With wheelchair users making up only 5% of disabled people it has become a poor way of acknowledging those of us with a different type of disability.
More than 1 billion people in the world are living with some sort of disability, according to a new international survey. That’s about 15 percent of the world’s population, or nearly one of every 7 people.
The numbers come from a joint effort by the World Health Organization and the World Bank. The last time anyone tried to figure out the prevalence of disabilities was back in the 1970s, when WHO figured it was about 10 percent. The current report suggests the 15 percent estimate will grow as the world’s population ages.
Like the 1970s numbers, today’s figures are at best an approximation. Many countries don’t collect numbers carefully, and definitions of disability differ from place to place. The World Bank/WHO folks sought out tabulations of people who have trouble seeing, hearing, walking, remembering, taking care of themselves or communicating. Worldwide, the most common disability in people under the age of 60 is depression, followed by hearing and visual problems.
The report includes a foreword by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who can’t feed himself or get dressed or speak without assistance because of his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a debilitating and usually fatal disease. He says there’s a moral duty to help disabled people.
The head of WHO, Margaret Chan, offers up another reason: “Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life.” An editorial in the medical journal The Lancet points out that accommodations for people with disabilities, such as curb cuts, help the non-disabled as well (such as people with strollers).
Why even come up with a number? Knowing the prevalence of disabilities helps organizations set priorities and figure out what it will cost them to set up the kind of programs called for by WHO and the World Bank — programs that make it possible for people with disabilities to take care of themselves, to work and get around.
The report didn’t estimate the total cost of establishing such programs. And it offered no solutions for perhaps the biggest challenge: finding the money.
As Christians often our theology tells us that mental illness, depression, and bipolar disorder have no place in the believer’s life. So we hide, sneaking into our sessions with our therapists, and then change the subject to minimize our exposure to direct questions. We have hidden our issues really well.
But I would submit to you that it is we who are closest to the Kingdom of God. It is far easier for us to approach the Father, in our brokenness, humility, and lostness. We have needs; a sound mind, a healthy body and we know it. We have no illusions of wellness, nothing can convince us that we are well. We are not. We are broken and only our loving creator can mend us.
You might say that the Church needs us. An Archbishop was given an ultimatum by the Huns who surrounded his cathedral. “You have 24 hours to bring your wealth to these steps”, the war-leader declared. The next morning the Archbishop came out leading the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lunatics. “Where is your treasure? Why have you brought out these, people?” The Archbishop said this, “These are the treasures of the Church, these who are weak are our valuables. They make us rich.”
I am afraid the the Western Church no longer sees its “treasures” like it should. In our pride and self-centeredness we have operated our churches like successful businesses. We value giftedness more than weakness. We definitely have no room for the desperately weak. It’s time for the Church to begin to act like Jesus.
Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church should be a verb. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.
- Loved, but Broken (brokenbelievers.com)
- The Comfortable Church (pttyann2.wordpress.com)
Our Daily Bread
January 25, 2013 — by Dennis Fisher
Read: Luke 14:7-14
“When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed.”
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 12-13; Matthew 16
Qumran was a first-century Jewish community that had isolated itself from outside influences to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. They took great care in devotional life, ceremonial washings, and strict adherence to rules of conduct. Surviving documents show that they would not allow the lame, the blind, or the crippled into their communities. This was based on their conviction that anyone with a physical “blemish” was ceremonially unclean. During their table fellowship, disabled people were never on their guest lists.
Ironically, at that same time the Messiah of Israel was at work in the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee. Jesus proclaimed His Father’s kingdom, brought teaching and comfort, and worked mighty miracles. Strikingly, He proclaimed: “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13-14).
The contrast between Jesus’ words and the guest list of the Qumran “spiritual elite” is instructive to us. Often we like to fellowship with people who look, think, and act like us. But our Lord exhorts us to be like Him and open our doors to everyone.
The gospel must be shared with all,
Not just with those like you and me;
For God embraces everyone
Who turns to Him to set them free. —Sper
The inclusive gospel cannot be shared by an exclusive people.
© 2013 RBC Ministries