Ministry and Disabilities - Lesson 1

Why Minister to People With Disabilities? (Part 1)

This lesson describes what individuals and families experience when disability first strikes. It also discusses hurtful stereotypes and labels attached to disabilities. One of the goals of this lesson is to encourage students to include people with disabilities as friends rather than simply observing them from a distance or viewing them only as the beneficiaries of charity. (Part 1)

Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
Ministry and Disabilities
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Why Minister to People With Disabilities? (Part 1)

I. Introduction to Ministry and Disabilities

A. Importance of Inclusivity

B. Biblical Basis for Ministry to People with Disabilities

II. Understanding Disabilities

A. Types of Disabilities

B. The Impact of Disabilities on Individuals and Families

III. Strategies for Inclusive Ministry

A. Accommodations and Modifications

B. Communication and Collaboration

C. Empowering Individuals and Families

IV. Overcoming Challenges in Ministry

A. Addressing Attitudes and Misconceptions

B. Providing Support and Resources

C. Encouraging Advocacy and Education

V. Conclusion: The Impact of Inclusive Ministry

  • In this lesson, you learn the importance of inclusive ministry for individuals with disabilities, explore strategies for inclusivity, and address challenges in fostering an accessible church community.
  • This lesson teaches you about the biblical basis for ministering to people with disabilities and provides practical steps for creating an inclusive ministry that embraces unity and diversity.
  • By exploring the historical perspective on disability, you learn how attitudes have evolved and gain insight into the importance of inclusion and advocacy in today's society.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into addressing the challenges churches face in ministering to individuals with disabilities, while understanding the importance of inclusivity, implementing strategies, and fostering a supportive community.
  • You will learn the importance of inclusivity in evangelism and networking with disability ministries and organizations, as well as strategies for effective communication, community building, and accessing resources for supporting individuals with disabilities.

Does your church know how to minister to people with disabilities? Do you see them as a burden, or are they valued members of Christ's kingdom?

Do they have anything to say to those whose disabilities are not so immediately apparent? When was the last time you heard a blind pastor preach? Does he "see" things differently? This seminar contains some of the key discussions in the longer course, Beyond Suffering, at JoniandFriends.org

Dr. Jeff McNair
Ministry and Disabilities
Why Minister to People With Disabilities? (Part 1)
Lesson Transcript

This is lesson one of the Beyond Suffering curriculum related to why minister to people with disabilities. The objectives for this lesson relate to a whole variety of different things that are about understanding disability and then using that understanding to in some level facilitate both our desire and our understanding in moving forward in ministry. One of the things we want to do is understand cultural perceptions and attitudes that impact the community. You'll hear me say this in a variety of times during the presentation, but sometimes the social consequences of disability are worse than the disability itself. Now, it's not always the case, but oftentimes people come to accept the situation that they face in life and they just it becomes somewhat mundane for them and they just want to move on. But social constructions, the way that disability is described, oftentimes makes the disability or the effects of the disability worse than the disability itself. We want to talk a little bit about the experience of families, particularly at the birth of a child with a disability and a little bit about the experience of individuals themselves when they receive a disability at some point later in their life. There's lots of stereotypes that are out there that are that can be very, very hurtful. And we want to talk through those a little bit. And we also want to talk about how we do not want to be a contributor to those stereotypes. There are actually ministries that are out there that, in my humble opinion, are on some level doing more harm than good. I mean, they're sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is obviously a tremendous good. But the process in which they're doing it is actually. Somewhat demeaning and not very respectful to the individuals that they're serving.


So we want to make sure we don't do that. We'll be interested in seeing how your own experience, I suspect all of you in this group or who are taking this training have some sort of a connection with disability in your own life. Perhaps you're a person who experiences a disability or you a person who is a parent of of an individual disability. Or like me, you're just someone that God has for some reason, grabbed you by the scruff of the neck and said, This is what you're going to be about. You're going to be about working in this area to try to make things better. So we'll touch on that a little bit in terms of how your experiences impact the stuff that we're doing. We'll talk about how Ministry to People with Disabilities begins with a very, very basic decision, and that is that we want people with disabilities here, meaning in the church, we want people with all types of impairments, all types of life experience in the church here. If you don't have that starting point, then everything is a hassle. If you have that starting point that you want those people here, everything else with logistics, it doesn't mean it's easy, right? But everything else becomes logistics. So our starting point that we're going to advocate for is that we want people here in the church and then we move from there. And then I'll kind of just kind of challenge you to think about what your role might be in the future relative to participation in disability ministry. Is this something that's going to be a career track for you? And I honestly think this is a idea whose time has come. And so it may be that some of you already are in a career track, a disability ministry pastor, or doing something in a paid kind of a position.


