80% of the world’s citizens who experience disabilities, people like Hiwot, live in developing countries. One person in seven has a disability here at home. My small sacrifice of removing one thing from my life (frankly, an unhealthy practice anyway) in order to turn my attention outward and upward on their behalf …well, it seems to make some sense.
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My life as a follower of Christ helps me in my work at Christian Horizons. My work at Christian Horizons helps me in my life as a follower of Christ. I think the confidence and miracles that Peter demonstrate in the first bit of Acts is because he knew who he was following; he knew from whom his confidence came. And I think we focus a lot on leadership and not enough on followership.
It might sound cliché, but I was hired to help others and they helped me just as much, perhaps even more. I learned about acceptance, trust, diversity, and what it meant to have a place to belong. Looking back, I realize God was beginning to teach me about 1 Corinthians 12 and what it means to be whole.
People with developmental disabilities, people like Sam, have taught me that each person matters. These days, we often forget about the one, about individual people – we are so distracted by all the things and the many people which call for our attention.
This vision of what can be is something I long for. It’s as if I’m nostalgic for what will be, and not what was. These days, diversity in nation, tribe, people, and language are things that keep us apart.
Through this interaction I experienced the truth of wisdom offered by Canadian, Christian accessibility advocate, Judith Snow, who shared that everyone has two unique gifts: presence and difference. Through these, every person has the capacity to form half of a meaningful interaction with another person or people.
... people with disabilities are often marginalized as well. Long before Christian Horizons articulated our vision that ‘people who experience disabilities belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected’, Jesus helped others see our crucial need to belong. He makes it possible for people to belong.
In today’s world, people with disabilities are largely ‘othered’, and there’s movement of self-advocacy afoot among them. There’s no telling what can happen when people unite across differences.
Having journaled for years, recently I went to a digital platform for my journal, so I’ve begun to transcribe my old, hand-written journals into the new platform. It’s a painstakingly slow project, and the strange world of COVID-19 has prompted its resumption.
In Bekoji, Ethiopia, a place that housed tools of war is becoming a place that will offer supports which will nourish and grow the community. This is all because its members now rightly believe that their children with disabilities are image-bearers of God. That's a light I can live in.