There is a picture that I simply cannot get out of my head. It has haunted me for the past several days. Please excuse the rough sketch below but it is the best I can do.
I see a single hand reaching up out of a hole. They have fallen in a hole where they find themselves entirely isolated. They are desperate for help. They don’t care who reaches out and grabs their hand they just need a lifeline. They are sinking. They feel that there is no help. With no help, there is no reason to hope.
Nearby in the community, I see a church. If we were to pan out further, we would see multiple churches. We would see people walking by the outreached hand on their way to these churches. The people don’t even see the hand grasping for help. They simply head-on into the churches minding their own business.
The reason I cannot shake this image is that I have gotten one too many contacts from real people who are withering alone in isolation.
- “Hi, I don’t know if you can help or not but I have no friends. I have autism. Is there anything you can do for me?”
- “I haven’t left my house in weeks. I don’t know where to turn for help.”
- “My husband just left me. I’m left to take care of my children by myself. I don’t know what to do and where to find help.”
- “I just lost another job. No one understands me. No one will hire me because of my disability.”
- “My child is bigger than I am now. He acts out with his behavior problems and I am getting beat up on a daily basis. I don’t know what to do.”
My heart breaks as I see people that God created “wonderfully” on purpose for a divine purpose being crushed by society. It is one thing to get crushed by society but it much worse to get ignored by the church.
I am here today to say “we can do better!”
The number one problem in the disability community is the isolation that disability creates. The evil one has used isolation from the very beginning to discourage people. It is one of the old tricks in the book.
Churches, you don’t have to travel over an ocean to meet a need! The biggest mission is in your community. People affected by disability are sinking outside your doorstep. They are reaching out for help. They don’t want your prayers. They want your help. They want to know that you care. A courtesy prayer just won’t cut it anymore.
The fact that only 10% of churches have any intentional disability ministry programming or outreach is simply unacceptable.
There are so many simple things that the local church can do to make a difference in their communities. Disability Ministry is not rocket science. See a need, meet a need. That is it.
I won’t apologize for getting emotional about this. It isn’t like God made this an optional ministry. It isn’t like God is giving away free passes to heaven. The church must start being the church. The church is meant to be the hope of the world. We cannot be the hope of the world if we aren’t extending hope to those that are sinking in our own communities.
It is Ryan’s passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan’s commitment to life and ministry.