How The Church Can Reach Out To The Disabled

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In the United States and most probably in other countries, people with disabilities are often downgraded. You can only imagine what it feels like for a blind person to order in a restaurant or an individual who uses a wheelchair going on a plane ride. The challenges can be every day for these disabled individuals to join in even the simplest activities. Going to church doesn’t exclude this, and sometimes those with disabilities don’t have nice stories to tell when they get home – only that they didn’t find it a place for comfort and connection.

Opportunities to help the disabled are right in our very eyes, especially with finding them a faith community. Here are ways that a church can reach out to them and make them better believers of togetherness, connection, and spirituality.

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  • Create A Space For Them. Most churches place speakers outside to accommodate the people who are not able to get inside during service as well for those who live nearby. It would also be great if a screen were placed in a quiet room, so families with autistic children and other disabled individuals can comfortably watch and listen to the service. This can make all the difference for them and may reduce their worries and anxieties about going to church.
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  • Encourage Them To Join Ministry. Churchgoers naturally look for a connection with others and an opportunity to serve and make a difference. One thing to consider is how the church community can make it accessible for the disabled to get involved as well. As an active member, you can open the topic of encouraging them to join ministry activities, particularly those that are possible for them too. These activities may include providing coffee or greeting service, nursery duty, and powerpoint presentations. There are always many disabled persons who are willing to serve if they are given a chance.

 

  • Provide Accessibility. There was an article that talked about a disabled person in a wheelchair who stopped going to church when he moved into a new place, simply because the restroom was in the basement. This is why church leaders need to make sure that restrooms are made available for those with disabilities. Aisles can also be made wider, so they can make their way to the front when they want to or when they are invited to come up. Ministers or deacons can also be assigned for them so they can make communion comfortably and not miss out on doing what they went there for – to practice their faith.

 

  • Label Reserved Areas. Just as families with autistic kids have an assigned section, the church can also label areas for disabled members. Some of them have sensory processing disorders, which makes a normal-volume of music seem like it’s deafening or warm-colored lights that can be overpowering for them. Providing them with a labeled section that quieter than the church hall or designed with curtains can make them feel comfortable and will encourage them to attend service. For the deaf, it would be designating them to a place where they can see the interpreter.

 

Conclusion

An individual with a disability attends a service in church to learn more about Jesus and find for himself a community that will help him strengthen his faith. He wants to be considered as a part of Christ’s family like the rest, not someone who is broken and needs to be repaired.

If you are disabled, approach a church member, and air your concerns to him, give him a chance to help you. If you are not disabled and desire to help the wounded, talk to a member and find ways to make these adjustments possible for them, so that they will feel welcomed and valued.

 

 

 

How I Turned My Biggest Weakness Into A Strength

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Sometimes we envy the ones who are rich, popular, or extraordinary (why not?). However, most of them have sad stories of their own too. Just like Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Archer Martin. What do they have in common? They’re all famous geniuses. What else? They all have dyslexia.

My son has a language disability. He’s now 20, but when he was much younger, he was so aloof, and he would always stay at the back of the classroom, afraid of speaking the wrong words at the wrong time. When he gets home, he would tell me that he knew what he wanted to say, but it wouldn’t come out the way he thought. I brought him to a speech therapist, and he somehow improved, but still, he had to practice what he would say before speaking in public.

As if it was not enough, he also has an exceptional motor disability. He couldn’t tie his shoelaces by himself, and he would write big letters because he couldn’t adjust his handwriting. His teachers were struggling to teach him and became frustrated when they would fail.

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The Turning Point

When he was 18, he met a friend who had dyslexia, but he was nothing like my son. He was confident, strong, and somehow happy. What he said to him changed the way he saw himself: “Your disability does not define you, but instead, you are shaped by them.”

With his disabilities, my son eventually learned to strive hard to adapt to public speaking and in events where he would have to use his motor skills. Through his journey, he instilled perseverance and patience and became stronger in spirit. Most people think that excellent speaking and writing skills equal to high intelligence. My son would prove that wrong – he has had a remarkable academic career.

Of course, it was not a walk in the park. We were supportive of his dreams and never failed to show him how much we love him. One time, he told me that he was starting to see the strengths of those with disabilities. He had disabled friends in college, and not surprisingly, they all did well, even excelling in some areas like research. He then learned that Einstein dropped out when he was in seventh grade – and look how successful he became!

Each year, he was more determined to prove to himself that his biggest weakness would soon become his greatest strength. He won awards in Science and Math Competitions. I can’t remember when it was exactly, but when he had dinner one night, I noticed that he spoke much, much better, and I was overwhelmed with happiness. He said he was seeing a speech therapist who helped him with memorization and speech. His most significant achievement after graduating from college was being hired to be a Chemistry teacher – weakness turned strength after all.

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Failure Is Not To Be Feared

My son has grown so much, not despite but BECAUSE OF his disabilities, and his compassion for others who are struggling with disabilities and weaknesses is immense. He would tell his students never to give up and always go for their dreams, to face the negativity in them, and turn them into positivity. When he spoke and mispronounced some words, he would shrug his shoulders, smile, and keep going. That’s the spirit that he imbued to his students – and ultimately to us.

For all of you who are struggling with something today and thinking that they won’t succeed, do not give up. Do not fear failure. My son faced defeat and weakness head-on, and he just realized with flying colors.