See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17, NKJV)
So be careful how you live. Live as men who are wise and not foolish. Make the best use of your time. These are sinful days. Do not be foolish. Understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17,NLV)
A couple of weeks back, our colleague, Dr. Steve Grcevich of Key Ministry, wrote an excellent, thought-provoking post on what he perceives to be “Ten priorities for the disability ministry movement…“. While many of his listed priorities focus on best practices and effective models, I find his fifth stated priority to be one that each and every person can improve upon right here and now. That step is best described as perfecting the art of sharing our own story to a point that will compel others to action.
What has quickened my heart to this priority is the latest horror we witness unfolding in the world. By now, most of us have seen the heart-wrenching photos and stories from the confirmed chemical attacks on the citizens of Syria. Given known statistics, we can safely assume that there were children with special needs who died in these assaults, never having had the opportunity to know Christ. That should break our hearts!
Turning back to our local areas of service, our hearts should be no less broken. Every day we can read dark stories in the news of those who are disabled being abused, neglected, dying in tragic bus accidents or losing the battle with their chronic illness. Churches continue to alienate families who don’t fit into their program norms. Our greatest priority should be recalibrating ourselves towards what our essential mission actually is — To make Christ known and facilitate relationship with Him in the disability community (including caregivers) as a whole. All of our other priorities can be summarized in that one mission.
Dr. Grcevich points out that many leaders in the special needs ministry arena are parents of children with some sort of diagnosis. I fall under that category. I often worry that people are sick of hearing our family’s story. Yet, Grcevich is correct in saying that those stories still need to be heard. Leaders like me can easily forget that, while we live 24/7 with the story of how connection to Christ is an essential component to our joy despite severe trials, others need to hear it again and again. Our stories encourage those who need Jesus and open the eyes of a church that doesn’t know what a huge mission field we represent.
While we struggle with best practices and trying to figure out how to get pastors on board with welcoming those who have any number of challenges into the church body, we must not let time slide by without making the most of every opportunity to tell our story to any who will listen. The world sits on the precipice of World War III. Life-saving health care remains a frightening uncertain for so many. And the world’s morals continue to circle the drain. Any chance we have to reach just one more person affected by special needs with the message of eternal hope in Jesus is one we best not slip by. The time is short indeed. Our noble goals do not present an either/or decision or strategy that must be necessarily executed in succession. While we wrestle with the answers, let us keep telling the stories critical to making Christ known to a desperate world.