“And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,
which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him;
and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”
Okay, so I don’t know that the Good Samaritan was riding a horse. The Bible said it was a beast. I guess that could have been a camel, a donkey or a giant lion for all I know, but for the sake of the point I want to make – it is a horse!
This is the next in my ongoing series on how to help and reach out to the disabled and make them feel loved and welcome in our churches. We started with “Would You Walk On By” which really deals with if you even have a heart enough to stop and see the need. Then we talked about “This Verb Called Compassion”, which talks about compassion being something we “do” – not “feel”. We are of no help to people if we don’t stop to see their need, and we are of no good to people if we stop and stare at their need, “feel” sorry for them and then move on. Today, I want to take a little different approach and take the next step that we must take to help those with disabilities. Today’s focus may sound a little harsh. That is not my intention but this must be said as I know it is a true problem. We are focusing on the passage that says that the Good Samaritan “set him on his own beast.”
Disabilities are uncomfortable. Not only to those of us who are disabled, but for those of you who are not. You are not sure of the correct lingo, you don’t know how to approach without feeling like you are staring, or you don’t know how to act when you must say or do something that is not your norm. For example, have you talked to a deaf person who only lip reads? Have you ever reached out to shake a hand of someone who doesn’t have one…or can’t use it? Have you ever tried to have a conversation with that mentally challenged adult who only drools and grins at you but never answers you back? Have you ever said the words “let’s walk over here” to a person in a wheelchair? All of these scenarios suddenly throw you into a very uncomfortable situation and by nature we avoid anything uncomfortable.
I think there are many who truly want to help the disabled and who truly want to act in compassion, but you are just afraid to get off your horse. It is comfortable up there, it is secure up there, and it takes some effort to get down. But the Good Samaritan did get down. Not only that, but he bound up the injured man’s wounds, poured oil and wine in them, and then….are you ready? He put the injured man on HIS beast! He sacrificed his own comfort for the comfort of one in greater need than himself! Are we willing to do that? What does this mean in the real world?
It means that when an autistic child screams in our services, we all don’t turn around and stare. Instead, we wrap our arms around those parents and ask if there is anything we can do to encourage them. Then, listen to what they say and help them. It means that when we have deaf in our community, we find a way to make sure they get an interpreter in our services. It means that when that mentally challenged teen (who is only developed to an elementary level) wants to be in the youth group, we let them be with their peers and we work around the problems and teach our young people how to love on another child of God. It means that when that mentally challenged adult wants to sing in the choir or sing a special in church, that we get off our high horse and quit worrying about who will be embarrassed and let them worship the Lord in their church! It means that equal access to restrooms, platforms, Sunday School rooms, and gymnasiums is for every single person in our church – not just those who can walk up and down stairs. You say, “Do you know how much work, time and money this would take?” Of course I do! But we must start somewhere! We must get down, go over, and put their needs and feelings above our own as we lift them back up. This is what it means to “get off our high horse”. Quit milking your advantages in life because I promise you that if you or one of your children became disabled, you would have an entirely different attitude. I know. I was there once.
I must stress again how many hurting disabled people are out there. When I read on forums and blogs and statuses of so many of my disabled friends, I feel guilty. I have not experienced so much of the loneliness and hurt that they have experienced in their churches, families and friendships. I am very thankful for the strong support I receive in all of these areas, but I will not be selfish in what I have received. I will fight to my dying breath to make sure that others can receive this same inclusion. God has given me a big mouth and I want to use it to help others that do not have the access to communicating that I have.
Let’s get real practical with these steps:
- Look around your facilities. What changes need to be made? Are the restrooms accessible? Do ramps need to be built? Are the doors wide enough? Is there a place to make a quiet room for children who need a quite zone? Make a list and start working through them to solve them. You don’t have to be a ministry leader. Do this as a volunteer and then volunteer your finances, your skills or your time to make some things happen. If you need a list of what to look for, give me a comment and I will send you one.
- Look around your congregation. Do you have families that attend that have special needs? Notice how many church functions they come to. See if they get invited to parties. Do they come to church fellowships? Ask the moms what their daily routine is like. Do they need help with a meal, a night out, a project or spring cleaning? Could you sit with their child in a quiet room at church so the parents could actually have a church service together? Could you go to the ministry leaders as an advocate for that family to see that they are being taken care of? Figure out a way to pour oil and wine into the wounds of their lives.
- Look around your community. Do you ever see people with special needs? Take the time to pay attention. They are out there. What can be done to share the love of Christ with them? Don’t leave this to disability ministry people! When the disciples would tell these people to leave Jesus alone, they were always corrected. I think Jesus has a correction for us – stop leaving them alone! Don’t hinder them from Christ – help them!
- Look at the individual. Stop waiting for everyone to be like you. They won’t be. Every individual has dreams, desires, feelings, emotions and needs – even those with disabilities. Their list may not look like yours, but they have a list. Don’t look at what they “have”. Look at who they are!
If you have any ideas or questions please leave me a comment!
Series 1: Would You Walk On By?
Series 2: This Verb Called Compassion