Ministry and Disabilities - Lesson 2
Why Minister to People With Disabilities? (Part 2)
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 2)
Why Minister to People With Disabilities? (Part 2)
SE004-02: Why Minister to People with Disabilities, Part 2
I. Understanding Disabilities
A. Types of Disabilities
4. Mental Health
B. Prevalence and Impact
II. Biblical Basis for Ministry to People with Disabilities
A. Old Testament Examples
B. Jesus' Ministry
C. The Church's Role
1. Unity and Diversity
III. Practical Steps for Inclusive Ministry
A. Building Awareness
B. Developing Skills
C. Creating Opportunities
D. Fostering Relationships
E. Encouraging Support
- 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 2)
I could tell you once. I could tell you one thing now, we could all go home and not hear anything else about disability ministry and have the whole thing. So you don't want one to find out what the answer disability ministry is. Choose people with disabilities and make them your friends. Okay. I appreciate your being here. Let's all go home now. We can go to Disneyland. That is the most important thing, is finding individuals in the with with various impairments, disabilities in the community, and choosing them as your friends. I once I was doing a seminar for a bunch of teachers in the area near where I live up in San Bernardino. And the first person who was the presenter at this conference training, I think it was 300 teachers or something, training these teachers of kids with severe disabilities. Did this whole thing about full inclusion and special ed programs and how we need to have all the children together in the classrooms and include them and all together. And everybody was, Oh, this is the most wonderful thing I've ever heard. You know, inclusion in school programs, everybody's clapping and whatever. And and the speaker comes up. Oh, how inspiring. That was just delightful. That was lovely, you know? Oh, boy. It's hard to go on. Dr. McNair is going to come up and talk to us about database instruction, which is kind of an area of expertise for me, making teachers be accountable. Right. And so I walked up and I said I said, how many of you interact socially with peers your age that have the disabilities that your children have? And maybe 15 people raised their hand and said, So don't talk to me about getting children to do something that you're unwilling to do.
You're unwilling to choose these people as friends and have relationships with them, but you expect the children to do it in the school and they only have a choice. You need to do it in your own life. Let me tell you about database construction, right? That's exactly what the answer is. There's one of my favorite authors, a guy named Hans Reinders. He is kind of a liberal thinking good, a Dutch philosopher and theologian. And he says the most important thing in life is friendship. And Human Services Act as if they didn't know that. Right. They act as if they don't know that they feel civility, jobs, they facilitate living arrangements. But they they don't they don't know anything about friendship. Sometimes, therefore, they're forbidden to have friendships themselves with with their clients or with people outside. Or it's just it's just a it's just a nightmare. So you have people who are living in social isolation because the only people who are in their lives are people who are paid to be with them, because no one would choose that. No one would choose to be with them. So you want to do something radical, go out there and find a person that's that's a real radical. Find someone with a very severe disability, maybe something someone with severe mental illness, and choose them as your friend. That's ministry, maybe. That's what we should be doing, because these people's lives are filled with people who are paid to be with them. And I'm not I'm going to say something here, and I don't entirely agree with what I'm going to say. Right. But the thing I was going to say is that. I've thought a lot about paid ministers to people with disabilities and churches.
And there's a part of me that wants to say, I wish you could all be volunteer, because that would just be another person who would be paid to be in their lives. But at the same time, I recognize that in seeing people who are doing a really good job as pastors of disability ministry, you need someone who can dedicate their full time to that. I can tell you for myself, okay, my wife and I, like I say, I've been doing ministry for years. Our ministry will never go to where I would like it to be because I don't have the time to take it there because I have a full time job. So I can only devote what I can. So but you can see it's a it's a double edged sword. I don't want another put another person in their life who's paid to be with them. I want people to choose to be with them. So anyway. One, two, one. Loss of control, autonomy, freedom by virtue of the fact that I have a disability. People around me who make all my decisions for me or. Unfortunately, too many times people are in positions of making decisions for me and I don't get to make decisions for myself. So if I'm living and if I'm living in some sort of a adult residential facility, people tell me what time I'm going to bed. People tell me what I eat, people tell me I want to take a shower. People tell me when I can go outside. When I can come inside, I make new choices for myself. They're all made for me. And if I decide, you know, you know, Barb says, you know, I don't want to go to bed at 6:00.
I want to go to bed at 8:00 because there's a television program on my responses to not to say, let's celebrate your autonomy or my response, to say, I got a behavior specialist who can help you. I'll come in here and help you get to bed when you're supposed to go to bed. Right. And I've gone to group homes at 6:00 where people are in bed asleep, you know, And why would they be imbedded sleep at 6:00 when they're your age? It's because it's administratively convenient for the people who are running the group homes. And there's other kinds of things that happen to work. I mean, some of you may have had this experience, particularly if you if you have a physical disability or something where, you know, say, Barb, once again, as a woman with a physical disability and you guys go out to a restaurant and the waiter will come up and say, does she want something to drink? You know, what does what does she does she want a hamburger, too? You know, because you have a physical disability. Obviously, you can't make a decision about what you like to drink, you know, Or the other thing will be what you like, a hamburger, you know, because you have a physical disability. So obviously you can't hear also. But that's not to do with that. But so there's a there's a there's a certain extent to which people with disabilities, their autonomy is taken away from them. People are telling them what to do all the time. And that's one of the things that we really focus on in our ministry is that, you know, I'll have staff come in that are you know, that oftentimes have to come to the church with the individual with disability.
And, you know, they'll be sit down, you know, if the person's getting up and whatever. And I would stop what we're doing and say all you staff in here, don't be shushing the people who are in my ministry here, Right. This is the one place they can come and drink too much coffee if they want to without someone, tell them how many doggone coffee they can drink and if they want to have three donuts instead of one. You know what? Don't give them a donut later in the week. You know they're coming in here. They're going to be able to make choices on their own. How many of you have ever drank too much coffee in this room? Yeah. Tell the truth. How many of how many of you have ever eaten too much sweets or. You were sick, right? Okay, come on. Everybody else needs to have that same right to make those bad decisions and live with the consequences. You know, I will go into detail with that. But in terms of the consequences that I've sometimes facilitated in the lives of individuals who are not entirely toilet trained, but just you can see where that goes. But at the same time, I think people need to have autonomy and freedom and we need to facilitate that because people live in their lives and they're taken away from it. And in the thing I'm going through this, can you see how each one of these is kind of like a little jab? Oh, I don't get to make my own decisions. Oh, everybody in my life is paid to be with me. Everywhere I go, I'm segregated. Can you see how that's kind of a wounding? It's a constant wounding. I remember early on when I was involved with work with particularly people with with more physical disabilities who are cognitively typical.