But even if you're not going in that direction in terms of ministry is a professional role. Probably many of you are either involved in ministry within your church on a volunteer basis or you're just kind of supporting individuals with disabilities in your family or in the church. But a lot of the stuff that we will talk about in a throughout the course, but particularly in this section as well, will particularly assist you if you're trying to do things like policy development and those kinds of things. So you'll be able to take this away and apply it in a whole variety of different settings other than just the church. So that will be the first lesson. All right. Okay, so, um, the stuff we're gonna talk about is controversial. Okay? And I promise you that you will not agree with me on everything, and I don't care. You know, you can agree with me or disagree with me. That's fine. The idea is, I want to stimulate your thinking on a whole lot of things. I have people have had people when I've shared this information, actually get angry and say, you're criticizing everything I've ever done in ministry. And I'm like, I don't even know who you are or what your ministry is. I will argue with you, though, and I will not argue with you. I will argue to you that many of the things that we're going to talk about, if they are not reflected in your ministry, you ought to take a good step back and think through as to why they're not, because there's there's a lot that can be learned from the secular world relative to understanding individuals with disabilities. And I hate to say it, I wish the church was the kind of on the forefront leading the charge.


The church was late to the party. Maybe the church was way late to the party. There's a whole lot of good stuff that's been going on in special education and rehabilitation services. And in this relatively new field that's only about 2530 years old called Disability Studies. And Disability Studies is the idea of taking this in the same way with women's studies or something like that? You know, if I'm taking women's studies, I'm not taking women's studies to learn to work with women. Right. That's that's not what women's studies is. The same with disability. I don't do disability studies to learn to work with people with disabilities. I want to understand what disability is. And so in disability studies we take this this concept called disability, and we look at it from a legal perspective and from a sociological perspective and philosophically and theologically and educationally and every direction so that we come away with a better understanding about what this thing called disability is. I have a friend who did his doctoral dissertation at a pretty good, pretty doggone good university, did his Ph.D. in philosophy and his entire dissertation, 450 pages was trying to answer the question, What is disability? So it's not simple. It's not simple. It's a combination of things that we'll talk through this morning as we get into this a little bit. Okay. So we can talk a little bit about when disability strikes or when impairment strikes. Once again, if impairment strikes, we either say congenitally where a person was born with a disability or adventitious where a person develops a disability later in their life. And what happens as a result of that? It's fascinating how and we'll talk about this in a second. It's fascinating how people will think everything's fine and then disability hits them and you realize how lousy things are.


Not necessarily specific to the disability, but in terms of the, quote, services that are out there. You know, when you once you get into that world, you recognize that it's a mess. And so, once again, a lot of I'm don't catch me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not belittling the experience of having a disability or impairment. But I'm telling you, some of the most frustrating parts of having a disability or impairment is the sociology, the society around you And what happens as a result that we'll talk about that social constructions of disability, social constructions impacting and and we'll talk about that. That's kind of the way that disability is described by the society. And then we're going to talk about how we identify with people with disabilities through this thing, this handout that I gave you. I love this quote. God's grace is ridiculously inclusive. Apparently, he doesn't care who he loves. He's not very careful about the people he calls his friends or the people he calls his church. I wish that was us. I wish that was the way we are. You know what I've learned after I've been doing disability ministry for. 35 years. You know, I've learned the bottom line is about this building ministry is the church doesn't know how to love. The church doesn't know how to love people. Right. Bottom line. And so of all the things that get wrong in the Christian church, we got love wrong. You know, is there anything more basic that we could get wrong than love? And we say, I love you. Sorry, you're not a priority man, but maybe someone else. You know, there's a church down the street that might love you. Right. This is the way we act with people because they have a characteristic that's called disability or impairment.


