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

Monday, November 27, 2006

God owns disability

At the Joni and Friends "Through the roof summit" recently in Pasadena, Joni Eareckson-Tada made a comment something to the effect at the moment, "Satan owns disability." Make no mistake, Joni was reflecting the perceptions of many regarding people how people with disabilities are perceived, and the ramification of those perceptions. My understanding of the context of her statement is that disability is often accompanied by such things as fear, depression, despair, anger, frustration, family break-up, hopelessness, loneliness. In the face of these experiences all too often a part of being a person experiencing disability, the Church is largely silent, not very interested, unwilling, ignorant. Together, the result is that Satan has a foothood in disbility. People are depressed and frustrated and we are ignorant. People are scared or ignorant, and we have nothing to tell them from our experience. People are angry and despairing, and we are not very interested and unwilling to do anything that will change our patterns of operation, or cause us any discomfort or change in our schedule. The more I think about it, the more I agree with her.

Her response, however, was to say that it is time for the Church to take back disability. To encourage the depressed and despairing, to be there for them in friendship and support. To empathize with the angry and frustrated, and love them unconditionally. To prove to them that we will not reject them. To end hopelessness by providing hope, not just for eternal life but for life. To fight despair with friendship. Jesus was crystal clear on who he felt should own disability. We, however, give territory that Christ died for over to the enemy without a fight. As stated elsewhere in this blog, we are complicit in Satan's ownership of disability.

But it shouldn't be that way. The God I serve tells me that my life is equally important to anyone elses, independent of their conditions, their abilities, their physical characteristics. To not understand that, is to not understand one of the most basic of all precepts of the Christian faith.

Satan owns disability...but not for long! C'mon Church we have to fight our ignorance, we have to fight our apathy, we have to fight our silence. Through our fighting, we wrench disability out of the enemy's hands and return it to the Hands of the Lord, to the hands of the Church. "That the Glory of God may be seen, we must work the works of Him who sent me" (John 9). The alternatives are enemy ownership or God's Glory. Amazingly we have the ability to make one of the two a reality.

How beatifully will God's Glory be seen, when we finally work the works.

(note: I had to change the title of this blog entry. God is in control.)



Impossibleape said...

This maybe 'the' great challenge to our church. Thank you for putting it so beautifully.

If you don't mind, I want to send a link to this post to my pastors. The Road to Emmaus group is hoping to move out of our church hall where only 4 out of 1000 have expressed an interest in ministering to disabled people. We are seeking permission to go on the road to an apartment building full of people with disabities to hold a few sessions and to invite them to discover their worth and hope in Christ.

Wish us well and pray for us, if you will.

God Bless.

Anonymous said...

i think that what you put in you commit is correct of all people. Not just of the church, but everyone everywhere. it is often sad when you see people ignoring the disabled around them so that they can better their lives, or so they think. If more people helped one another then it would create something new and ultimately create a better lifestyle. the people of the church need to start this act. And because they are not it is very sad.

Anonymous said...

This topis is unfortunately very true, and your explanation of what is happening makes it easy to see exactly what is meant in the statement, "Satan owns disability." When we as the church encounter someone with a disability we have to see that there is much more to their situation than just the disability. When we only minister to the physical aspect there is so much more that is being forgotten in the situation. There is also emotional and spiritual pain that is usually involved. It is no wonder that so many disabled people are struggling just to make it day to day. There emotional pain is completely forgotten and in being forgotten it continues to grow to the point of utter despair. Their minds and their hearts need just as much ministering to as their actual disability; sometimes they need it even more. We need to minister not only to their disability but to their heart and spirit as well. We must love them in both the physical realm and spiritual realm. Disabilities go much deeper than just the physical, and our love and ministry to them must go much deeper as well. I believe that we can win this battle if we allow the Lord to open our eyes to all that is involved when dealing with disabilities.

Impossibleape said...

I actually liked the original title
The Devil owns disability because it rings truer.
So long as the church says I don't want'em you can have'em, the Devil will continue to own the territory called disability and the vast majority of those who live within its markers.

The main response my kind of church has made to people with disabling conditions is to feed them to faith healers.

I think we all know how big a dent in the population of PWD's that approach has made.

Impossibleape said...

I thought the original title was a truer reflection of conditions on the ground and had more of an impact with me.

But I suppose the idea that God owns disability is shocking in its own right and may be as impactful, but I would prefer to refer to your original title with an addition of your explaination for using another title now.

I hope that isn't being too free with your piece (This, of course, hinges on whether you will allow me to use your piece on my blog.)

Take care
Please Remember
As Brother James Taught,

"If we take care of each other,
we can trust God
to take care of the rest."
(the VLPE translation, aka.
the Very Loose Paraphrase Edition)

Jeff McNair said...

In my mind I had to change the title of this entry. Particularly after one of my students misunderstood the entry. I would also hate to have someone experiencing a disability come to this blog, and be hit with that statement. The last thing I would want to do is cause discouragement to those owned and loved by God. So I made the change.

I-ape, feel free to use the entry on your blog.


Impossibleape said...

Thanks Jeff.

The disclaimer could read;
The Devil owns disability because most church folk won't walk the territory.

Its either because we are afraid that the gospel doesn't work there or maybe we don't think the people consigned to live there are worth the effort.

either way, the average church is providing a poor witness before the world.

Impossibleape said...

your comment that you were concerned a person with a disability would be offended by the original title is important and appreciated

I find it hard to speak of the issues surrounding how PWD's have been treated without feeling that it insults the very people we are trying to elevate.
But the offending statements ususally represent the reality.
I suppose that speaking positively could be a better way but then no one will know of what they need to repent.
I can't help but think that someone needs to explain to churches how people made in God's image are being devalued everyday by otherwise caring and decent people who are called by the name of CHRISTian.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your concern and challenge in the area of the church. More churches around the world need to hear and be more aware of this challenge so they can act out rather than sitting back and hoping things may change. A passage that comes to mind in all of this is 1Corinthians 12:12-13 & 23-26 which conveys that the church is one unit under God. Although God has given us individual gifts and qualities, He made it so that we could still unite as one body of believers in Him. If the body is lacking any one part, we are not complete. If one part of the body suffers, we all suffer, and if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. We all have different struggles and hardships, but God formed us, regardless of our situations, to fit all together in a mold that is united and formed perfectly under Him. God calls us to have equal concern and care for each other. In having concern for others, we are called to love and encourage the disabled, not push them away. Without the disabled, the church would not be complete. This is because the disabled play a vital role in our churches and should not be turned away being that they have an equal share of the inheritance found in Christ. I believe that this outreach needs to begin in the church and my only hope and prayer is that the church will begin to begin to play more of an active role in involving the disabled.

Impossibleape said...

Thank you Anon for your encouraging and insightful comment

I love the title of this blog

Disabled Christianity because that is what our faith is if it is missing parts of the body

Anonymous said...

Love sums the whole of commandments. The miracle of the life, death, and ressurection was about God's love for humanity. The miracle of salvation was about love.

We cannot profess to be Christians and not possess this precious gift, the most powerful force in the universe....LOVE!


Anonymous said...

I think that we have it wrong to say that the devil owns disability.

Love is the sum total of the commandments that Christ gave us, the strongest force in the universe. Jesus IS Love!

A more accurate saying would be the devil owns disabled Christianity.