A Priority Ministry
3 Reasons why we should follow Jesus’ example in giving people
with disabilities a priority within the church today
1. God used people with disabilities to authenticate Jesus’ ministry and church- Reassurance of Presence of God
Matthew 11:2-5 2 “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor”.
2. God uses people with disabilities to affirm evangelism, discipleship and missions- Result of power of God
Luke 14:12-14; 2112 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”21 Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” Matt 4:23-25; 15:30-32 23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. 32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
3. God uses people with disabilities to accomplish His works- Realization of purposes of God
John 9:1-3 1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him
People with disabilities should be given a priority within the church today because they were at the center and heart of Jesus' earthly ministry
The Myths, Mandate and Mission of Inclusion
1. People with disabilities are cursed of God. This is false because according to John 9 disabilities are not a result of personal sins but rather for the purpose of displaying the works of God. According to Matthew 11 Jesus ministry was authenticated by people with disabilities.
2. Only some people have disabilities. This is false because experts tell us that every human being will be affected by either visible or invisible disabilities within their life time. Original Sin is the greatest disability that has physically, emotionally and spiritually disabled the whole human race. Their are physical, intellectual, sensory, learning, social, spiritual, emotional, mental health, chronic and aging disabilities that affect every human being.
3. People with disabilities are not qualified to minister within the church. This is false because God used over 10 people with visible disabilities in the Bible to transform their world including Moses, Sampson, Jacob, Ehud, Mephibosheth, Jeroboam, Naaman, O/T Priest, Zacchaeus and Paul. Also according to 1 Cor 1:27 God chooses the foolish and weak to confound or shame the wise and strong. According to 1 Cor 1:25-29 God always uses the weak to lead and teach the so called strong. God does not call many wise, mighty or noble. According to Matthew 18: 1-7 and mark 10:13-16 "the greatest in God's Kingdom are the least among us". Many people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have a child like faith and thinking which Jesus said is necessary to enter into His Kingdom. God's Kingdom does not belong to proud adults but to humble children. Luke 18:16. The greatest commandment is to love and people with intellectual disabilities have been referred to as people of love or people of the heart.
Every believer and church has a Biblical mandate from Jesus himself to invite and bring people with disabilities to all our social gatherings according to Luke 14:12, 21. We are not only commanded to comfort the feeble minded but also to become as weak to those that are weak.
Jesus primary mission was to equally bring all people into God's Kingdom. According to Matthew 4:23-25; 15:30-32 Jesus gave people with disabilities a top priority during His earthly ministry. Our mission at the Abilities Church Ministry is to follow Jesus' example in treating the least among us as the greatest in God's Kingdom. The Abilities Ministry is strengthening the evangelism, discipleship and missions programs of the church in reaching all people equally and giving the whole Body of Christ an equal opportunity to worship and minister with the church.
Jesus' life, ministry and teachings demonstrate that inclusion is not a
personal vision or calling for some people but rather a universal mandate,
social focus and spiritual priority for the whole church and community!
Honoring the Least Among us as the
Greatest in God's Kingdom
In Matthew 11 the least among us are the lamb, blind, deaf and poor (The disabled). Jesus teaches us that whatever we do unto the least of these we do directly to him. If we reject the least we reject Jesus and if we accept the least among us we accept Jesus. Specifically in today's terminology Jesus is saying that people with disabilities should be first in the church when he said that "the greatest that was born among women was John the Baptist but the least among us (blind, deaf, lame and poor) where greater than him. Matthew 11: 5,11.
The north American Church has honored the greatest among us as the greatest in the church. They have reversed God's Kingdom and replaced it by the world's Kingdom. The materialistic church is honoring the first in this world as the greatest in the church. HUMAN APPEARANCE, PERFORMANCE AND EXCELLENCE REIGN. The church is a body and not a business. It is a community and not a corporation. It is a organism and not an organization. God's kingdom goes against all the norms and expectations of our society. God favors the weak over the strong.
1 Cor 6:4 is shocking. It says something that does not make common sense by society's standards. "If you have any judgments/decisions of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. We have reversed this by setting those that are most esteemed in the church to make all the big decision and lead the church but this passage tells us to do the opposite. Paul understood this when he called himself the "least of the apostles' in 1 Cor15:9 and the "least of the saints" in Eph 3:8". In 1 Corinthians 12:24 it tells us that God gives the weaker members of His Body-The Church greater honour over the stronger member. Does your church favour the weak above the strong? By Mark White
The 4 Models of Integration or Inclusion
We at the Abilities Ministry respect the fact that there are many different approaches to ministering to people with disabilities within the church but believe that the Mutual Integration Model is the strongest model that fully respects the human rights of people with disabilities. Below are the 4 Models of Integration or Inclusion:
1. The Mutual Model- Equally, intentionally and regularly includes and integrates people with disabilities into the regular worship services, programs, events and activities of the church.
2. The Spontaneous Model- Natural integration that is based on everyday responsibilities, routines and choices, like employment, school, recreation, shopping, travel, vacation, church etc.