We can't do that. We can't do that. All right. Well, here's what happens with disability strikes or impairment strikes. I would prefer to say when an impairment hits a person, you enter a whole new cultural group. I mean, you look at this gal here running, it looks like her little boy maybe has autism. She has entered a whole nother group of people that is, that she never thought she'd be a part of. Now, don't get me wrong, okay? I want to be very clear on this. I am not saying that people with disability are a separate cultural group. Don't hear me say that, okay? Because there are people who are doing all kinds of goofy things on the basis of the fact that they think that disability is a separate cultural group. Now, there are people who are deaf, for example, who have who have embraced their deafness and called themselves a separate culture, largely because it revolves around the different language. Right. But if I take a characteristic that you have and say, because you have this characteristic, I'm going to put you in a separate culture that's very different. That's very different. But people end up finding themselves relegated or isolated into a separate cultural group. So in this case, the parent or family of people with autism, it's a separate group. I mean, they resonate with with with each other. But mostly the reason they resonate with each other is because the rest of us don't care about them and would rather have them not be around because kids with autism are difficult and we don't like the people in our lives who are difficult. It's a lot easier for them to kind of be by themselves, you know, be with their own kind.


I've heard people say. One learns a new language. My goodness. When I was early in my career, I was doing research about medical and educational interactions around what am I think about medication, psychotropic drugs, those kinds of things for people with disabilities. Right? And it's crazy by virtue of the fact that I'm a parent of a child with disability. I have to minimally become an expert in education so that I advocate for what my kid needs. And I be I need to be an expert in medicine to know about things like medications and diet and all this other kind of stuff. So all of a sudden I learn all kinds of new language that I never heard of before. And unfortunately, I need to learn a new language of like lawyer and fair hearing and those kinds of things, because that's how I it's only way I get some things done in my life. One copes with fears and doubts. Am I going to be able to handle this? It's fascinating. Research indicates that people, Christian people, feel supported by their personal faith but not their corporate faith. So again, people with disabilities, people with disabilities and families, people disabilities feel supported by their personal faith but not their corporate faith. So I have to be able to handle this on my own, just me and you, Lord, because I can't count the people around me. And then one finds a new, quote, normal, and that is that you find a place of kind of a steady state where I can exist at this level and try to move on, understanding the experiences that I have as an individual disability or a family member, and also with dealing with the nonsense I have to deal with oftentimes from the community.


This is a quote. I want to read this to you. Collective unconsciousness can be so vast that even the most global societal policies may be undeclared, unexplained, unacknowledged, and even denied. Thus, for many people to all work towards, a bad thing requires no deliberate or conscious conspiracy. While this is well known by social scientists, most citizens are not aware about how they themselves can be totally unconsciously acting out undeclared, large scale societal policies in their own daily lives. This is the problem that we face with the church. The church is in many people in the church are working towards a bad thing, and they're totally unconscious of it, right? Many of the things that we do in our society are working towards a bad thing, and we have no idea that we are doing that. I mean, I'll give you a dumb example. You'll you'll see some sometimes you'll see someone and they'll have a very, very severe disability. Right. And, you know, let's take my little friend. If after her surgery, if she has, you know, has an appearance, that's unusual. People will look at her and say something like there but for the grace of God, go I. And you think about that as if saying, you know, I'm talking about God and I'm thankful for his grace and all that stuff. But think about what that really means. Think about that. You know, think about if I pointed to you and said there but for the grace of God would be me. That's not something you would say. Oh, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I mean, there's a level which that's an insult that she does not have the grace of God because of her life experience. And I do.


I'm glad I got the grace of God, at least out of this equation. And so there's there's undeclared unconscious things that can be hugely negative. And so we want to stop and and think through this so that we're not contributing to those things. And a lot of what we're going to talk about this morning is going to relate to that. I put on your table a handout and it's in your it's actually in your CD with handouts. But I thought I'd put one in front of you because you might want to write some notes on it or something. Dr. Wolfsberger is one of my personal heroes. He died about a year ago. It was a very devout Catholic. One of the most important people. Well, he was actually described as one of the 50 most important people in intellectual disability in the last hundred years. And he did this thing. He wrote a book called Normalization in 1972, which we'll talk about later today when we talk about history. But then he tweaked some of his work into a whole new theory, which is called social role valorization. And under that, he has what he calls the 18 wounds. And these 18 wounds might also be referred to as the social consequences of disability. So I developed this characteristic that's called impairment. And as a result of having this thing called impairment, this is that this is the social consequence to me of this impairment. Now, I've spoken I've talked about this with lots and lots of folks who have disabilities, and then most of them will say, yeah, this nails it. Some will say, You're not entirely for me. I've also talked about this and like all over the world, it doesn't matter what culture you go in.


