It is a long and slow process for me, a well-educated and nondisabled white male, to appreciate and to pay attention to the ways that God is working on the margins. But whether it is in pausing my frantic productivity to gaze for a moment at crisp pin-points of light in the night sky or in turning my attention to a neighbour who does not use words to communicate, I am “Learning how to say ‘Hallelujah’ from the ones who say it right.”
God’s order is not our own, and the upside-down Kingdom is often led by those whom we might prefer to ignore or condemn. “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” the Pharisees demand. I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Pay close enough attention, he instructs, and if we’re quiet we will hear even the voice of these silent rocks.
…we meet countless parents and family members who are battle-worn from advocating for equality and support for their children with disabilities. These parents can be fierce, because they need to be! They are forced to advocate/argue/fight against systems and societal forces that actively discriminate against their children. Too often, they face these same barriers and oppressive attitudes in churches, synagogues, and faith communities that claim to care for all God's children.
Ultimately, though, the way forward [...] will be navigated in relationship with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities themselves. As Whole Community makes clear, it is people with lived experience who are experts on the best way forward. "The most powerful and effective act that people without disabilities can take is to yield to the voice of people with disabilities"
Whether you are new to exploring what accessibility might look like in a church context or have been invested in advocacy and inclusion efforts for years, I highly recommend picking up and reading a copy of Dr. Lamar Hardwick's book, Disability and the Church. This book is somewhat unique in the disability ministry space because [...]
“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. (John 9:39-41 NIV)
This webinar explores how the church as the body of Christ can support families who are raising children with disabilities and share their joy and suffering. Two models of support ministry will be presented, followed by a brief panel discussion and time for questions.
In this third video from David Fitch, he talks about the different ways of engaging with people in three 'circles' of interaction with one's faith community, one's home or small group, and in one's neighbourhood or community. Practicing faithful presence with one another means being present in all three circles.
“People with various disabilities are those who are immensely gifted, obviously, to see things and do things that maybe I can’t see. But the bottom line is that I am able to see God’s presence at work in them… and then they’re able to engage me and a space is opened up, a very unique space. And this is the way that God has created the world, for us to be in these social spaces of transformation.”
Disability and the Way of Jesus is a must-read for anyone who has wrestled with questions around the way God looks to heal people and the world. In particular, for Christians who are looking for an account of healing that takes the Bible seriously but also listens closely to the lives and experiences of people who experience disability.