Hidden Disability, Hidden Treasure (Ros' Blog)
Recently, while doing some research on disabled characters in the Bible, I came across an interesting theory, put forward by a Jewish author, that Esau may have had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It might explain why his mother found the foetal movements during pregnancy excessive, why he liked to be physically active, out hunting as often as possible, why his behaviour was impulsive and why he failed to anticipate the consequences of his actions. It might also explain why he married women who were likely to upset his parents without considering that it might have this effect and why, when he realised his parents were ensuring that his brother Jacob didn’t do the same thing, the penny finally dropped and he tried to make amends by taking a third wife, his cousin.
It reminded me of Ann Memmott’s suggestion that Nicodemus may have been autistic. He seemed to want to avoid socialising, and so came to Jesus at night, after the crowds had dissipated. He didn’t recognise that Jesus was speaking figuratively when he talked about being born again. Instead he took the phrase literally and asked, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” He attached great importance to applying the rules, and got upset when others did not do so. He was intensely loyal to Jesus, even when this meant being misunderstood or despised. And when he prepared spices for Jesus’ burial, he got really carried away and prepared a ridiculously excessive amount – imagine carrying a weight equivalent to nearly 35 bags of sugar along the road to the tomb, an amount which, in today’s money, would be worth in the region of £200,000.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about disabled characters in the Bible, I think of Mephibosheth, or Moses with his speech defect, or the paralysed man let down through the roof to Jesus. But maybe, hidden within the pages of the Bible are other people who struggled with disability, yet whose impairments are not so visible. And when you think about it, this shouldn’t really surprise us.
Studies show that around 19% of the UK population have some kind of disability. Many of these disabilities are not visible. You can’t tell, by looking at the woman who parks in a blue badge space and walks into the supermarket, that she has fibromyalgia and on another day might not even be able to get out of her chair. You can’t tell, by looking at the puzzled commuter staring in bewilderment at his fellow passengers rushing across the bridge to another platform, that he is deaf and hasn’t heard the announcement about the change of platform. You can’t tell from watching the angry child shouting defiantly at his mother in the supermarket, that he’s autistic and the sensory overload of the retail environment is on the point of pushing him into a full blown meltdown. You can’t tell by looking at the woman occupying the priority seat on the bus that she has a heart condition which would exhaust her if she had to stand for the journey.
As in the Bible, and as in society, so in your church. There will be many people whose disabilities are concealed. Some of them will be acutely embarrassed about their impairments and will go to considerable lengths to keep them hidden.
This is why Dave Lucas of Disability and Jesus encourages churches to produce all their documents in accessible format, because there will almost certainly be some visually impaired people in the church who don’t want to embarrass themselves by asking for a special large-print version. If everybody is given the large print version, they are spared the awkward choice between declaring their impairment or not being able to read the hymns and notices. A handrail alongside the steps will benefit everybody, not just the man with cerebral palsy who finds negotiating steps a challenge where there is no handrail. Making a point of using a microphone every time not only helps those deaf people who you know about, who use the induction loop, but also those older members who aren’t yet quite ready to admit that their hearing isn’t all it used to be.
What can your church do to make sure that no one, however concealed their impairment, misses out on all you have to offer?
The Eutychus Effect (Ros' Blog)
We had a TV for only a year when I was a child, before it died and wasn’t replaced until many years later when I was 16. But the programme I most remember from that one year was the one my mother never missed, All Gas and Gaiters. I remember in one episode the chaplain played by Derek Nimmo is having a word with the Bishop...
“I’m rather worried about the Archdeacon, my Lord.”
“Oh really? Why? What’s the matter with him?”
“Well he fell asleep during the sermon on Sunday, my Lord.”
“Oh, that’s not serious. Who was preaching?”
“He was, my Lord!”
I always think of this episode whenever I read the story of Eutychus in Acts chapter 20:
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third storey and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’ Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”
This story can be a good analogy for what happens when illness or accident suddenly leaves a person with a disability they didn’t previously have. While you’re getting on with life and not really bothering much about anything – nodding off and dozing, if you like – your life suddenly falls out of the window and comes crashing down on the pavement below. It looks like the end of everything. All your hopes and dreams lie shattered on that pavement. Nothing you planned is now going to come to pass. You might as well consign the life you dreamed of to the grave, bury your visions of what your life was going to be.
But this is also the story of the God for whom nothing is impossible. It’s a story of resurrection. Out of the wreckage of everything you were looking forward to comes a new life full of unimaginable vitality. It might not be the life you previously planned. It might be one spent in a wheelchair, or in bed, or without sight or hearing. But it’s also a life in which you becoming a living, breathing testimony to the power of God, and of His wisdom in choosing you as a demonstration of His kingdom, of the fact that all of us have a part to play, that each one of us is valued and loved and needed if His house is to be full.
Who could be “greatly comforted” by your story today? Who could look at your life with all its limitations and be encouraged that God never gives up on anyone, and still has a role for each of us to play in fulfilling His purposes? Is there someone you could share your testimony with today?
Churches Inc in Kenya 2018: 3 & 4
Kerry and Trevor from the UK, plus Pastor Shadrack from Tanzania and Pastor Davis - the host and teacher - are hard at work in Elburgon, Kenya for Churches Inc from the 7th to the 17th February. They'll be sending back updates and stories from the trip as often as time and internet connections allow. This is their third update, covering days 3 and 4 of work - you can find the second one here.
12th Feb / Workshops
We held our first workshop for parents and their children, as well as adults with disabilities. In the workshop, we have tried to make things much more practical and interactive.
Our translator, Margaret, is a fully trained specialist in education for children with disabilities. So she actually went beyond translating to helping with the teaching itself.
Churches Inc in Kenya 2018: 2
Kerry and Trevor from the UK, plus Pastor Shadrack from Tanzania and Pastor Davis - the host and teacher - are hard at work in Elburgon, Kenya for Churches Inc from the 7th to the 17th February. They'll be sending back updates and stories from the trip as often as time and internet connections allow. This is their second update - you can find the first one here.
Today we travelled 12km from Elburgon to the town of Molo. Since we were leaving early to travel, we did not have time to pick up Smati, but she was so upset by this that we agreed she could come by public transport to meet us part-way. Smati is so passionate about what we are doing, she wants to be always with us. She is 22 yrs old and knows her own mind. It is not easy for Smati to get around, so her mother and a lady called Margaret carried her and supported her all day even though this means they lose a day’s income. People here rely on day-to-day cash in hand work to survive so it is a sacrifice for these ladies to come with us.
Churches Inc in Kenya 2018: 1
Kerry and Trevor from the UK, plus Pastor Shadrack from Tanzania and Pastor Davis - the host and teacher - are hard at work in Elburgon, Kenya for Churches Inc from the 7th to the 17th February. They'll be sending back updates and stories from the trip as often as time and internet connections allow. Here's their first post, covering the first few days of the trip....
We thank God for our safe arrival in Elburgon. At every stage of the journey, the team prayed and thanked God for protection. This is not a small issue as we were later told that road accidents are one of the biggest causes of physical disability in Kenya. We were privileged on the journey to get to know Pastor Davis, our host. There is a verse that ‘out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks’. The overflow of Pastor Davis’ heart are such things as abiding in Christ, listening to his voice constantly, serving God and not men, and looking for what God is doing in every situation. The other subject that is constantly coming out of Pastor Davis is how best to serve people with disabilities in Kenya.
Roofbreakers Assemble! Spring 2018 Area Networks
Our Roofbreakers share a common heart to enrich the church through being a ‘bridge’ – enabling disabled people to belong and contribute to church, and help church fully involve disabled people. As part of their mission, we encourage Roofbreakers to get together in local networks to share ideas and support each other. These Area Networks are a safe space for people with a common heart to share experience and progress, learn new ideas, update, encourage and pray for each other. We've got two coming up who'd be very happy to hear from anyone local who's interested in attending...
Shrewsbury Roofbreaker Network
17th February at St Peter’s Church, Monkmoor Road, SY2 5BL
For more info or to register, please contact Phil Ramsbotham on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01743 240465
Bristol and Bath Network
The Bristol and Bath Network are also meeting on the 17th February at Saltford community Church, 30a Norman Rd, Saltford, Bristol, BS31 3BH
Contact: Abi – Abi.email@example.com
24th February at St Andrew's Church, Leyland, PR25 3EL
Lorraine Innerdale from the Good News Group will focus on the Deaf church and teaching a few BSL signs. For more info or to register, please contact Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 6th March. Contact Claire on email@example.com for more details.
Also meeting on Tuesday 6th March. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Remember Me (Ros' Blog)
Our pastor was recently speaking on what it means for us to remember Jesus. He pointed out that to re-member is to piece back together what is dis-membered, and he suggested that every time we come together as the Body of Christ, we are re-membering Him in our very act of meeting in fellowship.
I looked up the origins of the word remember. Some sources suggest that it comes from the Latin memorari, to be mindful. However, I like my pastor’s suggestion that it might come from membrum, the Latin for a limb or bodily member.
I like it because it suggests that when we remember, we are somehow reintegrating something that has become disintegrated. We lose sight of what Jesus is like in the daily business of our lives, when so many distractions call our attention in other directions. But when we come together to remember Jesus, our image of Him is pieced back together again as we each share with one another the part of Him that we see most clearly.
I like it because it suggests that when we remember one another in prayer, we are bringing someone’s fragmented life to the Lord for Him to put it back together and make it whole again. What a privilege to be able to do that for someone else. What a relief to think others are doing that for me.
And I like it because I recall the dying thief who asked Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, and Jesus’ reply, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” It conjures up for me the picture of a man whose life had been broken by sin and failure, whom Jesus was willing to take up and piece back together not temporarily but eternally.
And for us, whose lives are fractured by pain or weakness or impairment or disability, we have this great, everlasting hope that Jesus’ mission to bring healing and wholeness will culminate in us being not merely pieced back together but made completely new, with resurrection bodies which may, like His, still bear the scars of our lives on earth, but will be limitless in their ability, unimpaired and completely free to fulfil, unrestricted, the eternal plans that God has for our unending future.
Who could you remember in prayer today? Who could you get together with (if not physically then perhaps by phone or social media) to remember Jesus? And what difference does it make to your life today knowing that one day, in your new resurrection body, there will be no limits to your ability to explore and fulfil God’s plans for you?
Give Freedom this Lent!
Save £1 a day during Lent, (plus £2 extra on Easter Sunday) and you could change the life of a disabled person in a developing country, by giving the gift of freedom through a refurbished wheelchair. In many of the countries we work in, being disabled is considered a curse, but when our teams give someone a wheelchair, the curse is cancelled and they are blessed... opening the door for us to share how Jesus has changed our curse for a blessing. Please sponsor a wheelchair for £42 by following this link to our Justgiving website.
Alternatively, please send us a cheque (not coins!) along with a sponsor form - the form can be downloaded and printed by following this link or by contacting...
- The TTR office on 01372 749955 or email@example.com
If you'd like to advertise the appeal, please feel free to use our poster, which you can download by following this link.