I mean, I'm talking to this small group of people in Uganda and they're like, Yeah, this nails it. I mean, there was an individual, a couple of girls with disability who said, Yeah, this is I just came back from China. And I said to them, you know, I'm not I'm not hardy enough to tell you what your culture thinks about this, but I'm going to share this and you tell me if this reflects your culture. Absolutely. Absolutely. This is true in our culture as well. So this seems to be a multicultural list of the social consequences of disability. So it's worthy, I think, of understanding. Now it's important for us to understand these things, I think, because we don't want to participate in the negative that results from them. Okay. Now, think about this verse a second. Don't curse the deaf man. Don't place the stumbling block before the blind. Does that. Does the deaf man know I'm cursing him? No, he'll know I'm cursing him. Right, because he cannot hear me when I'm cursing him. Does the blind person know I'm putting a stumbling block in front of them? No, they don't know that. But I'm doing it nonetheless. Right. And there are many things that we can do often in the name of ministry that we say, well, the people are enjoying it. You know, whatever we're doing, whether it's juvenile tasks for adults with intellectual disabilities or segregated programs or something like that, the people are happy about it. Well, you know, the fact of the matter is, doesn't matter if they're happy about it. I know the consequence of treating adults like children. I know the consequence of segregating people. And so even though the people themselves may not understand it, I know it.


And so I cannot participate in that because of the impact it will have on the individuals and disabilities themselves. So here we go. Let's talk about social consequences of disability. And you're on your paper there, too. First of all, wound one, there's 18 of these wounds. Wound one is that I have some sort of bodily impairment. Okay. I was born with it. I was, you know, I developed it later in life. There's something that's impaired about my functioning. Maybe I have an intellectual disability, so I have trouble with things that relate to intellect. Perhaps I have a physical disability where I need to use a wheelchair or something like that. Perhaps I have some sort of, you know, visual problem where I don't see well, and so I need some sort of something to help me with that. So these are real impairments, okay? These are not something I'm projecting on somebody. You're with me. This is a real impairment. So I really do need to use a wheelchair. Right. I really for my in my case, I really do have bad vision. I really do. I'm not playing a game here and wearing this just because I think my glasses are so attractive as funny or but they're not a pain. You know, I really do have a visual impairment, right? So the first part of it, this bodily impairment is not something that's projected on something. It's someone that something that a person actually has is a characteristic. Now, I would backpedal a little bit on the intellectual disability thing, right? Because prior to about 1909, there was no such thing as an IQ test. Right. So prior to 1909, you know, she was a woman who maybe just did things a little slower or couldn't do some things, and she was a little faster and she was somewhere in the middle and we were all on this range.


And so I'd say, you know, I'm not going to ask her to do the, you know, the the math calculations for our budget. I'm going to ask her to do something else because potentially she is on that level of the scale. But then as of 19 the early 1900s, I couldn't tell as a result of IQ tests call her an idiot or an imbecile or a moron, which were the terms back then. And then we cleaned it up. And now I could say because she got a number on a test, she's mentally retarded, right? I could do that. And now we say intellectually disabled. So there's a degree to which in my mind, the label of intellectual disability is projecting something on someone. Because all of us are in a range. All of us need support on some level. There's nobody in here that needs no support from anyone. Now, it may be that you need less support than somebody else, but you're still on the spectrum of support needs, right? So there's a part of me that thinks the whole label of intellectual disability is more of a pejorative thing than anything else. And the only reason I need to give you that label is so that the government can provide services according to the score that you have. And it becomes a game. I got to rein in my stories a little bit, but maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I should. Well, I will admit this. Okay. So I have a friend who wanted to receive state state services from the Department of Developmental Disabilities, but you had to have an IQ less than 70. But, you know, he kept score and IQ. He kept scoring 70 to 73 on the IQ test. So he couldn't get a score.


