Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

Living and flourishing with quadriplegia


On 7 October 2010, shortly before his 40th birthday, Pentecostal pastor and theologian Shane Clifton had a catastrophic accident. Riding a bike at high speed off a ramp and into a pit of foam rubber, he fractured his spine, severed his spinal cord, and became a quadriplegic.

He spent seven months in Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney before returning home to live with his wife and three sons. Prior to the accident he was very sporty and very active with his children. But with his injury things changed forever.

In this interview on Eureka Street TV he speaks about resilience, self-acceptance, and how to lead a good faithful life in the midst of the ups and downs of the human journey.

His own misfortune forced him to ponder deeply his beliefs and doubts, strengths and weaknesses, and the possibility of flourishing in the midst of human suffering and vulnerability.

Clifton grew up in an atheist household but when he was a teenager, following the illness of a family friend, his family started attending a Pentecostal church. They were all 'born again' and embraced this exuberant style of Christian faith.

When he left school he gained a degree in economics, and then worked as an accountant for a big firm in Sydney. But he felt called to the ministry, and in his mid-20s went to study at a Bible college to become a Pentecostal pastor.

He found that he loved theological studies and academic life. He gained a Bachelor of Theology from the Sydney College of Divinity, then went on to study for his PhD at the Australian Catholic University.

As well as lecturing in theology, Clifton is Chair of the Academic Board and Dean of Theology at Alphacrucis College in Sydney (formerly Southern Cross College), and editor of the Australasian Pentecostal Studies journal.

He is a prolific author, having penned scores of academic articles and book chapters. He also blogs about his experiences with disability.

His PhD dissertation was published as a book entitled Pentecostal Churches in Transition: analyzing the developing ecclesiology of the Assemblies of God in Australia.

He co-authored with Catholic theologian and friend, Neil Ormerod, a book Globalization and the Mission of the Church. His memoir about living with disability called Husbands Should Not Break will be published later this year.

This interview is in two parts — Part 1 above, and Part 2 below.

Peter KirkwoodPeter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity.

Topic tags: Peter Kirkwood, Shane Clifton, quadriplegia



submit a comment

Existing comments

My life fractionally resembles Rev Clifton's. I grew up in a very lapsed Catholic background. A baptised Catholic,incredibly, I had a priestly vocation from 7 years old, and with considerable opposition from relatives became a priest. Am now bedridden hemiplegic in rehab, after treatment for stroke and cancer at that same Prince of Wales Hospital. Not sure I have deepened. Just applying age long, principles of Catholic French Spirituality, e.g. l'abandonment to Gods Holy Will within daily events[those Sacraments of present moment.] [Pere de Caussade SJ]

Father John George | 09 June 2015  

What a wonderful interview. Such honesty. I would love to hear Shane speak in my church

Clare Walsh | 10 June 2015  

Wow. Shane is the 'Real Deal'. Incredible interviews. Rob

Robert Sanasi | 10 June 2015  

Thank you. As a person with a nerve/muscle disability myself and having being prayed for countless times; i can totally relate to Shane and what he is saying. I have great faith in my Lord, however my problems are not going to stop me from moving forward and flourishing in Him. Amen.

Sandra Currie | 27 June 2015