When the film Cast Away released in 2000, I thought to myself no way I am going to spend money to watch Tom Hanks stranded on an island by himself for two hours. They can’t make a good movie out of that! I guess I was wrong. Tom Hanks almost won an Academy Award for Best Leading Actor that year for his role-playing Chuck Noland.
I did end up seeing the film and it was fascinating! For those of you who didn’t see it let me recap it a bit for you.
Chuck Noland is a time-obsessed engineer that works for FedEx. He specializes in productivity and fixing problems for the company. His work addiction causes problems for his personal relationships. While traveling over the Pacific Ocean on a work detail his plane flies through a violent storm and ends up crashing.
Chuck Noland ends up washing ashore somewhere on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Not only does Chuck wash ashore but so does several FedEx packages that were on board with him. He opens several packages except one that had angel wings printed on it. In one of the packages was a Wilson volleyball.
After an unsuccessful attempt to make fire Chuck accidentally cuts his hand and starts bleeding. In a fit a rage he grabs the Wilson volleyball with his bloody hand and throws it. Later when he sees the volleyball the bloody handprint left on it looks like a face. Chuck becomes endeared to the volleyball and names him Wilson. Wilson is Chuck’s only friend on the island for a period of four years. Can you imagine being so isolated that you felt like a volleyball was your only friend that you could rely on? Some of you reading this may be able to relate!
Finally, Chuck and Wilson devise a plan to escape the island and that they are isolated on. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.
The reason that the movie Cast Away is so fresh in my mind is because of something we recently heard from a mother. She said…
“I feel like I am on an island all alone.”
She is the mother of a child with disabilities.
She feels like she lives the story of Cast Away every day. The reality of disability is that it has thrown her into a place where she feels completely alone.
What do you do when you feel totally isolated like this? One of two things happen. Either you reach the breaking point and you give up or you decide that you are going to do whatever it takes to simply survive day after day!
Isolation is a real problem in the disability community. There are so many people that feel exactly like this mom, totally isolated. Isolation is a powerful tool that the enemy uses to defeat people. When left in isolation people tend to lose hope. Some lose hope more quickly than others. Once hope is lost all is lost.
Isolation is not God’s plan for His people. God created us to live in relationships. First, He created us to live in relationship with Him. Second, He created us to live in relationships with others.
So, what can this mom do?
What can the church do?
There is a solution to the problem of isolation. The solution is being embraced by Jesus through the local church. The local church is the body of Christ. The local church is the hope of the world. The local church is meant to fight for ALL people and remove all roadblocks that keep people in isolation.
Stepping out of isolation takes courage. It is a two-way street. It is not a mere rescue mission where the local church runs out and finds people who are living along in isolation. It is a shared journey where people who are isolated recognize the need for relationship and they reach the breaking point. The point where they will either give up or do whatever it takes to take a step towards survival.
To help end this epidemic we have created a five-step process for individuals and the local church called the Pathway from Isolation to Embrace.
Included in our resources are training videos, a detailed blog series, conference session materials, and printable documents.
In every community, there is at least one mom that is crying out saying…
“I feel like I am on an island all alone.”
Don’t allow people in your community wilt away in a hopeless state of isolation. You are the answer. Let us help.
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.