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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Missionaries who prepare nationals to serve persons with disabilities

Kathi and I had a great conversation with Ms. Ashley Hall, a gal who is spearheading the development and offering of an undergraduate program in disability studies/special education at Africa Renewal University outside of Kampala, Uganda. As we chatted, we talked about preparing African nationals to provide services to children and adults with disabilities. It is so exciting to see the work Ashley is facilitating in Uganda.

As I thought about this, I remembered how I probably know of a half dozen missionaries who were serving faithfully somewhere in the world when a child with a disability was born to them. I don't know if it is still the case, but that almost immediately meant that they would have to leave and come back to the US. I know of families with a severely disabled child, another with autism, several with down syndrome and others with other impairments. In each case, neither the mission organization nor the country was prepared to assist in care and education of the children so the family came home.

A while back, Kathi had the idea of involving some of the folks with disabilities at our church in a mission endeavor to Mexico. What happens is that small houses are pre-built in the US and then taken down to Mexico where they are assembled for a family. Her idea was to include some folks with disabilities in the activity. It was interesting to see those without impairments in the group work to facilitate those with disabilities being able to share their gifting in providing the homes. But was even more interesting, was that when we got to the location of where the house was to be built, those who we were helping saw that members of our group were disabled and assisted those folks to help them. The Mexican nationals assisted the American team members with disabilities so that the American team could provide the house.

This is a brilliant idea! What if in our missions activities, we were assisting those we were in mission to. to love and support children and adults with disabilities. What if we taught them a Biblical perspective on disability, assisted them to develop ministries and human supports for persons with disabilities. Then, when a child with a disability was born to a mission family, they would not necessarily have to leave because a part of the mission's activities and purpose resulted in making a place for those with disabilities. As above were the Mexican nationals helped the American team members with disabilities so that they could serve the nationals, the community around the missionaries would step up to support the individual with disabilities and their family so that they could stay and continue their mission work.

We need to think ahead in preparing for these kinds of situations. Not only for those we are in mission to, but for our own needs. That families have to come home, reflects on missing pieces in our mission focus.


No comments: