Monday, June 23, 2014

From Doing to Being – Changing the Language in Disability Ministry

Picture Courtesy
The CNN headline screamed out at me – Invisible in India –The story of the disabled boy tied to Mumbia bus stop. The article begged for an actionable response. 

What should we do?

One of the sub themes, which kept boiling up at this past SITD conference, was the importance of “being” instead of “doing.” As a ministry
“professional”, my colleagues and I often get caught up in the doing of church and ministry – Yes, there is a lot to do!  Yet, the most effective disability ministries – for that matter, the most effective anything ministries—is one where relationship and “being” are paramount. Not until one becomes a friend with another, do mutual gifts and talents emerge. 

One of the largest paradigm shifts most people in disability ministry will encounter comes about when the object of the ministry becomes the initializer of ministry. Ministry moves out of pity and into relationship.

Unfortunately, pity tends to raise money for programs.  Children become objectified on posters.

Is that the Jesus way?  

Americans are masterful at raising money (charity) based on pity. Our knee jerk reaction will call for immediate reforms in India (reforms that have taken a hundred years to get into place here – and we’re not even close yet). We’ll fund source this child in India and pat ourselves on the back and go on our way, thinking it’s over. 

But is it really over? Effective compassion focuses on relationship. We don’t do nearly as well on entering into long term friendships with those in need in our own towns.

So if you want to help globally, than check out ProVisionAsia. Support trainer teams from Special Touch or JAF that are invited in to develop localized ministries already in place.

And locally?  If you really want it to make a difference in your life and others, start by volunteering in your community, churches special needs ministry, or Friendship Group.  But don’t stop there – become a true friend to someone invisible in your community.  That’s how they become visible again.