Some of my friends would be so testy, you know, the least little thing would happen and they just would have a cow. And I was thinking, what do you have a cow over? Bingo. It's just a little thing. And then a light came on. You know, if you are in pain, right? If you're in pain and I'm not talking honestly, physical pain, although that may accompany it. If you're in pain because of the way that society is treating you, then one little thing comes wrong and oh yeah, you it's the straw that broke the camel's back kind of thing. Right. So typically, if people are overreacting, sometimes it's probably because they're not react, it's because they're in pain, because of the social experiences that they're having. And it's just the next thing that kind of drives them over the edge, discontinuity with the physical environment and objects. Oftentimes people, particularly with more severe disabilities, they are more protected from the or the environment is protected from them rather than there being facilitated access to the environment. So you go into places and you know, the things of beauty aren't there or nice possessions are not for them because why would I waste that on them? You know, why would I waste a good cup of coffee? I one of the things I always do when I'm with friends with with severe intellectual disabilities, I take them off to Starbucks. I buy them a $5 cup of coffee because I see my friend with a severe intellectual disability. Maybe he's drooling or something and he's holding a $5 cup of coffee and people are looking like, why would why would you waste a final a cup of coffee on that guy? Right. That's the idea behind that.
I obviously don't agree with that. I do that specifically so people can say there is somebody who would spend five bucks for this guy to have a cup of coffee like that. Right. I deliberately do that in order to set the environment up to to be in a dissonance and think through that little bit. Uh, let's see the individualization. Excuse me. Social and relationship, discontinuity and even abandonment. I have a whole lot of friends who have never met their parents, never met their mother. Why? Because they were abandoned or abandoned at birth. And, you know, I had a friend, sweet man named Mark. And every so often he'll just come up and he'll say, I don't hear from my mother, ever. And I said, you know, that's a darn shame, because she's missing out on knowing a great man. Right. Do you think she would like me if she knew me? Of course she would like you. She'd be so proud of you and the things you're doing. Got this job for so long. You're amazing. So that's going on in the back of the mind all the time. You know, about being abandoned potentially because the person had a disability, that they were abandoned. There's a woman at my church, very mild intellectual disability. You can see most of my experiences with people's intellectual disability. So forgive me if I over emphasize that, but there's this woman, dear friend of mine, and you know, I'd known her for known her now for probably 12 or 15 years. But early on, I remember one time I said, Hey, how was your Christmas? You have a nice Christmas. Oh, I had a great Christmas. Oh, cool. What did you do? And she said, Oh, I stay at home and watch the TV.
So you stay home. Watch TV? Yeah, I watch the parade and everything. I said, Well, your your family lives in Riverside. Yeah, but they never invite me over for Christmas. I said, Well, I'll tell you what, from now on, you're coming to my house for Christmas and for like the next ten, 12 years, every year she'd come to our house for Christmas when I. And then this thing happened this past year. Doggone it, I said, Hey, we're looking forward to your coming over Christmas. She goes, I'm going somewhere else. Oh, so who are you going somewhere else? You don't ask me. So I don't know if someone else asked me first. I love that. I love that. Right? I love that here. I think I'm going to invite the disabled person over for Christmas. And she goes, The heck with you. You didn't ask me quick enough. I'm a desirable person. Other people have chosen me, right? Yeah. As soon as you said that, I said, Well, you're invited next year. I don't want to hear this nonsense about someone else invited you over, you know? But I love that she had power in that situation over me to say you didn't ask me quick enough. I'm going somewhere else. Right. And it goes along with this idea, though, of abandonment in terms of saying her family's right next door and they don't anything to do with her. So And her mother just died recently, too. And very Christian funeral and everything like that. And I'm thinking, wow, the individualization, reducing humanness. This kind of relates a little bit to number ten, but there's a whole lot of things that people do that contribute to people. Perceiving individuals with disabilities as less than human. Part of it is the individualization where I treat you as a group, right? And sort of instead of treating treating you as an individual because obviously you are all disabled and so you all need the exact same treatment, right? That's that's how we do it.
It's the disabled community, right? So we're all the disabled communities. I treat you all the same because you're all becoming the most important thing in your life, obviously, is the fact that you have a disability. And so therefore, I can just treat you all according to that, that perception. No, of course not. That's ridiculous. That's horrible. I mean, once again, my friends with intellectual disabilities, right? Sometimes I will have them speak to my classes at the university. And, you know, with the fact that disability is the defining characteristic of a person's life is a goofy idea. This one woman I love this woman, her name is Amy. And I said to her in front of this group, I said, Amy, do you have a disability? And she says, Yes, I do. I said, Oh, really? What is your disability? She says, I have Down syndrome. And I said, Oh, how does that affect you? Sometimes my foot hurts, sometimes my foot hurts. You know, so here I'm saying, you know, I'm saying, you know, you're Down's syndrome, intellectual disabilities, stuff like this. Terms of her feeling of Down's syndrome is whatever. There's a great other great video. I can't think of the exact title, but. I think it's called one question. I later, I'll show you. I have a weblog that I write stuff on. You might find it there, but it's the most fabulous video. They have a whole bunch of adults with intellectual disabilities and they ask them one question What would you change about yourself? Right. And the thing that's so crazy is that, you know, as as a person in the audience, you know, to see this person who obviously with this intellectual disability, what would you change about yourself? Obviously, you'd want to change the fact that you're disabled, right? You have an intellectual just you want to change that, right? And these people say things like I like saying, you know, I like myself the way I am, or they'll say things like, I wish I was a nicer person or, you know, things like that.
