Volunteer Spotlight: Heather Major

The Encourager

I have been involved with CFFD Waikato since the lovely late Edith Morris and her husband Noel hosted a hui* at their house in February 2012 with Di and Hugh about CFFD Waikato being resurrected. The group had been in recess for 10 years as I recall and Athaline Morris (no relation) was the previous leader who had to stop due to her health. Andrea Buchanan and Monique Briggs were the first team to pray and lead, then I joined them later. My late husband Glenn was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1997. When Princess Diana died, Glenn was recovering from neurosurgery. The world was grieving but our little world had been rocked off its hinges.

When our daughter Rachel was born in 2002, Glenn had two days left of radiotherapy. A year later it became apparent he had some radiation necrosis, which for him meant things like speech, mobility and fatigue were affected. It was a new aspect of our journey.

My mum had heard of Elevate (or CMWDT as it was then) but I wasn’t sure I could handle the idea of my husband being disabled and having a brain tumour. I heard a quote on the radio today and wonder if I was subconsciously thinking at the time that “the certainty of misery (cancer) was preferable to the misery of uncertainty (not knowing what the disabilities would be and how they would progress)”. That fear didn’t last long and going to camp was a huge education for me. Life is for living. Let’s get on with it!

Heather Major and her daughter Rachel

When Rachel was only a toddler, we went to our first Elevate National Camp. Di Willis (co-founder of Elevate) replied to my enquiry about camp, “Oh some people have had to pull out and they were in the lodge, so clearly you are meant to come.” Rachel’s now almost 21, so it seems a long time ago since that first camp. It was memorable because we were getting our heads around the idea of living with disabilities whereas before that we had been living with cancer. Glenn went to his eternal home in December 2011.

I have been leading CFFD Waikato since 2013. Annette Viviani joined me in 2020 to be my co-leader as my other jobs, minister at All Saints Community Church in Hamilton and part-time chaplain at Waikato Hospital, also keep my weeks full.

CFFD Waikato meets every second Friday at 11.45am. Lunch, fellowship and laughter, celebrating birthdays, discussions, praying for each other, singing and Bible study are all part of what we do. We also like to have visitors come and talk to us.

We focus on what we can do, with each member of the group doing something to participate, and with Jesus at the centre of it all.”

Marc Van de Laar, Cathy Harbour and I take turns to lead the Friday meetings. Marc plays guitar and often our friend Tom Kelly plays keys and Rentia DeVries does solos for us quite often.

Highlights for CFFD Waikato over the past few years have been when we hosted Canon Andrew White (Vicar of Baghdad), and when we went to Mt Maunganui on a bus and used the beach mats so we could go onto the beach.

I continue leading CFFD Waikato today, with Annette Viviani, because we are whānau. I can’t imagine our group not being part of my life! We journey life together, with Jesus as our guide. We don’t get hung up on what we can’t do (e.g. I don’t have much time with two jobs). We focus on what we can do, with each member of the group doing something to participate, and with Jesus at the centre of it all.

*Māori term that means meeting

By Heather Major


Get involved!

How can you be involved with Elevate?

There are many ways that you can become involved
with Elevate Christian Disability Trust.

Prayer – Pray for the ministry, the people, the provision, the opportunities!

Promotion – Let others know about us! Give The Encourager magazine to someone who needs it today. Like and share our different Facebook pages and posts. Read our blog articles and share them with your church, friends and whānau.

Practical – Come and volunteer at the Drop-in centre, regional branches, national or regional camps or at the national support office in Onehunga.

Provision – by donation, automatic payment, sponsorship, bequest, or through goods and services.

Contact us at info@elevate.org.nz to find out more
or to register your skills/abilities so we can link you
in to our next suitable project or event. Also, get in
contact to find out where we have regional branches
around New Zealand.


To make a donation to Elevate Christian Disability Trust using a
Credit Card please visit elevate.org.nz/support-us/
or Internet Banking.

Our bank account details are:
Elevate Christian Disability Trust
Account: 01-0142-0029706-00 (ANZ).
Please include your name and the word “DONATION” as a reference.

A collage of 6 photos of people at different events within Elevate. There are people smiling in a group photo with Di at the centre, there are different people talking and connecting, playing games, speaking on stage and cooking at a BBQ and there's a laughing young boy with his hands in the air riding a zip line. The following words are in the bottom right hand corner: "We would love to hear from you! Have you been encouraged or impacted by one of our articles? Do you know someone whose story would encourage others? Email us at encourager@elevate.org.nz Phone us on 09 636 4763"




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