“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reflections on travels thus far...

I have been blessed to be traveling for about a month. Thus far, I have been attending a conference of the European Society on Theology and Disability in Skoorl, Netherlands and assisting with training (along with Kathi) for Ukranian pastors in Lutsk, Ukraine. At the moment, I am in Uganda, but work will not begin till this afternoon.

Some observations thus far...
Attended sessions in Skoorl on the "priestly passages" from Leviticus and elsewhere about disability provided by a brilliant scholar, Dr. Sarah Melcher from Xavier University, Love and autism (not correct title) by Dr. John Swinton which was very thought provoking among others. The first meeting of this society 4 years ago was wonderful, but the quality of presentations this time was very good. Papers will be published in the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health in the future (about to get a new name) and I would highly recommend anyone interested in the topic getting a hold of that issue in particular.

Pastors were very receptive to information about the social consequences of disability, facilitating faith development in individuals with disabilities, and the importance of integration in work and ministry. Lots of great questions and involvement from participants. We then visited a camp patterned after the Joni and Friends Family Camps with the pastors where we interacted with families and children and kind of provided feet to the ideas shared in the conference. I think this is a good training model for pastors as it puts together theory/practice with being able to view actual practice. I also now own a Bart Simpson keychain which was given to me by a young man at the camp. He got a flashlight in exchange but the keychain will have a place of honor in my office. Also renewed a lot of friendships, particularly with Sergey, Natasha, and Roman who are leaders at Fimiam church which is a real innovator in disability ministry in that part of the world. A highlight was sitting for an hour with Sergey and Roman and just strategizing about next steps for their work. Was a delightful, stimulating and hopefully strategic time together.

We are now in Uganda, Rick Langer and I and are about to embark on two weeks of trainings. Have made some helpful contacts and had some wonderful conversations thus far that will help to guide future work in Uganda. Actual training begin today.

Please keep us in your prayers,