So once again, to to take people, treat them as a group, as if they're not individuals and then dehumanize them at the same time as horrible because they don't I mean, if be like to humanize you on the basis of some other characteristic which has become somewhat irrelevant in your life, I use that carefully. I mean, I want I want to minimize the impact of impairment. But at the same time, it is not the defining characteristic of your life. We'll talk about reducing humanness later in round 18. But that's one thing that's fascinating with me And teaching my teachers to work with kids with severe disabilities is that in the public schools they are constantly advocating for the humanness of their students, which is a different kind of thing you have to do as a teacher advocate for the humanness of your students, Jonny alluded to this 14 involuntary material poverty and financial exploitation. Because I have a disability, I can count on living in material poverty, which is which is, as a friend of mine, one, I used to be the pastor of my church when we had the ministry started at my church that included people with disabilities. He said, You know, one of the most exciting things about this is that we're ministering to the poor. The Bible say anything about poverty? Jim Wallace, very kind of liberal radical theologian, says that if you took cut out the verses that have to do with poverty, there wouldn't be much left in the Bible because the Bible is very much about poverty. So a disability ministry is obviously a ministry to people who are living in poverty. Another quick story. This guy, there's a sometime you'll see it. Mike was on the strip, too.
We did this video or we did this video of this trip of taking a couple of friends of mine to El Salvador to do a mission trip. And they both these guys happened of intellectual disabilities. Well, I know this guy for like 15 years. We have we have we have lunch together every Friday. I mean, it's dear friend of mine. Well, we're getting ready to pack his clothes. And I said, Hey, do you have enough underwear for the trip? We're going to be gone for ten days or whatever. He goes, Well, I don't think so. I said, Well, let me come over and we'll check it out. Oh, my gosh. This guy had about four pairs of underwear and they were all totally in shreds. I mean, they call them underwear. Is there more like rags? And so I'm looking at this. I mean, I know this guy for ten years and I'm an expert in all this stuff. And I didn't realize that my friend was living in absolute poverty because guys don't pay attention to cozy guys where you know what I mean? Wearing a T-shirt and jeans, I don't care. He had three pairs of underwear totally in shreds. He had about four t shirts and he had one pair of jeans, had one pair of shorts. That was all he had. And you know, this is my friend I've known this guy didn't even know. So you can almost assume oftentimes that people with disabilities are living in poverty. Something else about poverty, too. Not only are they living in poverty, you can you can assume that in any society, the people who are living in poverty, people with disabilities are living in poverty. And you can assume that the bottom of the people who are living in poverty are women who are living in poverty.
Women with disabilities are the most impacted group, I think of any group internationally, which is something that you need to be aware of. Financial exploitation, too. There's a lot of the it's frustrating, but at the same time, I completely understand that a lot of the regulations that that govern people with disabilities living in the community are to protect them from the community because people take advantage of them. I mean, with the with the exiting of the institutions that we'll talk about later today, they closed the institutions, put the people who are in the institutions, in the community and gave them a Social Security check. Well, I mean, where are the people who are living on Social Security? What part of the community are they going to live in? Are they going live in the upscale part? Are they going to live in the not so upscale part? And unfortunately, in our society, there's a lot of crime associated with the not so upscale part. And so people were often victimized and continue to be victimized financially. But it goes beyond that. I visited group homes where, you know, a guy I know who has a base, who loves baseball, his baseball glove. And every so often he'll say, hey, I want to show you something in my room. And I always do that. And you should always do that. If you're at a place in a residential facility and people invite you to the room, go to their room just because you can look around and survey the possessions that they have so that when you go back, you make sure they're there again because people in a group home will take those possessions. And so I went into I went into his room and I said, Where's your baseball glove? I don't know.
I lost it. I don't know. And so I went out to the person around the group home and said, Where's where's this baseball glove? She goes, Oh, my nephew is using it. So who know? Who do we talk about your nephews using this? These people's possessions are your personal thing to me. I didn't say it this way. That's what I was thinking it, though. This is this is these people's possessions who live here are yours to just give to whoever you want to mess with. What are you talking about? Can I go in your house and use your possessions as I would use? So you want to make sure that you're aware of that stuff. And there was other kinds of there was another time with another residential facility where people are actually were stealing stuff and sending it away to people and whatever. So, you know, a person would have a nice pair of a jacket or a pair of pants or something, and all of a sudden they're gone and they were sent to somebody. So you want to make sure that you're aware of that so you can protect people and raise some questions. Impoverishment of experience. That's typical of the valued world. 115 By virtue of the fact that I have a disability, I may have never been to a birthday party. You know, I've taken I've taken 40 year old men to their first restaurant. My wife and I took a woman who was 50 to her first wedding. So that just the typical experiences that people have in life, oftentimes people with disabilities will not have had those experiences, partly because of the fact that they've been segregated. So you think about, you know, having a Thanksgiving dinner and, you know, it's a big deal for your family or whatever.
You invite somebody over for your Thanksgiving dinner, maybe the first one they've ever gone to with the home cooked meal. Big deal. You think it's a big deal? My gosh, it's a big deal. You know, you're going to go to the grocery store and, you know, pick up some groceries or something. You call up one of your friends who who is potentially it has an intellectual disability or something like that to go to the grocery store with you. They may not have gone grocery shopping before with someone had gotten vegetables. Well, so you're giving them all new experiences. You know what's going to happen as a result of this to your friend, your friend that you took to the grocery store? You know, Cindy's going to say, hey, do you know Jeff? Oh, yeah. He and I are friends. We go to the grocery store all the time, you know, looking for groceries and, you know, so you've set up this relationship where this person knows somebody. This was first highlighted to me about ten years ago when my son, when he used to live at home, I developed a relationship with one of the men with intellectual disabilities in our group, and he just invited him out to Chipotle. And so maybe maybe once a month that at most they would go to Chipotle together, go out to a restaurant. Well, this guy, I bet you 75% of his conversation is how he and my son are Chipotle buddies. We go to Chipotle all the time. Yeah, Josh and I are friends and we go to Chipotle all the time. And even now, my son's, you know, my son's in marriage for two years, has left the home, lives in a different city for probably the last six years.
