My son has Cerebral Palsy (that’s early onset brain injury to the uninitiated). He depends on a wheelchair and is non-verbal. In a way, this reality in our family has always isolated us from the typical western church social structure. We can’t always attend church family events, because access or environment makes it difficult for Isaac. For a while, when he was a very emotionally unstable pre-teen, my husband and I even attended separate church services because Isaac was too disruptive to attend and there was no one to watch him.

It was ok. I’m not complaining. We made it work for us. But it has made me sensitive to the broken people …

The physically disabled, like Isaac – people who don’t come to church because the physical or social structures won’t accommodate them.

Those whose lives have been broken through addictions – people who may not come to church for fear of not fitting in.

The relationally broken – single parents who are outside because they don’t fit the Sunday morning mold of two smiling parents and 2.3 freshly scrubbed children. Mothers who have lost custody of their children. Runaways. Prostitutes.

The economically broken – people who may shun church because they can’t afford the “right” clothes, or car, or the “suggested donation” for lunch, or the fee to send their kid to camp.

I ask the following question of church goers out there: What are we going to do about the broken people?

I have some ideas – but I’m only going to mention one – one that is close to my heart and experiences.

Even though, as a church, you are not required to meet ADA (American Disabilities Act) specifications in your building, do it anyway. Build ramps, install elevators, designate wheelchair seating, provide space and opportunities for families to worship together. If you’re raising money for a building project, don’t start building until you have enough money for ramps and elevators …

Neglecting to do so sends the wrong message. It says …

  • we don’t see you
  • we don’t value you
  • we don’t want you

Exactly the opposite of the message of the gospel …

This post is my contribution to a group writing project at Bloggers Unite to promote the empowerment of people with disabilities.

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