The priests, serving the Lord
between the altar and the entrance of the Temple,
must weep and pray:
Have pity on your people, Lord.
Do not let other nations despise us and mock us
Where is your God?
Joel 2:17, GNT
WARNING: Graphic and upsetting content within this post!
The disturbing news has flashed across my computer filters all week. A 7-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy was discovered brutally murdered by his father on Sunday, August 14, 2011 in Louisiana. The community in which he lived has reeled with outrage as the father was charged with first-degree murder in the case. As the days unfolded, the mother further revealed that the father of this virtually non-verbal, tube-fed, wheelchair bound boy has threatened to take the child’s life since he was less than 6 months of age. This has only served to fuel the outcry to recommend the death penalty as punishment for this horrific tragedy.
I have found this story to be both haunting and convicting to say the least. For starters, it seems completely unfathomable to a mom who loves and is engaged with her children that a parent could ever commit such a gruesome crime against their own flesh and blood. A person like me sits here wondering how a human person, created in the image of God could find it loving to take the life of anyone in such a macabre fashion. The utter depravity of humankind boggles my mind as I ponder this crime. And yet, I remember the biblical stories of Israelites intermarrying with Pagans and sacrificing their children in the fire to Molek. How this must break God’s heart in ways we cannot even comprehend!
Beyond how disturbing the situation is, I feel a heavy conviction upon the church, including myself as a member, for how we may have failed this family. When this father was hopeless and desperate in the early days of this child’s life, where was the Body of Christ in showing him that Jesus brings purpose and hope in suffering? Where were we to support the mother and father in the difficulty of living with the daily caregiving of this sweet boy? What more could we have done to assure that a situation like this would never happen? And what will we be doing to ensure that something of this sort will never take place again?
My friends, we in the arena of disability ministry must not let our passion wain or our energy fade! We must continue to fill ourselves to be poured out again. Because those living with the challenges, sorrows and even despair of special needs are hungry for the message we have to share. There is much work to do, and we have only begun to scratch the surface.
For some, statistics like the CDC study of the past year identifying 1 in 6 children as having some sort of developmental disability will be enough to motivate them. But for others, this heartbreaking story from Louisiana will need to be told. As awful and unthinkable as it is, it must be told because we are often the only good-news-bearers standing between a special needs family and utter darkness. And living with our hearts broken for what breaks God’s heart will motivate in powerful ways.
I urge you, my co-laborers in Christ, continue to share the news of this community in order to draw more workers to the fold and build the church’s outreach to these families! Continue to convey the urgent and desperate need! We must not rest “until the whole world hears”!