He couldn't get the services right. You know, in the standard error measurement in these tests is plus or minus ten or 12. But anyway, so his score is actually in the range. But I arranged it with the I probably shouldn't admit this on the camera. I arranged this with the with the people at the Department of Developmental Disabilities to get him retested. Right. And so he got retested before the test. I said, you're not going to do well on this test? No, no, I'm going to do my best. So, no, you're not. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to find at least two questions that you know the answer to. And I want you to answer him wrong. I wouldn't do it. You should do that. And he ended up scoring, you know, 67 or something instead of. But now he was eligible because he needed the services, but because of the number where it was, he could not receive the services. So you can you can condemn me for that. I'll get over it. Trust me now, because I have a bodily impairment at all service. It also causes me to have some type of a functional impairment. So, for example, because I have this visual impairment that I have, the functional impairment is there are a lot of things I can't do. If if, if I had it and corrected visual problem, I should not drive a car. I should not fly an airplane. There's a whole lot of things I should I probably shouldn't teach either because I can't even tell. I can tell men and women at this point because you guys are helping me out mostly with your long hair. But if you had short hair, it'd be tough to tell.


Unless it's the beautiful colors. Like she's wearing that pretty pastel blouse. Um, so I have a I have a body impairment that has caused a functional impairment. But you know what? It's unbelievable. A little while ago, they discovered these things, or they create these things called glasses. It's crazy. You put them on your face. Are you ever given any more? Right. So my bodily impairment is not a functional impairment now because I can put these things on called glasses and I can see fine, I can drive a car, I can do all kinds of stuff. I can tell the difference between men and women from a distance. Um, okay. So if society is sufficiently willing to dress to provide the resources that can change bodily impairments to not be functional impairment. And so, you know, you can in many of our lifetimes, the older folks in here, you can remember when using a wheelchair was a huge functional impairment because you couldn't get anywhere. But since ADA, etc., you know, you've got curb cuts, you've got the entrances might be out in the middle of nowhere to get into a building, but at least you can get into the building now because it has, you know, an accessible entrance so that we being a wheelchair user is know is not so much a functional impairment because of the way that society has invested. Same with with being deaf and communicating with the hearing population much more, much better because of TDD, which was developed way back then and other kinds of things. So a functional impairment does not necessarily have to be the case if society is able to develop alternative ways in which people can get around the effects of their impairment and still access the larger world.


With me. Uh, do I have an example here? Yeah. Oops. Now, this is a dumb example, but if you look at this, but I think probably here at this particular center, because people are so conscious of of being disability friendly, this is the way you open the door. Okay, Now imagine this had a door knob on it. Okay. If I had a doorknob and I had to open the door with the doorknob and my hands were, you know, maybe I had an impairment where I was missing fingers, that would be really hard. Or maybe my hands are not functional or my arms and I functional. I have no way to get in and out. So now this impairment that I have related to my hands, their arms is now a functional impairment. Right. But by putting this in here, my funk, my bodily impairment is is irrelevant in terms of getting in and out of this door. So somebody was was thoughtful enough to change this such that it changed people who had a bodily impairment so that you go with me, it made it so that their bodily impairment was not a functional impairment because of just the way that they thought through that door. So we can do little things that can make things different. But the other thing that happens, though, is as a result of having a disability, society can kind of put all these things on me. It's almost like a cascade of negativity that comes out of this characteristic that's called impairment that I have. And oftentimes the more severe the impairment, the more negative this cascade of disability or cascade of social consequences becomes. So let's just walk through these real quickly. By virtue of the fact that I have a disability, I am relegated to low social status in almost any setting I find myself in.


I'm in low social status. I remember going to my church that I go to now. We've been doing ministry there now. Lord one It'll be 20 years and February. I remember going to the leaders of the church and saying, We want to start a ministry of people disabilities. And their response was people with disabilities weren't really a priority for us. Right. So even the Christian church will take people with disabilities and relegate them to low social status. They're not worthy of, you know. Why waste your time with those people? Right. Welcome. Uh, but the Bible says something about that I think about low social status and treating people according to their status. If you look at James to talk a little bit about that. So we should not be. We should not be relegating people to low social status. And in regard to ministry, we should actually be looking at how can we accentuate their status, give them positions in which they receive positive or high status in the environment. Womb for attitude of rejection disproportionately and relentlessly, depending upon the disability I have, I can find myself rejected from almost any environment that I find myself in. For somewhere I there's true story. There's a couple that comes to our church now. It's been ten years 12 years. But they they grew up in the church. They were married in the church. And a very excited child's going to be born to them. Child is born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy. Right. We're not talking about emotional disturbance or, you know, something that's difficult. Child's born with cerebral palsy and the church tells them there's no longer a place for you here. How can that be? How can that be that we feel like we can get away with that? Right.