And you know this guy every so often I see him you know, you and you, Josh and I would travel with buddies. Don't you think he'd like to? So he would love to have Chipotle with you. He lives in different cities, married and stuff. Now. It's kind of hard, but my son still makes the effort when he's in town to call this guy up and go have Chipotle right now. You think Chipotle is not a big deal? This guy's living on Social Security in a city like Redlands where his apartment is $900 a month. Right. So he probably between his work and his social. Purity has about let's shoot high and say 1100 dollars a month in expendable income. And somebody calls him up and says, You want to go to Chipotle? Let me let me call you up and say you want to go to Lowry's downtown, you know, which is a couple hundred bucks for dinner. You'd say, Yeah, I'm there whether you like me or not. You know, I'm there. I get a chance to go. Lowry's right. So it's the same with if people are living and if if I had my friend here, other of my friends, I said, Do you like to go to McDonald's? Yeah, I like to go to McDonald's. You go now. I don't go too often. I thought, Would you like the Donald's? Yeah. It's too expensive. All right. So you're going to McDonald's, call somebody up and find McDonald's. Big deal. Really big deal, because they don't have typical experiences. Exclusion from knowledge of participators in higher order thinking that give meaning and direction provide community. So wolfsberger. Like I said, he was not some kind of radical professor who was trying to pounce on religion and condemn everybody.
He himself was a very devout Catholic and. But I mean, this is damning. If I have a disability, I can count the fact that no religion wants me. Virtually no religion wants me at all and a whole lot of reasons why. And, you know, I mean, I wish every religion would would take take the people who are adherents of that religion and include them in their in their religious practices and whatever. But, you know, we're here for about to about Christians. The fact that Christians don't do that just is horrible. We claim to be the face of Jesus Christ to the community, and yet we don't take the devalued disenfranchized people. The other thing about this too, is that the agents of the Christian church don't do this either. So let's take Christian schools, for example, that claim to be the face of Jesus Christ to the education community in the city. Right. I did a little research probably eight years ago, probably better, Lord willing, in California. And 1/10 of 1% of Christian schools had special ed. 1/10 of 1%. That's special Ed. So the Christian schools don't want them either. Right. And then you hear this. I mean, I can go off on this and go off on all this stuff and go off on this. It's too expensive. Oh, How much was a football stadium? You know what you think the Lord would want to have the people who are disenfranchized and devalued in the community to be attending the Christian school so they can hear about things of the Lord or for you to have that brand new football stadium. I know it's tough question, but. That's the fact. So we don't want to do this. And my response to this is, God forgive us, my gosh, that we would claim to represent Jesus Christ and be that way towards individuals who are hurting and devalued in the community.
Oh, like who? We're representing somebody but assuring the Lord Jesus Christ if we're doing that. So I would really challenge you on that. I really challenge you that if your church is not doing that, to kind of talk to your church and say, Listen, we are missing this big time here, we're. We got this wrong. We've got to do better. 17 having one's life wasted by virtue of the fact that I have disability, people think I have nothing to contribute, you know, And so just put me in any old program or any old whatever, and, you know, that's good enough for me. I see this in the public schools. It makes me crazy when I'm supervising student teachers in the public schools who are working with kids with severe disabilities and the programs. And a lot of the programs in the public schools are really, really bad. They're little more than babysitting and no one makes any. Confrontation, any effort. It's fascinating. In school districts, sometimes you'll have a group of parents who are very vocal and very active and they've got their lawyers and whatever. And if this is if this is the standard level of education, you'll have this blip that'll go through. It'll be amazing education that follows these parents, because they're the ones who got the lawyers. And when the lawyers go away, the standard goes way down again. So I can I can literally, as an educator, waste your child's education if they have a severe disability. And there'll be no consequences. No repercussions, whatever. Yes, ma'am. Please, Please do. Many are professional names and their teacher talks are great, up to three teachers. And she said, Oh, we have a great work culture. But because she was in the fire department, you know, they wanted to modify or accommodate in the works, and she just wasn't doing well.
So it's like, okay, I'm like and she's like, Oh, it's great. She's going to love it. They had a reading, reading Baltimore culture, I guess that sort of quotes for. That's horrible. Yeah. And it was justified. And the administration stood behind the woman. And yeah, there's there's a whole lot that out there. I wish there was and there's a whole lot out there. And one of the things that's happening, too, because the educational programs are not what they should be. There's all kind of, you see all weaves together. Educational programs are not what they should be. So students are not developing vocational skills that they would otherwise develop. So they're end up not in integrated vocational settings in the community and end up in segregated vocational settings in the community so that their lives once again are filled with people who are paid to be with them. And they don't have the social or excuse me, the physical proximity to typically developing people so that they can develop friendships with others other than the people who are exclusively in the disabled community. So it's all kind of related. But there's a whole lot of there's a whole lot of things that are like that where people just lives are just totally wasted. You know, you go to shelter workshops. If they run out of work, the people aren't allowed to do anything. They're not allowed to go to a shelter workshop and play games or anything. So if there's no work, they have to sit. You know. I have no problem wasting your time because obviously your time has no value. And in 18 being the object of brutalization, killing thoughts and death making by virtue of the fact that people have a disability. People are trying to take my life literally trying to kill me.
They either try to kill me before I'm born by trying to do prenatal diagnosis, determining that I have some kind of difference about me and taking my life then or later points either if if it's during in the midst of my life or at the end of my life. A couple of them just give you a couple of things. Flesh to sell once a couple of things to flesh this out. First of all, research indicates that 90%, 80 to 90% of mothers who prenatally are diagnosed as carrying a child with with Down's syndrome will choose to abort. Now, couple that with the fact that our tests prenatally for Down's syndrome are getting really good. I mean, we're going to end up growing up or living in a world where there's no people at Down's syndrome because they're going to be I mean, unless it's the Christians or others who choose not to go through the prenatal diagnosis, but it's going to go to other things as well. I mean, you think what we think is going to happen when they find out the genetic cause of autism? Same thing there. They're already doing it for people who have physical disabilities, whether it's minor bifida or other types of disabilities. And it's definitely that can be detected prenatally. So the whole entire desire is to take the lives of people prenatally through prenatal diagnosis and abortion. Second thing, and the other end of that is euthanasia. Now, they're still doing euthanasia too. In the early you know, a child is born with a disability and you know, they're leaving them on the table to die or something like that, or actually active, actively taking their life because of because autism is often not diagnosed until 30 months of age.