3. The Reverse Model- Occasionally integrating one group of people into the environment of another group usually for special events, like multicultural festivals, inter-denominational or interfaith events, unity conferences, inclusion concerts and fundraisers etc.
4. The Group Model- Integrates people with disabilities as a separate group of the church but not with the main worship services and programs of the church such as segregated workshops and day programs for people with disabilities do within the community.
Test your level of inclusion!
1.Do you believe people with disabilities are valuable members of our society with some important to contribute
towards the community and church?
2. How do o you equally value people with disabilities in comparison to yourself and your acquaintances?
3. Do you equally invite and include people with disabilities within your social and spiritual gatherings?
4. Are you involved in promoting an official and active program or ministry that supports the community or church in
becoming equally inclusive towards people with disabilities?
5. If disability related issues or conditions affect every area of our human, social and spiritual development, do you
believe this issue should be given a priority within the community and church?
6. How can you personally and professionally improve your level of inclusion towards people with disabilities?
14 Biblical reasons for hosting an Abilities Outreach
1. Jesus' ministry was authenticated by people with disabilities. Matthew 11:2-5. God used people with disabilities
to strengthen the evangelism, missions and discipleship of the early church.
2. The purpose of disabilities is to display the works of God. John 9:1-41
3. We are commanded to invite and bring people with disabilities to all our social gatherings and events. Luke 14:12; 21
4. The greatest in God's Kingdom are the least among us. Matthew 18:1-7; Mark 10:13-16.
5. We are commanded to become as weak to the weak. 1 Cor 9:22; Romans 15:1
6. God favors the weak members of the Body-the Church. 1Cor 12: 24
7. God uses the weak to lead and teach the "so called strong". 1Cor 1:25-29
8. God does not look on the outward appearance but on the heart. 1 Sam 16:7
9. God's power is fully revealed through our weakness. 2 Cor. 12:7-10
10. Jesus did not come for the healthy but for the sick. Matt 9:12-13
11. We are commanded to comfort the feebleminded. 1 Thess 5:14
12. God chooses the foolish and weak to confound or shame the wise and strong. 1 Cor1:27
13. Ministering to people with disabilities was a top priority for Jesus. Matthew 4:23-25; 15:30-32
14. We are commanded not to show favoritism based on abilities, accomplishment and appearance. James 2:1-17
The 5 stages of changing attitudes towards
people with intellectual disabilities
By Jean Vanier
How does your church view and relate to people with disabilities?
1. The first is to react of the disabled with fear of their "abnormal" behavior or disfiguration, to say they are a disorder, and as a result to reject them and seek to get rid of them. This was Hitler's reaction. Isolation Stage
2. The second is more widespread: the disabled are human beings, but they are pitiful little fellows whom we should take care of in big institutions. This was a common reaction in the late nineteenth century. Institutional Stage
3. The third involves getting to know the disabled, understanding their needs and responding with competence. This attitude seeks to help them to grow, recognizing that they are not just pitiable but they are human beings like us, who elicits respect and compassion. You find this reaction a lot in places like Canada, where we have integrated schools and so on. People with disabilities can grow in maturity and autonomy if they are helped and respected. Over 90% of people and organizations are at this stage. Many special needs or disability ministries foster this kind of separated inclusion approach by segregating people with disabilities into their own services and programs and not fully and regularly integrating them into the regular worship services, events programs of the church. Inclusion is a concept or program but not a personal reality. In-service Stage
4. The fourth stage is wonderment and thanksgiving: we discover that, by becoming close to disabled people and entering an authentic relationship with them, they transform us. They help us to move from the desire for personal success and power to a desire to be with those who are weak and help them to be just as they are, knowing that we receive as much or even more than we give. Identification Stage
5. In the fifth stage, which is close to the fourth, we see the face of God within the disabled. Their presence is a sign of God, who has chosen "the foolish things in order to confound the strong, the proud, and so-called wise of our world". And so those we see as weak or marginalized are, in fact, the most worthy and powerful among us: they bring us closer to God. They turn our world upside down! Jesus commands us to follow this stage. Inspiration Stage
The Hollywood mentality in the Church
Many churches/Christians have embraced the Hollywood mentality in favoring the beautiful, gifted and smart but God is not impressed with our looks, talent or knowledge but with our honesty, humility and love. God does not look on the outward appearance but on the heart. God always uses the weak to teach and lead the "so called" strong. Jesus taught us that we must receive the kingdom of God as little children and that the least among us are the greatest in God's kingdom. We should favor the physically and intellectual weak over the strong. God always uses the foolish things of the world to confound the "so called" wise and mighty. Matt 19:14,30; Mark 9:12, 10:14-16,31; Luke 7:28, Luke 18:16-17
God is not impressed with our human excellence
but with our humility and love!
Inclusion: It’s the law!
The Law of the UN
On December 13, 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The purpose of the Convention is: "to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all people with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity". According to the Convention: "Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others".
Law of Canada
In Canada, the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provided an equality guarantee under Section 15 that prohibits discrimination based on mental or physical disability across all jurisdictions in Canada. Also The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination in every area of life. The Canadian Human Rights Commission and department of Justice in Canada also has separate legislation addressing discrimination against people with disabilities. Discrimination includes all forms of segregation, neglect or isolation.
