Imagine you are at the dawn of creation when the angels sang God’s praises. Would it shock you to hear lyrics about God’s plan to bring glory to himself by enabling persons with disabilities to lead the powerful across the stage of redemption history?
Now fast forward to the end of times, history’s culmination when the Judge of the Universe sits to hear the testimonies of the faithful who humbly served him. Would it surprise you if some people with disabilities, trophies of God’s sufficient grace, brought the greatest glory through their faithful service?
Don’t be shocked or surprised.
Disability in Mission, published by Lausanne Publishing and Hendrickson, aims to change our perspectives about disability in God’s plan. It includes one story after another of how God sovereignly placed a person with a disability into a missionary family, and how God used that person to change human hearts and lives.
The contributors of Disability in Mission invite you to hear their stories and rethink what success looks like in God’s kingdom. If congregations and churches and mission board leaders will consider these testimonies, we believe that churches will send out more people with disabilities as missionaries and that they will seek out called and gifted leaders, who by God’s design also have disabilities, to lead their churches.
As written in The Cape Town Commitment, we need ‘to think not only of mission among those with a disability, but to recognise, affirm and facilitate the missional calling of believers with disabilities themselves as part of the Body of Christ’ (II-B-4). Are we ready to take up that challenge?
We sing lyrics like ‘You use the weak to lead the strong’ (from ‘Your Grace Is Enough’). But how badly do we want disability grace? This is a tall order requiring transparent prayer.
Heavenly Father, we come before you requesting a miracle. Lord of disability, please change our hearts. We confess that we doubt or dismiss people with disabilities. But worse, we pridefully make them objects of pity when instead we should see your calling and giftedness in their lives.
Please use this book’s testimonies of your sufficient grace. May the many missionary lives lived faithfully with disability remind us that called and gifted people with disabilities are platforms for your enablement, showcases for your glory. Remind us that disability is your stage for shocking a watchful world.
We believe that you can and will heal all disabilities. But on your disability stage, display your power by changing our hearts.
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Dave Deuel serves as Catalyst for the Lausanne Disability Concerns issue network. He is also Senior Research Fellow – Policy and Publishing for the Christian Institute on Disability and Academic Dean Emeritus for The Master’s Academy International.
Nathan G John* is a professor who works to equip churches and Christians to include people with disabilities in Asia. He is the father of a girl with a profound disability. (*a pseudonym is used as Nathan ministers in a sensitive area)