And it's lots of different environments where, you know, a child with autism shows up and it's like, oh, gee, what are we going to do now? You know, it'd be much easier if you didn't come. You know, this kind of stuff. So people find themselves relentlessly, disproportionately rejected from a whole variety of different environments. They're cast into what are called historic deviancy roles. Now, Wolfsberger, it kind of defines this and fleshes this out a lot. But let me give you a couple. The one is the eternal child. Okay. So this particularly relates to adults with intellectual disabilities, because I because I have an intellectual disability, people treat me like I'm a child. Okay? And I feel they feel okay with that. I mean, imagine if, you know, I saw Mike just come by. Imagine I said, Hey, Mike, come on in. I want you to meet my kids. You'd say, Who would you like your kid? What are you talking about? Some of you actually might like it because you make you feel a little younger. I don't know all of it, but we do. People do that all the time. If you're intellectually disabled adults, I can do my kids. I have people in my church all the time saying, I love your kids and I'm saying they're not kids. They're older than you. A lot of them. I'll treat them like kids, right? And then we're having an interaction. And I got Barbara here. And imagine if I said, Hey, sweetie, are you having a nice day today? You know, hey, we're going to have ice cream later. I know you love ice cream right now. You like that? I can't promise on the ice cream. Don't hold me. Right. But the thing is right is people say, oh, but she enjoys that, you know.


But the fact of the matter is, I am putting a stumbling block in front of the blind and I am cursing the deaf. Because if I treat her as a child and I'm the expert, everybody in the environment now is never going to see her as an adult. They're going to treat her like a child. So I have demeaned her by doing that. And then when our in our ministry kind of things, right, we give a little color pictures to color. Well, they like that. You know, it doesn't matter if they like that. You know, as soon as they start coloring pictures, any the adult Sunday school class, I'm go give them pictures to color in my class. Right. Or we have little crafty stuff. I'm stepping on some toes here now right. The crafts should be the same as the kind of things that the other adults do, not some silly little nothing that you do in the fourth grader in second grade class. Right. A lot of nursing. You see that in nursing homes, too. And it's equally and that's a great that's a great stamp. That's a great point, because the thing is, is that these things apply to anyone who's been devalued. And you think people in nursing homes have been devalued? Oh, my goodness. Yes, they have. So it relates to that as well. And the thing is as well, they enjoy it. Well, you know, it doesn't matter on some level, Right. If you want to color your pictures, you know, maybe you love Spider-Man, you color pictures of Spider-Man. Chances are you're not doing it at Starbucks. Or if you're in pictures of Spider-Man, you're doing it in your house. Well, you know, once it sees you coloring.


Right, Right now, that's one thing. If there's a place with the person's live, etc., and and doing the privacy, etc., but you don't want to do things that contribute to people being viewed in a way that's not appropriate for them to be viewed. It even goes down to songs that you say, okay, Jesus loves the Little Children, It's a wonderful song. I should not be singing it with my adults with intellectual disabilities. Okay, Why? Because I don't want people walking by seeing these people and saying, Jeff's the expert, he's running this ministry. He treats them like they're children. I guess I'll treat them like their children, too. They're not. That's disrespectful. I don't want to be disrespectful to people. And I've actually had friends with intellectual disabilities say they treat us like we're babies. So to the degree that they're aware, they don't like it because it's demeaning and it's demeaning. I could go off on this. People with disabilities are treated like they're sick, Right? They're treated like they're sick. So they have some kind of a disease. So people talk about Down syndrome as a disease. Okay, Well, if Down syndrome as a disease. Shoot, I don't wanna go near people don't say, oh, I catch that disease. Or if cerebral palsy is a disease, I don't want to go by people. Right. People with this is key. People with with disabilities are not sick. They're disabled. Right. Get that in your mind. People disabilities are not sick. They're disabled. Yes, ma'am. We changed that to challenge. I mean, I mean, you know what I'm saying? Yeah. You can challenge people who are challenged because. Because you have to. I mean, you have to go on. Yes. Everything. You have to go on.


