Inclusion Is Not a 'Special Interest', It's the Gospel
December 3, 2016
It is International Day of Persons with Disabilities today
"Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity." Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
I usually blog about this day. But I didn’t know what to write.
I’ve had my fill of being recognised more for my disability than my ministry - because I am more than my disability.
So…. I looked for an article in the main stream Christian press to share instead, and so far - I’ve found nothing. To me, a disabled person, this silence says a lot.
This is a day where I desperately want to be positive. I hate taking the ‘ranty’ and negative ground. Being ranty achieves nothing. Plus, there are shining beacons of light in churches across the country where people with disabilities are more than just included - they ‘belong’. My own church being one - a place where I am loved, safe and accepted.
But many of our national churches and Christian organisations - including the press, could be doing so much more. And what better opportunity for the Christian press to raise awareness!
When I challenge about there being little engagement on the subject, I am told the it is not ‘mainstream’ enough. With 1 in 5 people experiencing disability, how main stream do you want it to be?! (And I’m not just talking about those born with a disability, but also those who have become disabled through illness or accident - whether temporarily or permanently)
Here’s a couple of quotes from the recent ‘No Limits’ (Enabling Church) conference:
“Disabled people are not defined by their disability. But by the character of God.”
“Inclusion is not a 'special interest', it's the Gospel”
There are many more great quotes from the day, but these two make a great point.
Engaging with this subject within our faith communities is of gospel importance. It’s not just a policy, and it’s actually much more than inclusion. This is about people with disabilities feeling as though they ‘belong’.
It’s more than providing physical access, it about discipleship, it’s about developing ministry, it’s opening up all areas of church life, facilitating worship and service. It’s about ‘attitude’.
I recently wrote an article for a great organisation who take the whole subject of inclusion and belonging seriously. It was put on their Facebook page, the title asking a rhetorical question about ‘your’ church being accessible. There was one comment. ‘NOPE’
I long for a day when all those with disabilities and additional needs can write ‘YES’.