Friday, March 16, 2007

A Sad Story

This week I met with someone from Latin America whose wife works with disabled people. One of his wife's ministries is helping churches support and encourage people with disabilities and their families. As an example of why this is such important work, he told me the story of one family. This family had two healthy children and were dedicated members of their church, which taught a "health and wealth" gospel. When they learned that their third child, who was not born yet, had a disability their pastor asked them not to bring their disabled child to church...ever. It would raise too many questions. So for ten years the family kept their disabled child at home and didn't tell anyone at their church that the child even existed.

I was appalled to hear this story! When a family learns that their child has a disability or a birth defect of some sort they need support and encouragement, not weak theology that cannot accept the reality they are living. Jesus welcomed people who were marginalized (sick people, children, sinners, etc). The church should do the same.

I am so thankful for Church of the Savior. They have prayed for and supported us when we were feeling sad and uncertain and have warmly embraced Elijah as part of our church family. Our church loves Elijah for who he is and celebrates with us when he reaches important milestones. They are aware of some of the different issues he faces, but they do not treat Elijah like a problem to be solved. They just love him just like they love the other kids at our church.

I wish all churches were as supportive as our own and pray that God will help all of us (myself included) be more accepting and loving towards people who are different from us. And may God bless the ministry of my Latin American friend and his wife.

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