Okay. Let's say let's let's change it to. They have an impairment. They're not sick. They have an impairment. Yes. Special needs. Special needs. Yeah. We can get into language and we can talk about language. Johnny talks as a one off. Johnny, when she talks to you, she'll talk about her language thing, which is fabulous. Where she compares a boating accident with the Titanic. And there are different things. You know, her life experience has been the Titanic compared to others. It would be a boating accident. But you're you're you're wise. Both you girls are wise to reflect on your language and people around you are going to use the language that you use on some level. And I am. And I try to encourage the best language as possible to. But it's a moving target. It's hard. It's hard sometimes. So I don't mean to be offensive, though, but the purpose of people with disabilities are not sick. I can't catch their disability or I can't catch their impairment. But if I think it's a disease that gives me a good reason to segregate them, doesn't it? That gives me a good reason to stay away from it because I don't want to catch them if they have a disease. So we want to make sure we don't treat people like they have a that they have a disease. They just have some sort of an impairment. And then there's also I won't do that one. I'll just leave it there. But there's a whole bunch of them that you can read about that Wolfsberger talks about symbolic, stigmatizing, marking, marking or branding because by virtue of the fact that I have a disability. Every culture has an ugly name for me. Every culture I've been in, I've said, Is there an ugly name for this? I didn't ask.


I don't want to know it because they're an ugly name. So I'm branded by by giving some some name. There's a wonderful video I'd recommend to you. I wouldn't show it in here because the language is a little dicey. But if you look up this guy saw in. And the word retarded. Fabulous video on YouTube where this guy talks about the use of the word retarded. And he was kind of had a lot to do with the movement where the government took the word mental retardation out of all their laws. Just a high school guy talking high school kids. This he knocked it out of the park with this Fabulous. And we bandy these terms around. I mean, I talk to my college students all the time where people, you know, they'll say, oh, I'm so retarded. Quit being such a retard. Right. What a horrible thing to think about the, you know, some of the worst. Don't think about that. But there is a horrible name that persons could use to describe you, whether it's based on your gender or your ethnicity. And imagine, I just bandied around. Oh, don't be such a ugly word as if it didn't mean anything. There's a friend of mine where there was a story in our local newspaper about a guy who, you know, they were going to hire an individual with a disability. And the the guy who one of the coworkers said, That's all we need is another retard down here. And the employer said, No, you're right. You're fired. Right. But that story was in our local newspaper. And when I read the story to our group, one man raised his hand and said they should not be allowed to use that word in the newspaper.


Right. So it's a hurtful word, even though people bandied around as if it doesn't mean it's a hurtful word. So people are stigmatized and branded and marked. People are ultimately jeopardized and blamed. Wound seven. Okay. So the reason we got this budget crisis in California, you know what the reason is? We're spending too much money on those disabled programs. You know, any social service, that's our problem. We're spending too much money on those. Right. Because they're an easy target. You know, when was the last time you saw once being intellectually disabled folks? One year. Last time I saw one of them advocating in Congress or something. They're an easy target. And so people are often blamed. Right. I think about children with autism that are born into families. And there is a real risk to marriages when a child with autism is born into a family. Right. So here I am. And I see this couple over here and they have a child with autism born to them. And my response is, boy, that's going to be hard for you. You're going to have a tough time with it. And then I see their marriage is struggling. Wow. I'll pray for you. That's going to be so. And then their marriage breaks up. Oh, you know, autism is hard. You know, it's it's so it's so hard. But you're just another one of the. Right. So what do I do? Everything about it. I blamed on the autism. I didn't do anything myself. I didn't say autism is difficult. Let me into your life and provide you some respite. Let me come in and. And help babysit for the kids. Let me. Let me do something. Let me step up and be the dog on church in your life relative to your child with disability.


