Disability Issues and the Church: An Honest Conversation

:Talk to me Youtube Video A family with a child with a disability,

What would happen if this family visited your church? Would people engage with this child like a normal eleven year old, or would they talk to her like a baby and show empathy for the family having to raise a disabled child such as this?  Many times we are unsure as to the right approach.  It is important to be educated on various disabilities and informed. The golden Rule; always ask, never assume. Refrain from generalizing. Individual disabilities vary by degree. There are individual differences as well as similarities.

MY Take:

I work for an employment program that seeks out highly employable and qualified persons with disabilities for top companies and government contractors across the country.

One might ask who are people with disabilities.  People with disabilities work in every sector of the labor market.  The majority of these individuals graduate from our universities earning bachelors, masters and PHDs.  Individuals with disabilities marry and raise families as well as serve as vital contributors in our communities. In short, they are just like all of us. Why then, do we constantly have  to debunk old biases concerning individuals with disabilities in the work place as we educate employers?

Why are biases and stereotypes so hard to bleach from our society? What role does the Christian Community if any, have to play in defeating stereotypes and biases?

I sometimes find myself wondering, where is the Church in all of this? If indeed, the Church has a role to play as salt and light in society as instruments of change. The Christian Community is in a position to offer the best of human expectations and change the world for the better. If only the Christian community would take seriously its assignment as instruments of change in society for the greater good: defeating old serotypes concerning people of diverse groups such as people with disabilities.  Have we as the body of Christ (that was bruised and broken in every way) passed on this very important issue of helping  individuals  who do not fit the cookie cutter mold assimilate into society better to in part  be just like all of us (broken and bruised).

My Point: The Uncomfortable Subject

To my point, are we effectively communicating in our churches, who people with disabilities are and helping to dismiss the stereotypes and biases that limit them from excelling to their highest potential? If so, could we do better?

Are the faith stories of  individuals who peruse  professional careers and are vital contributors to their careers, churches  and communities shared in your faith community?  The Christian media rarely covers  the subject of people with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities  are not a one size fits all subject. There are categories of disability. The message is more powerful when it is personalized.  Choose individuals to speak who have a disability whenever   possible.   People with disabilities are a part of the fabric of the tapestry of God’s creation. Their insights are vital for the understanding of who they are and their contributions to the Kingdom of God.

Many churches do have disabilities ministries that serve   families with disabilities. Joni Eareckson Tada truly, has been a trail blazer in her field providing ministry to families with disabilities  worldwide.  

Joni & Friends International Disability Center.

Talk to me:

People with disabilities are people with hopes, dreams and aspirations just like everyone else. It is when we learn to accept our differences will we come to the understand  that we are more alike than we are different regardless of our diversity.

Everyone has a back story; here’s mine.

I am a person with a lifelong disability. I choose to believe my disability has molded and crafted me in such a way to make me stronger and better than I otherwise, would have been.

“For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall ive with Him by the power of God toward you.” 2 Corinthians  13:4

Share with me your thoughts.

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