Making Hope Accessible
With our new name and brand comes a new commitment to making hope accessible to ALL people with disabilities around the world. But why? First of all – why hope? Second of all – why is hope not accessible already? What do we mean by that exactly?
If you’ve been around the ministry for very long, you know that we do what we do because of the barriers that exist for people with disabilities around the world. Barriers to education, to health care, to housing, to service institutions, and to church can be physical – no ramps, uncovered gutters, etc., but the biggest barriers are more often in the attitudes of the people around them. People with disabilities are often kept from these places of service, relationship, and worship by others who view them as cursed, demonic, or not fully human. Physical barriers make access a challenge, but attitudinal barriers make access nearly impossible!
The extreme challenges and barriers that people with disabilities face around the world, but especially in non-Western cultures of the Majority World, coupled with the lack of a viable voice to advocate for their own needs or the needs of their children, often leads to feelings of hopelessness and despair for people with disabilities or their families. And because these barriers exist even in the church, they have nowhere to turn for help and hope.
Through Biblical education and challenging discussions, church, ministry and community leaders assess their own beliefs and attitudes about disability, laying those alongside Jesus’ words and actions. Where there are differences, we wrestle together with what needs to happen – on a thought level, a heart level, and a practical level – to bring those into closer alignment.
As these ministry and community leaders’ eyes are opened to the error of their previous way of thinking, and the mandate that we have as believers to invite people with disabilities to become disciples of Jesus, their whole attitude begins to shift. They begin to look for ways to reach out to those with disabilities in their own environment, drawing them into compassionate community and a place to belong, be loved and to serve. This changes everything!
As people with disabilities hear about a God who made them in His own image, with a purpose, and to demonstrate His glory, their lives take on new meaning. When they learn that Jesus gave His life for them to give them access to their Heavenly Father, they find out, maybe for the first time, that they are loved and can live an abundant life. Hope, previously out of reach for them, becomes accessible! And when people have hope, they find a new way of life – impacting everything! The spill-over effects of hope open doors of opportunity for learning, for employment, for income generation, for purpose, for relationship – for joy!
Join us in opening doors of access – to hope!