Now I just stand back and wait for it to happen and then blame that child with autism because of the breakup. The autism video here. And I've heard it from friends who have children with autism. They'll say no one ever asks if they can help me. Right. And the people who are the parents of kids with autism, they recognize that it's difficult. They're not going to come to you and say, would you help me? Right. Because they probably have been rejected in the past when they've asked that. And why, how much pain do I need to? In addition to the difficulty I'm facing and trying to raise my child and the impact it has on my life, I'm going to increase that by asking people who are going to deny me. When I say, Will you help me? So you all have got to get out there and get in the lives of these people and say, How can I help you? Can I watch your kid? Can I watch your kid tonight and you and your wife go out to dinner? Can I watch your kid on Saturday and you take the other kid out to the ballgame or something? Can I help you in whatever way I can? You need to get out there and volunteer that. And potentially that will make it so that those marriages feel like they can stay together because they have the external support that they need instead of just blaming the autistic. Distance from other people. By virtue of the fact that I have a disability, people will distance me from them, from my from them, distance me from them. They will distance me by segregation and also congregation. All right. I will find myself socially isolated.


And there's lots of people who try to who do this, and they think they're doing a good thing, but they're not, right. I don't. I don't need you over there. I need you here. I need you with me. Right. There are people who will set up kind of church settings that are almost exclusively individuals with disabilities. And those are there's a huge problem with that because it communicates to the entire other congregations out there that we don't need those people, that someone else can take them away from us and serve them over there. They have nothing to contribute to us within our body. I feel like I feel like the presence of people with disabilities in the church is a corrective. Right. I cannot be my self-focused, self-centered, you know, go and worship quietly and walk home. And not if I if I have people who need me who are in the room or are people who are disrupting my worship. I need to learn to love people who don't understand social roles. Right. Don't understand social values. And yet we think we can isolate him. There's a I came up with. I'll tell you this little thing I was going to go off. I'll tell you this little thing and then we'll take a break and then I think Johnny's coming down. I came up with this idea. Imagine if you imagine if you took your nose off and put it over in a jar. Okay, So I got my nose and I put it over in a jar, and I had it off for a whole long time. A really, really long time. So I. I almost forget to what it's like to have a nose. And so you say to me, you have a nose? Yeah, it's over there.


It's in a jar. It's right over there. And I went for years and years, and I didn't realize what was what it was like to not have a nose, because I've been without a nose for so long. And then all of sudden, I think, you know, their nose thing. I had to put that back on. I've got it back. Oh, my goodness. No fragrances in here. I can smell perfume. I could smell bread baking. I can smell flowers. Oh, my gosh. That lawnmower cutting the grass. That smells amazing. How would I possibly ever know that there are beautiful fragrances in the air if I don't have my nose on? I wouldn't. Right. As long as I keep it over there, I wouldn't know that there were these beautiful fragrances in there. If I had my nose off, I put my nose back on. All of a sudden, it's like, Oh, my gosh, there's beauty out there that I was not aware of. You bring people with disabilities into the church. One of the first things you can discover. Oh, my gosh, There's beauty here. There's beauty that's brought out. I had no idea that was even there. Why? Because those people had been isolated for so long. Right. But another thing happens, though, When I put my nose back on and I smell bad and I smell some bad things. Right. You start bringing in people with disabilities into the church who have been who have been historically isolated, who have been historically isolated. You're going to start to smell some bad things. You're going to recognize how unloving we can be towards people. You can recognize how we desire to segregate people. So that. But that's a good thing. Right. Put my nose back on and smelling the bad things about me is a good thing because now I can change those things.


Right. But as long as I engage in segregation, I never see the beauty and I never recognize the places that I need to change. And so I don't. So that's one of the major reasons why we want to ensure that we are not segregating people. If you are segregating a person for any reason, boy, you better have a dialog on good reason and convenience is not the reason. Well, my favorite verses, I think it's I can never remember it Right. I think it's Mark to. I'll find it out and give it to her later. Or maybe Mark seven. But Jesus is talking to the scribes and Pharisees, and it revolves around this idea of this thing called core band. You know, where they were supposed to get money for their parents or something. I'm not exactly sure. And so they weren't going to give money to support their parents because they were going to do this, whatever. And Jesus says in that section, he says, You exchange the commands of God for the traditions of math. You extend the commands of God for the traditions of men. And then later on that passage, he says, and you do a lot of things like that. And when I think about the segregation that the church oftentimes will engage in relative to people with disabilities, they have exchanged the commands of God that he would want us together, like he would want us to reach out to people disabilities for the traditions of men, the traditions of men being, well, we've always done that this way. And we have to change if we bring those people in. And then you do a lot of things like that is what Jesus says. And I think this whole issue of disability is one of those things.