I think it was Belgium that was wanting to say that, quote, abortion, euthanasia actually should be able to be permitted up to age three years and children. Right. So that you have a disability that develops later. Well, you know, we would have we would have terminated you if we had known, but we'd only know until three years old. So now we'll do it. So those kind of things are happening and they're continuing to happen in the middle. I'm sorry, you can say something. Yeah. No, women are still going to be part of our university. You know, specifically on I, I, I've seen the reality of that and. And I've seen the reality of that different places that I've worked on. I used to work at a place for people who would take care of kids with soccer balls. And I remember touching on the same subject in regards to. Death. You know where what you're talking about is? What's going on. Absolutely. Absolutely. There are people who there's there was a story recently, last five, seven years about a guy who had Down's syndrome, whose parents had a do not resuscitate order. Right now, these do not resuscitate orders are typically for people with very, very severe disabilities, often people at the end of their lives, etc.. But this guy had Down's syndrome how do not resuscitate order and he developed pneumonia. Right. And so the group home, which was a Christian group home, put him in the hospital and he recovered. Right. Well, then all these lawsuits started coming down because he recovered. So he he developed into pneumonia, came back. He developed pneumonia. He was taken away from the group home. He was put in the hospital. They didn't treat him and he died.
Right. So you your life can be taken in the middle of your life if you have something like that to do, not resuscitate order In reference to number 16. Where would one kind of the spiritual consequences of this? Where would one find the spiritual consequence of disappeared? The spiritual consequences of that. I think you're going. I'm not trying to. I could totally. I could totally dance with this. But I think you're going to cover it a whole lot more as this as this course moves along, because it's going to talk a lot about theology of disability and suffering. And in that section should be. Should be. Yes, sir. I will tell you, too, though, that some of the most critical spiritual consequences of disability relate to faith development. And so, I mean, there's one of the articles in this curriculum my wife and I wrote about how to facilitate faith development in people with various disabilities. And so that's an aspect maybe that that I mean, if a person has a very severe intellectual disability, what do you developing when trying to develop faith versus a person who has a physical disability and they're totally cognitively intact, but it could have an impact there, I think. But but with people with severe intellectual disabilities, my feeling is to trust the Lord, is to trust the Lord. On the one hand, I do what I know I should do. I'll tell you this story real quick. This is a once again, it goes to the age appropriate in this kind of stuff, right? There was a church that was offering a curriculum for adults with intellectual disabilities and a lot of the curriculum with for people with intellectual disabilities while out of the way we do faith development is way too knowledge focused, in my opinion.
It's way to knowledge focused so that if she knows 16 Bible verses, then that obviously means that she's a Christian and loves the Lord. No, it doesn't. I mean, I had a college when I started at the State University who had a, you know, a masters of divinity, and he was totally abandoned everything and had gone off into an alternative lifestyle. And so and he knew a whole lot more about theology than I did. So that there is is there a knowledge component? Absolutely. But is there something other that's true faith development other than knowledge component? Absolutely. As well. So you want to facilitate that. But the joke that that that was this there was this person doing this very knowledge based curriculum for these severely disabled people, and they were doing lessons that revolved around Noah's Ark. Right. Well, I mean, think about what's the take home lesson of Noah's ark. God is no longer going to destroy the world with fire or with water. You know, there's other lessons as well. But but I'm thinking about the take home lesson for a person with a severe intellectual disability from Noah's Ark. There's not a good one, you know? And they had these people, they were holding these little stuffed animals, you know, that were the animals going on the ark and everything. And I'm just sitting there thinking, these people, the intellectually disabled disabilities are just absolutely confused about what this is all about. They're all the foggiest idea. And so the person who was running this ministry, I confronted the person and I said, you know, I think we know a little bit about the way people with intellectual disabilities learn to say that this is probably not the best approach. I think it's probably more confusing than anything else.
And the guy said, Well, God says his word will not return void. And I'm like, Well, I know God that God will not allow his word to return void. But God also said that, you know, you have a brain. Why don't you figure out the best way to do things and do them that way, you know? And they said, well, the spirit of God can move and these people can get understanding out of this. And I walked away from that class saying, you know, the slogan for this ministry ought to be come to our church and come to our disability ministry. It'll be a miracle if you learn anything. Right. Because they're not using the principles that they know are the best principles for educating people who have these characteristics. They're just throwing this stuff out there and a very knowledge based orientation and saying, Let's let the spirit of the Lord sort it out. I'm not foolish enough to say that the Spirit, the Lord could not sort it out. But I'm also saying there are ways that we can do things that can facilitate people have understanding rather than just doing an approach that is not necessarily oriented to the needs of a particular individual. Yes. Yes, that I think Noah's Ark is a great. Lessons for mentally disabled individuals. Okay, I'll put it this way. Okay. That point remains primary point, at least according to the New Testament information, is that it's an illustration of us in Christ that Christ is our savior, He is our Redeemer, and through our sin, he sustains those by his redemption. I don't use those words, but you could say Noah and his family, the animals, when the ark protected through a terrible flood, just like Jesus attacked you for eternity.
That's a great object. I'll give you that. I'll give you that. The issue is I'm not going to be sold. I'm not going to be sold. I'm not going to be sold that easily. But because there's an issue of generalization that people with severe disabilities have difficulty with generalization, taking something into one setting and then applying it to another. So I know a lot of the folks that I that I interact with would not make that connection. So but different opinions, that's fine. To tell which individual will make that connection, which won't. But I'd rather say I'd rather say it's someone to have people chase away from specific areas of scripture. I would agree. Just because a person may have more time cognitively, director might around it. Because there are there is a way to simplify. I believe there's a sequence of like every last. I'm sure that. I would agree. But I would also say if we are saved in Christ, why not just say we're saved in Christ instead of having people to make have to make a connection between animals in a boat and being saved in Christ? It's easy for me to make that connection for a lot of the people that I interact with, it would be better for me to say. But different opinions. Different opinions, I appreciate that. And then the death making thing, which was a loophole, I'm sorry, you can say, oh, the death making thing that was alluded to also is at the end of life, you know, where people are, you know, the whole Terri Schiavo thing. It's crazy where we take feeding you and make it a medical procedure. And so we we remove medical treatment and that means we starve you to death.