Law of United States
Federal law and human rights- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was passed in 1990, was intended by Congress to provide a clear national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities in every area of life and society. Passed by Congress in 1973, Section 504 is a single sentence in the Rehabilitation Act states “All organizations are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to persons with disabilities to enable them to participate in programs, services and activities within the community.” Section 504 reads: “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity
The Law of God
1. Jesus' ministry was authenticated by people with disabilities and we are commanded to honour the least among us as the greatest in God's kingdom and not to show favoritism based on abilities, accomplishments and appearance. Matthew 11:2-5; Matthew 18:1-7; Mark 10:13-16; James 2:1-17
2. We are commanded to invite, bring and compel people with disabilities to come to all our gatherings so that God's house may be full. Luke 14:12,13,21,23
3. We are commanded to become as weak to the weak in order to identify with them. 1 Cor 9:22; Romans 15:1
4. God favours the weaker members of His body over the stronger members and so should we by integrating with them. 1Cor 12: 24
5. We are commanded to comfort the feebleminded and support the weak. 1 Thess 5:14
Everyone is affected by disabilities
Every person will be affected by one or more disabilities within their life time. The definition of "disability" includes everyone. It is defined as "a disadvantage or deficiency or as something that hinders or incapacities". Some subtle disabilities or disorders that affect many people are depression, anxiety, paranoia, compulsiveness, ADD, ADHD obsessiveness, bipolar, schizophrenia, sleeping and eating disorders, asthma, allergies, high and low blood pressure, diabetes, deficient eye sight and hearing. Every human being has either visible or invisible disabilities. There are physical, intellectual/development, mental/psychological, chronic, genetic, learning/cognitive, social, spiritual, emotional and aging disabilities that affect people.
Stats on Disabilities
1. 650 million people worldwide have a diagnosed disability.
2. There are 14.4 million disabled Canadians- 14:3% Ontario has 1.85 million disabled people- 15.5% What percentage of your congregation has disabilities. Does your church reflect this diversity?
3 Three million people in the Canada suffer from depression, 16.5 million Americans- 1 in13 adults and over 154 million worldwide.
4. 8 in 10 seniors live with a disability.
5. Survey results confirm that the disability rate gradually increases with age. From 3.3% among children aged 0 to 14, it rises to nearly 10% among adults aged 15 to 64 and climbs to more than 40% among persons aged 65 and over. In fact, more than half (53.3%) of persons 75 and over report having a disability
6. 1 in 10 Canadians have a learning disability. 3 million.
7. 70% of our population suffer from Pain related disabilities
8. Close to 50% of all students identified as “exceptional” in the Province of Ontario come from the “learning disabled” category
9. Among children aged 0 to 14, the most widespread disability is that related to a chronic health condition such as asthma
10. The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world's poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged.
What is categorized as a disability by Health Canada?
1. Someone who uses a wheelchair all the time
2. Deaf and visually impaired or blind
3. Someone who uses a wheelchair some of the time
4. Depression, anxiety or low self-esteem
5. Schizophrenia or paranoia
7. Chronic pain, sickness or diseases
8. Need a hearing aid or glasses
9. Anti-social behaviors and social isolationism
10. Intellectual, learning or psychological disability
Six more subtle disabilities
Mood or emotional disorders
Disease and sickness
Disabilities affect every area of our human existence and experience- living, playing, work and worship. Disabilities are an important part of every ministry of the church. Youth ministry. Seniors Ministry. Missions. Discipleship. Evangelism. Counseling. Worship. Preaching & Teaching. Healing. Etc.
Topics of further research
1.The Disabled Planet- Original Sin has disabled our whole world 2.The Disabled Church- Every church has elements of disability inherent within its function 3.The Disabled God – Disability Theology- book by Nancy Eiesland
Partial Inclusion vs. Full Inclusion
Your view of inclusion will determine your level of inclusion
1. A professional and public relationship
2. Based on principle and theory
3. Inclusion is given a second seat or even last place to
excellence, uniformity, familiarity, favoritism, comfort
levels, agendas, programs and routines
4. Incidental or happens by chance
5. A one sided decision modeled after our society
6. Conditional participation that discriminates on the basis
of appearances, performance, skill, talent and social
acceptance or standards
7. Measured by a level of physical ability with people
8. Approached as an informal and secondary agenda
9. Viewed as a special interest cause
10. Considered a vision or calling for only some people but not
1. A personal relationship, lifestyle and friendship
2. Based on practice and a personal experience
3. Inclusion is given a priority over excellence,
uniformity, favoritism, familiarity, comfort levels,
agendas, programs and routines
4. Intentional in development
5. A mutual choice modeled after Christ example
6. Equal participation with all people based on God's
level of favor to the weaker members of His Body- the
7. Measured by a level of spiritual acceptance in Christ
8. Approached as a top strategic plan
9. Viewed as a human right and Biblical mandate
10. Considered a universal mandate, social focus and
spiritual priority for the whole community and church