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

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Ruminations part 2

Yesterday I discussed my desire to develop some form or structure which would link regular families with various persons who are disenfranchised, particularly those with cognitive disabilities.  A while back the term "life partners" struck me.  I am unsure at the moment whether there is some sort of legal aspect to what I am proposing (although in one relationship with a disabled friend, I have the authority to make medical decisions, by his request) although it may develop into such.
The idea is that a family will express the desire to life partner with a disenfranchised person.  In an adoption kind of way, the church would facilitate a meeting together between the family and the person with whom they would enter into a relationship with.  It could be as simple as a meal at McDonalds, or at the family's or disabled person's home.  Should a friendship begin, the folks are on their own to schedule future meetings.  Ideas for meetings and activities could be supplied by the church which the life partners may or may not choose to follow.  However, some minimal standards might be set, like . . .
     -face to face meetings once per month
     -a conversation twice per month
     -sharing of phone numbers
     -the opportunity for meeting with persons within the church who have knowledge about  
          persons with disabilities to assist the family should they have any questions
     -the opportunity for meeting with persons within the church who have knowledge about
          families to assist persons with disabilties should they have any questions
     -holiday get togethers
     -birthday parties
As I write this it sounds so simple, and in some ways so easy.  It needs to be fleshed out much more, but in actuality what is needed is very simple.  Simple caring for others, movement outside of one's comfort zone a bit, seeing one's family as a tool for ministry, trying to understand others who people generally don't care to understand.
When I shared this with a friend, he told me that it might sound simple to me, but in reality it is very difficult for others.  Somehow in the sharing of this model, the simplicity of it needs to come through.
This is also a way for the church to reach out to the larger community.  Churches might contact local school districts, indicating that there are people who want to adopt a family of a child with disability in order to help the family with respite, and provide a church home where the family and child can feel welcomed. 
Adult service programs could also be contacted as a means to link families within churches with adults with disabilties with whom a partnership can be developed.  These partnerships could be with a group home, or individual adults living in the community. 
More to come on this.

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