Friday, May 18, 2012

An Egregious Gap

What is your church doing to serve the disabled community? I heard some eye-opening statistics recently. Did you know that according to a recent study 41.3 million people in this country are classified as disabled? That's slightly less than 1 in 7 - here in the southern states, the number is closer to 1 in 5!

With that number in mind, consider the fact that 53% of individuals with a disability do not attend a local church in any form. A large part of the reason for this is that very few American churches (less than 15%) have an intentional program of any kind that is geared to service individuals with disabilities.

What a disservice! Not only to the disabled community, but to everyone in the church. There is great power present when individuals with disabilities minister. "When the people who in the world's view who have reason to curse God instead give Him praise, there is great power in their testimony." (Daniel Thompson)

It's not simply having a "ministry" for the disabled in your community - it is allowing those with disabilities to use their gifts and abilities to serve and minister in the congregation as well! I heard an incredible quote the other day from Jerry Borton, the head of the Joni & Friends office in the Philadelphia area. I apologize in advance for any errors in relaying this quote - if they are present, they are mine - not Jerry's:
"To not allow a person with disabilities to use their gifts is like asking them to be a "guest" in the house of the Lord forever. We want to be a part of the body, using our gifts. ... The body just isn't complete ... I don't lack the resources to do whatever God has called me to do. He created me the way that I am as an intentional creation. He can use our disability as His platform to speak His grace, not only in our lives but in the lives of everyone we come into contact with."
Thank you Jerry, for opening my eyes - I pray that the church will see this huge opportunity to minister not only to those with disabilities, but to all of God's people through those with disabilities!

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