I mean, you're not dying if we feed you in the same way, any of you would not die if we fed you. But we now make feeding a medical procedure. We remove medical procedures, and I'll be darned. You die because you don't get food. So there's a problem there. Other aspects relate to our language, too. It's real subtle. But we people will have a have severe issues, you know, a disability, whatever. And a person dies and people will say, it's better this way, but be careful with that language. There's a whole thing we're going to talk about this afternoon called Nazi Germany, where they determined it was better this way. And so they deliberately took the lives of people. So we won't be very careful about our language. You know, you could say something like, the person doesn't have to deal with their disability anymore or, you know, they have a new body or or something like that. But I don't think it's better. I think it's better. I mean, I have I have a father in law with severe Alzheimer's, you know, I mean, it breaks my heart. The guy was a brilliant pediatrician. It breaks my heart to see him the way he is. But if he dies, I'm not going to go in there. Say it's better this way. No, it's not. I love my father in law. All right. So all this. I want you to take all this and and put in the back of your mind. Think of Romans 12 two. Romans 12. Sue says, Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world any longer, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Light of the world is doing this. All this stuff. That's one thing.
If the church is doing this stuff, that's horrible. We are conformed to the patterns of the world. What about ministry? Imagine that this is me and I'm a person who has some sort of an impairment and I'm out here in the world, okay? And I'm feeling the full weight of the social consequences of my disability because I'm out here in the world. Imagine if I went into a setting called the Christian Church and I didn't experience that anymore. You know, people gave me choices. People gave me access to beautiful things. No one abandoned me independent of what my behavior was or whatever. People treat me like I'm a valuable human being. People help me with material things when I need them. People give me typical experiences how I would not be able to stay away. Right. This would be so much an amazing place. I would not be able to stay away from this. I use the term social healing now. I mean, is God able to heal people? Absolutely. Have I seen people healed physically from their disability in my lifetime? Not a one. Not a one. That doesn't mean I don't think it happens. I just have never seen it. Now, I also told you at the start of this that one of the difficult aspects of people of having a disability, having an impairment, are the social consequences. Right. I can't do anything about the actual disability. Chances are maybe I can. Maybe I can make it less of a functional impairment, but I can certainly address the social. So you come to my church and there's my Lord, My, my, my prayer is that you will experience social healing. So you will not experience the social consequences of your disability when you come to a religious setting that represents the Lord Jesus Christ.
People with disabilities could not stay away from that. You feel the power in that they would not be able to stay away. Right? Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Perfect. Perfect. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And it's truly a slice of heaven, right? Because the social. I don't feel it anymore. Right. All right. I I'm already into the I'm still in the first lesson and I'm not done yet. And I'm I'm so far behind. I love this from Johnny. She says, I won't be a normal son someday. This is the normal Christian life that I'm experiencing. I won't be normal some day. This is the normal life. You recognize that 20% of the population in America is affected by disability, meaning persons have a disability themselves. So think about it. 20% of the population has a disability currently. Everybody will either die or have a disability at some point in their life. But think about that 20%. What percentage of the population do you think are people who are affected by the person who has a disability, their brothers and sisters and children and parents, if not even more, if not even a closer to 100, you know? So we need to take this on. It is the normal. So that's that's the thing that's crazy that I would love to change. Disability isn't the norm. No, disability is the minority. Right. We've been convinced the opposite. Disability is the norm of levels of severity. Obviously, disability is the norm. No, disability is the minority in my mind. Some of the things I want to talk about briefly, different religious myths in a general sense. There are there are three major models of disability that people point to when they think about understanding disability, man. The first one is called the moral model.
This is going to be a mad dash. And the moral model says the reason you have a disability is because you did something wrong or someone else did something wrong. You send somebody did something wrong and that's why you got this disability. That's why. Right. There's Bible talk about that at all. Remember the passage where Jesus walked along in the disciples making conversation, Oh ho ho, so-and-so, that she's blind, right? Jesus said, Either this man or this, or his parents sin with this happened that the that the works of God might be seen in his life, etc. I could go off on a different translation of that that this Bible scholar gave me one time. But let's just leave it there and say sin is not the cause of disability. My personal sin is not the direct cause of disability. If I had if I had a true understanding of sin, and if sin was the cause of disability, all our children would be disabled. Right. If I. If sin were the cause of disability, meaning my personal sin that I'm a liar or I'm a thief or whatever, if my personal sin was the cause of disability, then all of our children would be disabled. And the fact that I know that sin is not the cause of disability is neither of my children are disabled. Because trust me, if sin were the cause of disability, my children would be disabled. So the moral model says it's all about sin, or it's all about cursing, which is another thing. John. James, we'll talk about that a little later this afternoon as well. That is something that I did and that's that's the result of mine. That's what causes my disability. Then there's all kinds of people who will say, I know people who go to churches and they'll say, talk about faith and all that.
If you had enough faith or you wouldn't have your disability, etc.. You know, I'm confessing the whole job thing. The reason you have this happening to you is because you run confessed, sin, etc. like that. The Bible does not support that. Great answer. If someone says you had enough faith, you would be could be healed of your disability. You should say, Well, if you had enough faith, you could heal me of my disability. Medical model. The medical model basically says that you're not okay the way you are, just the opposite of what Johnny had in that quote. That that's the main thing I have to do is change you. And obviously, there's nothing entirely wrong with the medical model. I mean, if I can facilitate help for you, I would I should do that, whether it's a medical issue, a medical treatment or through rehabilitation or something like that. But if my entire interaction with you is that you're not okay the way that you are, we need to fix you. That's kind of a very not very nice orientation that constantly thinking that the person needs to be fixed. And how does that find its way into the Christian tradition? Can we can we pray for healing for you right now? Right. That all we have for you is healing. All we have is healing. And if you don't get healing, then that's. We have nothing more to say to you. Jonathan, when she was doing her television, put together her television program, she looked on to see what was out there on television. The only programs of Christian programs on television were about healing. There was no programs on how to live with disability. And so that's what she the nets that she tried to get into.
