The word disability means lack of ability. When we talk about disabling functions on our computers or smart phones, we are preventing something from happening. So, despite what some may say to try to portray disabilities positively, the fact is that people with disabilities are unable to do something that typical individuals are able to.
Fortunately, that is not the end of the matter. People with disabilities are not relegated to live out their lives as less valuable or less useful. We know this is true, because scripture tells us that in our weakness his strength is perfected (2 Cor 12:9). But, it is only in Christ that these possibilities can be realized, and the church must be the loudest voice proclaiming this message. That is what is behind the theme for the Global Access Conference: Where disabilities and possibilities meet.
Add your voice to proclaim that people with disabilities are created in the image of God and have a place in the body of Christ. Join the conversation on the global disability ministry movement!
Read more:The Global Access Conference, presented by Joni and Friends, will bring together disability leaders, ministers, educators and practitioners from around the world. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to share experiences, forge strong working relationships, and learn how to practically and effectively promote disability ministry in the Christian community. You will learn how to create and pursue advanced disability initiatives within church and cultural communities, and will build lasting networks of support and education throughout the international disability community. http://globalaccessconference.org
This beautiful 27 minute documentary raises these poignant questions: Does God know that persons with disabilities exist? If the answer is yes, what does he expect of us? What does God expect you to do?
A family that is brought together through adoption is a family that reflects the family of Christ. Both are a collection of imperfect misfits that are united together by unconditional love. In both instances children are brought into the fold through sacrifice; one by the sacrifice of the parents and the other by the sacrifice of the Son. And in the midst of the diversity of both families, humility and grace are cultivated.
CBM was founded in 1908 in Turkey as a home for children who were blind and orphaned. Today, CBM is working to restore life to people living with various disabilities in the world’s poorest countries. Their vision is to see an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.
The parable found in Luke 14 has been used by various Christian disability ministry organizations to display God’s heart for people with disabilities. Jesus tells the story of a man who throws a lavish banquet and invites many guests. But, one by one, each of his guests rejects the invitation by giving a poor excuse. In response, the man tells his servants to bring in the “poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Jesus told this parable to a gathering of Pharisees who knew that he talking about the gathering of God’s elect in heaven thorough his use of the banquet metaphor . While the Pharisees thought that these “defective” people would be rejected in God’s Kingdom, Jesus was telling them that they would be the honored guests at his banquet table.
The Luke 14 Workshops offered by CBM are designed to equip churches with practical ideas, skills and strategies for including people with disabilities. There are five different workshops. A single workshop would run well as a short day event, or two workshops could be combined over one longer day. Luke14 workshops are not designed to make people “disability experts,” but to understand practical ways to accommodate different needs in the church. Each workshop includes the fundamental beliefs of Christian disability ministry, and time to work on next steps.
A limited number of FULL Scholarships are available for the Joni and Friends East Coast Ministry and Missions Academy! The CAUSE 4 LIFE Global Missions & Internships educate, train and activate the next generation of disability ministry leaders. This summer CAUSE 4 LIFE is partnering with Jill’s House, one of the leading disability care centers, and McLean Bible Church. You can choose a 4 to 8-week program, which includes a 10-day mission trip to Haiti. Apply online today or share this opportunity with all your friends in college or graduating from High School!
The joy on the face of of these young men and women affected by disability is so clear! That is the effect that a church can have on people with disabilities when they make a little extra effort to show honor, appreciation, and care to those who don’t get it.
I hope you also noticed the joy that was on the faces of those who were showing love to these individuals. It is hard to tell who benefits the most: those receiving the love or those giving the love. The thing we need to realize is that the more effort it takes to serve, the more we learn in the service.
Your church may not have the resources to put on an event like this, but each person in the church can do something to love those who are unloved. What can you do to gather people so that they can love others together? What small way can you honor, appreciate, and care for one person who desperately needs it in your church?
People affects by disability are often the lowest of the low and the poorest of the poor. Where are these people in your church or in your community? What can you do to use the opportunity God has given you to display the love of Christ?
Some passages in the Bible seem to say that God doesn’t like people with disabilities. Joni Eareckson Tada struggled with this early on after she became disabled in a diving accident. But, as she explains below, she eventually realized the purpose of those harsh requirements in the Bible. When we understand God’s heart by looking at the whole Bible, we can be sure that each person with a disability is created in his image, just the way he intended. He is sovereign over everything, including disabilities, and he makes no mistakes and he is never unjust.
“Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed.” Leviticus 21:16-18
When I was struggling to understand God’s view of my disability, it didn’t help matters when I stumbled across Leviticus 21:16-18. I slammed my Bible shut. I knew it — God did have a problem with my handicap. It seemed my impairment offended Him in the same way my wheelchair offended waiters in restaurants!
But then I discovered the true meaning behind these verses. Leviticus 21 is a strict list of dos and don’ts for men entering the priesthood of Aaron. A priest had to be pure, with no physical defects, because he was a physical symbol of a future spiritual reality — an important type of the coming Messiah. God was looking for a physically perfect man as a priest to represent the spiritually perfect man, the Lord Jesus.
This passage speaks to you, whether you’re disabled or not. As part of a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), God welcomes you into His presence, accepting you no matter what your limitations. But when you come before Him in worship, make certain that you are not harboring a blemish of pride or defect of impurity. You may not be tied to strict dos and don’ts, but if God wanted Old Testament people to be pure when they came before Him, surely He expects the same of us.
How I praise You, God, that you accept me with all of my deficiencies and limitations. However, I want to rid my life of those sins that keep me from You, confessing those hidden handicaps that are a blemish on my life. I want to be pure and whole before You.
Exoskeletons are not new, but this is the first time that I have heard of one built using 3D printing. If you are familiar with the process of fitting someone with spinal injuries in a wheelchair, you know how important it is to get a good fit. An improper fit could lead to secondary disabilities or potentially life-threatening pressure sores. But the engineers who designed this exo suit didn’t just make it practical, they made it beautiful. Check out this video for a closer look at the skeleton.
I am amazed at the abilities in science, engineering, and computer technology that God grants us that allow is to create amazing technology like this exoskeleton. I am grateful that his providence and grace make it possible for some people to walk again. This level of mobility tech is not available to everyone, especially those in developing nations. But even in these places, it is possible to give mobility through technology like a wheelchair. This also is an amazing example of God’s providence and grace.
I am excited about how various technological advancements will improve the lives of people affected by disabilities. But I don’t want to forget that the best thing that God has given us to face any trial or hardship is his presence and his promise through his word.
Every human life is sacred because each one is unique and created by God. But in countries around the world, a battle is being fought between the sanctity of human life and the utilitarian reasoning of the quality of life. The rational of the latter is that life is not worth living if it does not measure up to an arbitrary standard of quality.
Joni Eareckson Tada—author, disability advocate, and founder of Joni and Friends—recently wrote an article on the Time website entitled, Belgium’s Euthanasia Law Doesn’t Protect Children From Themselves. She asserts that the choice of whether to die or not is a terrible burden to place on a child. She writes, “Giving little ones a choice usually means that they make decisions based on what they think their families want to hear.” Children have not yet developed the capacity to make a decision of that magnitude on their own. They cannot understand the full implications of the choice that their families are placing before them. This inability to see the whole picture is why we restrict minors from buying and using alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.
But adults are placing this incredible burden on these children because they are succumbing to the cultural deception that there is such thing as a life not worth living. This comes chillingly close to the Nazi ideology of “Lebensunwertes Leben” which means “Life Unworthy of Life.” This lead to the unthinkable human experimentation and slaughter perpetrated by the Nazi regime. This same line of reasoning is now being used to advocate for the euthanization of children.
History has a way of repeating itself. This is becoming increasingly clear as we see the idea of the quality of life and the idea of a life not worth living taking hold in Belgium. As it was in Germany, people facing disabilities are the most vulnerable to these ideas and the first to suffer because of them. The arbitrary standard of the quality of life often leads to the conclusion that a life affected by disability is not a life that is worth living. And with the medical technology that is available today, we see this reasoning extending to babies in the womb. It is estimated that 92% of all women in the United States who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to abort the life of their babies.
As Christians, we have a strong argument against the quality of life. We know there is a creator of the universe who has fashioned each human life with care and purpose. He is sovereign over disease and disability, and his ways are perfect and just. When he allows disease or disability, he has a purpose that is for his glory and our good. We will not see all the things that he will do through hardship, pain, and suffering if we give into a quality of life thinking. We must stand for the sanctity of human life and trust what his word tells us and the promises he has given us in Christ.
God is Able International Foundation Inc. is about “Moving with People Affected by Disabilities.” This great video introducing the ministry asks the question, “Who said they couldn’t…”
This is their mission and vision statement from their website.
To serve as a vehicle of God’s love, compassion, and grace for people affected by disabilities (PADs), and to partner with faith-based groups in providing the means towards their assimilation and transformation.
People affected by disabilities living significant lives and moving towards transformation by playing meaningful roles in Christian churches and communities.
Check out the great things that they are doing in the Philippines! Click the image below.