Is There Really a Need?

Have you ever wondered if there is really a need for disability ministry? If people with disabilities are just people, why is a focused ministry needed?

That’s a great question! Consider these facts:

The need for disability ministry is monumental.  Joni Eareckson Tada has stated that people affected by disability have the highest rates of homelessness, joblessness, divorce, abuse, and suicide, and are among the least evangelized.    https://www.lausanne.org/category/content/lop

Five Heart-Hitting Statistics:

  1. About 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population or 1 in 5 people — have a disability according to the 2010 U.S. Census. More than half of them reported their disability was severe. (U.S. Census Bureau).
  2. Over one billion people or 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability, and of these, between 110 and 190 million have significant difficulties in functioning, according to the World Report on Disability.
  3. Estimates are that 80 to 85 percent of churches don’t have any level of special needs ministry.
  4. Only 5 to 10% of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making the disability community one of the largest unreached — some say under-reached — or hidden people groups in the world.
  5. More than 90% of church-going special needs parents cited the most helpful support to be a “welcoming attitude toward people with disabilities.” Meanwhile, only about 80% of those parents said that welcoming attitude was present at their church.

https://www.thebanquetnetwork.com/blog/2018/8/28/5-statistics-we-cant-ignore

So what do YOU think? Is there a need for disability ministry?

Breakaway!

One of the things the Jerry and I love most about being in central Florida is the connections we are re-establishing with disability ministry friends we have known over the years. In late June we spent the week serving alongside Jim and Rhonette Hukill and their fabulous team at LIFT Disability Network. The event was Breakaway, a week of camp for families and individuals affected by disability.

The theme was Beyond! Each day focused on how, through God, we can go beyond our environment, perspective and abilities. Jerry preached one morning on going beyond his perspective. He shared his dream to be a Major League Baseball player, and how God used that dream, over many years and many circumstances to bring him to where he is today.

In addition to preaching, we were privileged to serve as the pastoral care team. We taught a mid afternoon Bible study each day. Many young adults with disabilities joined us in those studies. How refreshing it was to see their heart to follow after God. What a joy to explore Scripture and pray with these brothers and sisters.

The remainder of our week was spent with the families, or individuals in attendance. We listened to their stories, cried, laughed, brainstormed and prayed together. Two stories from that week.

Phyllis asked to speak with us She felt abandoned by God due to her mental illness and divorce. She was working in a job that was not her dream. She wondered if God still loved her, or could have a purpose for her. She needed someone to listen and then remind her of she was intentionally knit together in her mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and as a daughter of the King of Kings she is loved, gifted and the apple of her Heavenly Father’s eye.. She left with a renewed purpose, and a rowing sprout of hope.

Mealtimes are always a great place to fellowship. Over one lunch a small conversation with two women branched out to all those at the table. What topic created so much interest? What disability ministry might look like in a local church. Discussion revolved around the steps to take to assess what type of ministry is needed, how to initiate a ministry, and ways to get others involved.

We may never know how God takes these seeds and grows them BEYOND what we expected. But we are thankful for these opportunities He gives us to plant seeds wherever we are.

Your Turn . . .

What about you? How have you seen God take you BEYOND your circumstances, perspective or abilities? We’d love to hear your thoughts, please share!

Family Cafe Flashback

In our initial two months of ministry Luke 14 Exchange has been privileged to reach 240 people with disabilities and their families. It started in early June at the Florida Family Café, a state supported conference for people with disabilities and their families.

Together Jerry and Joan spoke on the Third Wheel in Marriage: Embracing Disability in Your Marriage. One never knows when speaking at a breakout session how many, if any will come. We were grateful to have the room filled to capacity. How exciting to interact with couples who WANT to strengthen their marriage. Or do you suppose it was the chocolate Hugs and Kisses we distributed? After all, talk of marriage must involve copious amounts of hugs and kisses 🙂

Jerry sharing in our The Third Wheel in Marriage workshop at the June 2019 Family Cafe in Orlando

Jerry shared a breakout the next day on Nineteen Life Hacks for living with disability. His room too was full of people of all ages and ability/disability ranges. As the session neared the conclusion, a parent was overheard asking his late elementary aged son questions to see if he was ready to process what he heard. He went on to encourage his son to understand that this young boy was not alone in what he was feeling, experiencing and how he was growing up. A seed of hope for the future was planted in both this boy and his dad.

Everyone needs mentors and role models, whether in marriage or life. Through Luke 14 Exchange we want to connect people affected by disability with mentors they can identify with who can help them navigate the challenges and blessings of life.

We want to hear from you.

Whether or not you have a disability, who is your mentor? You don’t need to tell us their name, but describe who they are or the impact they have had on your life.

If you don’t have a mentor, why not? What are you looking for in a mentor?