But this healing thing, should we pray for people to be healed? Of course. Of course we should. But if all my interact if every time I saw Cindy, I said, okay, I can provide for healing. Sandy. And that's a little later also. Anyway, anyway, for healing it today I prefer that's not the interaction, right? Healing and faith is not an equation. Right. It's not. If I have enough faith, I get healed. Where does that come from? From the scriptures. That's. Three times I asked the Lord to take away my thorn in my flesh, and he said, My grace is sufficient for you. This sounds like a stupid thing. It sounds like a stupid thing to say, but God is so wise in the way he put his Bible together. The way he put the Bible together. You know what? Because I could see him, people out there saying, if you had enough faith, you could be healed. And so he takes the man of the greatest faith, probably in the history of the world. Right? Who says three times he has to be healed three times. It probably wasn't like walking down a street. Oh, yeah. By the way, Lord, this thorns kind of bug me. Would you take it away? Thanks a lot. You know what I'm thinking when Paul says. I remember the three times this was probably weeping and, you know, and dust and ashes and prayer and fasting. Right. And God says, no, migration. Was recession sufficient for you, Paul? Because my powers make perfect and weakness, you know. Oh, didn't want that even for himself. When you crave that, he wanted it because he wanted to be more effective for God. Yeah. And it's interesting, later on in that passage, if you look at therefore I would delight in persecutions and blah, blah, blah, whatever.
It's interesting. You can equate them with a lot of the wounds that he's experience here that we talked about. But anyway, the fact of the matter is, is it's not it is not an equation. So maybe God will heal me, maybe he won't. But my faith is not the critical factor that forces his hand. Right. Because he's going to do what he's going to do to accomplish his purposes. Look at what he's done through Johnny, for goodness sakes. My gosh, who would ever wish that on a person? I would wish they had one person if they were able to do what Johnny has done. My goodness. What amazing life. The last one, real quickly, is what's called the social model mode. And the social model says that let's assume I'm a person who uses a wheelchair. The social model says I don't actually have a disability. My disability is the way you treat me. Right. There's really actually nothing wrong with me at all. Nothing different about me at all. My disability is the way that you treat me. You see all the stuff that you do to me. These 18 things you do to me. That's my disability. And so the issue is that it's entirely the environment. It's nothing. It's a characteristic of the individual that is different or atypical. Now, this that particular social model, it's still somewhat in vogue, although it's moving out a little bit, has tremendous political power. Right. Because of everything that I'm experiencing is your fault, then I can make laws to change you. And what was the classic law that they did in America? The ADA. The ADA is totally based or totally grew out of the social model of disability. Totally agree. And that's a good law that as.
But as you read some of the authors who've written about this, there's this one guy I love. His name is Thomas Shakespeare. And Thomas Shakespeare. And writing about the social moral disability. He says, Can I blame society for my urinary tract infection because I use a wheelchair? You know, and so it's of starting to break down a little bit in terms of saying, well, there's a lot of negative things I experience, but disability is something beyond that. There is actually a characteristic that I have that could be potentially called an impairment, which is at least partially related to the definition of disability. But a whole lot of the definition of disability revolves around the life experience of people from these wounds because they have this characteristic which actually should be somewhat irrelevant in terms of how we socially interact with them. You maybe we say, Hey, can we provide a little assistance or something if a person has some kind of a need, but it should be somewhat irrelevant. Something that's going to happen as we go through here. And I want to be careful just to talk about this. And that is to say we could be we could be thinking of that. It's an us versus them kind of a thing. And I talk about people with disabilities or those people or them or something like that. When I'm talking about that, I'm talking about people in leadership versus people who are trying to facilitate something. So my assumption is that people in leadership will be people with a whole variety of different characteristics, one of them being individuals who have disabilities or impairments of some kind. So the US versus them, we're talking about leaders about facilitating ministry. Okay. Just important to make that statement.
Why? Minister to people with disabilities, this is kind of a no brainer here, but share gospel with all alleviate suffering media changes in the social environment. Those those those social consequence of disability, the 18 wounds, you should try to prevent them if you can't prevent them from happening at all and they're happening, you should try to alleviate them or lessen them. And if you're able to in their present, you remove them. So either prevent them, remove them or alleviate them and lessen them to the degree that you're able stand for social justice. I wish the church was doing more of that, although it's doing some facilitate growth change society. It's all about love, basically trying to be loving to other people. This stuff. We already talked about this a little bit. Some questions ask yourself. Do you have people with disabilities in your life, your age, peers who are persons with disabilities, people that could use your friendship? Consider how you can build new friendships with people who have disabilities or who have that as a characteristic. Where could you meet them? What interests might you have in common? We don't have time to do a small group interaction, but be something that'll be worth talking about over dinner or something to note about how you can facilitate that, how you can find people in the community. Some people say, I don't even know where to find the people who are have intellectual disabilities in the community. Well, that's I mean, that tells you how bad it is. I can't even find them. I teach my classes and one of the things that I do is I bring four friends of mine who are adults with intellectual disabilities to my class, a class like this.
And all we do, all we do is we go to the the burger joint on campus, break them into four groups, and people have conversations with adults with intellectual disabilities. And at the end of the night, they're like this rock my world. I had no idea. I thought they were sad. I thought their disability would be the most important thing in their life, Right? So these are people who are 25, 30 years old, grew up in a Christian church, and have never had a conversation with a person with a disability. How can that be? I mean, we know how it can be, but how can that be in the Christian church that you could grow up and never have that a conversation with a person with disability? It's our fault if we segregated them, but if they're present, we need to do that. We have time for a couple of questions before we take our lunch break or comments. And I love the fact, okay, I'm a university professor. I love the fact that Cindy called me on that thing about Noah's Ark. That's that's good. This is not open your mouth or open your head and dump it. This is an inner interchange and get their ideas. I love that. So if you don't agree with me, I can deal with it. That's okay. Yes, ma'am. Just because of your doctrine has developed a worldview and personality that they are so difficult to reach. They're difficult people. They're. I can be around really negative sometimes self-pity and you know, you know that, you know, you break it all down, but they're still hard to wrap their. Yeah, that's I mean, that's a great question. I mean, I've had some people like that in my life.
