

Shelley, a Christian ministries major while at George Fox, had to type his thoughts, not with hands flowing over a keyboard like a pianist, but one finger and one letter at a time, slowly pecking 98,338 characters to create more than 17,000 words and 102 pages. It took two years.

The result is Breaking Chains: The 6 Links of Turning Bondage into Tools of Freedom, released in September. At its release, Portland television station KATU featured Shelley and declared him an “Everyday Hero.”

“It was a mountain, but I knew it was a mountain that I had to conquer alone,” he says.

It’s nothing new for Shelley, who conquers what seem like mountainous obstacles on a daily basis: putting on clothes, making breakfast, climbing stairs, walking to the next location across the room or down the street – all activities made difficult by cerebral palsy, which diminishes body movement, causes muscle coordination problems and impedes speech.

He hopes his book will help others, even those without physical handicaps, to face their own challenges and set goals.

“Research has shown that people who write down their goals and their dreams are 42 percent more likely to achieve them,” Shelley says. “I agree with that, but I wanted to take it one step further. … You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re at and where you’ve been.”

Shelley’s book was, in part, a way for him to define his own path to helping others. He does that in a part-time role with Young Life as Portland East Capernaum director, with responsibilities that include training leaders, fundraising, building community support and telling young people with disabilities about Christ.

“My experiences at George Fox helped me to grow into the person I am today,” says Shelley, the recipient of a full-need
Act Six scholarship designed to equip urban leaders to make a difference in their communities.

Since graduating he has devoted his time to helping those impacted by disabilities in a variety of ways, including mentorship, advocacy work and educating the public through personal appearances in public schools and other settings.

Since the release of Breaking Chains he has expanded into the corporate world, giving presentations designed to help people overcome challenges and achieve their personal and professional goals.

“I love Young Life and I will always be involved in some way, but I feel God is calling me to share my faith in a different fashion,” he says. “I believe my story can help a wide variety of people and that my love for Christ will be evident in the way I talk and carry myself. My goal is to be a full-time speaker and travel around encouraging others to reach their full potential.”

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