I have a friend who's got traumatic brain injury, has a memory deficit. And, you know, he'll say, you talk a good game, you don't give a damn about people with disabilities. You never do anything with me. You know, on the day before, we'd gone out to lunch and all this stuff. And so there's there's an aspect of it that, you know, it's just a part it's a part of the game, so to speak. You know, that I recognized this is who you're going to be and this is who I'm going to be. And like I told my friend, you know, hey, I'm sorry, I'm not going anywhere. I'm your friend. I'm not going anywhere. I when when things are good, I'm with you. When things are not so good, I'm with you and Lord. Well, and you're this one spark of love and positivity in this incredibly difficult life for this person that they're facing. So I think I think the bottom line is the communication, that I am not going anywhere, because oftentimes that will also be used as a way to say, See, you don't really care about me and then drive you away or something. But it's very difficult. But but just picking up on that, right. Imagine there were more of those people in the church. We would we would we would be better because we would learn to love difficult people and I would grow in my faith. But you know what? I don't want to learn. They just do negative, you know, I don't want to I don't wanna be with her. Right. But if she was with us. Wow. Fabulous. Please. When you're talking about segregation, What about I mean, specifically the thing. Preschool school. What do you do? I love the paper.
You haven't had on writing in behavioral therapy. But sometimes when you come in there, they're frustrated. You don't have to make sure we're treated like that if it comes out of, you know, something that we can. So. The first thing I would say is there needs to be a place for everybody in the church. Everybody. Okay, Now is the place for everybody in the nursery. Uh, probably not. Okay. And remember, I talked about segregation. Is there a good reason for segregation? Absolutely. If you're violent people, if you're a sex offenders, there's a good reason for segregation. The thing is, I think with this is, on the one hand, the children without disabilities need to have the experience of understanding this person a little bit. So we figure out how to do that. The flip side of it, we don't just put the kid with the other kids and he's hitting people and we celebrate the fact that we're doing integration. I mean, so there's a wisdom there, but at the same time, the wisdom does not say we take these kids who are who are challenging and always segregate them. We have to figure a way to figure out some even some tiny little thing. You know, if it's adults sitting here holding you down while we're singing hymns or something, at least you're present and the kids are communicating to the kids. This person is a value. Look at the amount of time we're devoting to that. This person can be a part of us in spite of their challenges. So, yes, don't defend families with disabilities. Absolutely. Absolutely. Great, Tom, because it's it's really more than I mean, it's much more perhaps sometimes we treat that disabled person, but not the. Absolutely. And there's a whole thing in the literature.
It's called sympathy stigma. And that is that by virtue of the fact that I'm involved with people with disabilities, I will experience some of the same stigma, even if I'm not a family member. One more question. I want to give you a comment, sir. Design disability in the next century. Divine Disability. Oh, definition. Yeah, I think I do. I think I do a little bit. I think I do a little bit. But I continue to be wishy washy on it, so just be ready for that. One last one last comment and we'll take our break for lunch and just relate it to a difficult person involved in the ministry. True story. This happened in my church. Okay. There's this woman who came to the college age group and she had mental illness and she had mental illness. That was difficult. And so she'd come to the you know, the the college group and seems to be swearing at everybody and causing all these problems. Swearing the people in at night, you know, should get on the phone and call the pastor and say, you know, I just alerted the police about that sexual harassment that you did to me yesterday and all this. And everybody's all up in arms and all the what are we going to do? And so because my wife and I are kind of like the disability people at our church, you know, the pastors met with us and said, surely this is one we can kick out, right? Surely we can get rid of this one. Right. And and and the Lord gave us a little wisdom and and we responded. And this was something to think about, too, if the person was violent. What is the value added that this person brings to the church that we would not have if she were not there? Right, because the parts of the body that the Bible says, the parts of the body that seem weak are indispensable.
But does this person bring that we would not have if she was not there? And so then we started brainstorming and we came up with this idea, What if we had a Bible study? Well, what first of all, what if we said to this woman, Listen, you can't swear to people here. If you swear, you're going to have to leave. You got to leave for one week and then come back the next week. But you can't be swearing at people here. So we have some standard that we put on the woman. But what if we set up a Bible study where I talk to you and I said to you, listen, we need leaders in this group. This to to be willing to be in a Bible study once, twice a month, whatever, with this woman who has mental illness and you volunteer. So we have group of six people, whatever. We got this Bible study. The entire focus of this Bible study is loving this woman with with mental illness and all the things that go side with it. And it doesn't matter what she does. During the Bible study, we're going to love her and her, except her. Okay, now let's think about that. I've been in Bible studies all my life. You too, right? All your life, you've been in hundreds of Bible studies. Probably. If I said to you. What did you study when you were in your college Bible study group? You'd say, I remember there was a cute girl in there. Or You remember that cute guy in there? I don't remember what we studied. You'd never forget the Bible study where you learn to love a mentally ill woman. Never. And think about how you'd grow in your faith and your understanding of God's love for you.
You think it's easy to love you, for goodness sakes, right? I think so. Oh, yeah. And me, for that matter, too. Right. You see what I'm talking about? About the value added, About the value added. And that's not entirely a perfect example, because people with disabilities aren't just kind of object lessons or something like that, but at the same time, that's faith development. That's why that person is indispensable to the body of Christ, because the way that she will develop love and faith in the people that are around her. Lord Jesus, thank you for these folks and their heart. And there's a degree to which, Lord, we're all just kind of trying to figure this out. And so we ask for your guidance of your spirit, Lord, and pray that you grow us in our maturity and understanding your heart for people who have various impairments and who are devalued and disenfranchized by society so that we can better represent Jesus Christ to those people. And man, Lord, if we had your heart, if we understood your heart, oh my gosh, the church would be a place that people could not stay away from. So help us to do that.