Ministry to the Weak (5)

5. Compassion in spite of Physical Disabilities

There are many other weak members who are physically disabled. They need to have the compassion of the office bearers as well. We need to be sensitive to them and their needs.


Rev. D. Agema, in a speech that he held some time ago referred to the UN Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disability. That UN convention states that “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Let’s break that down. The convention mentions barriers which hinder full and effective participation in society. What would those barriers include?

Obvious Barriers

Well, for example, physical barriers such as curbs without cutouts and inaccessible restrooms. The world has a lot to teach us. Remember the old church buildings which were built in the 50s and 60s and 70s? Those buildings did not accommodate those with physical disabilities.

We just renovated our church building. The law requires that you have accessible restrooms for the disabled. Our old church building had no such thing. It was embarrassing to see some of the older and disabled members in wheelchairs trying to navigate their way into a bathroom. Now you have to have accessible bathrooms.

It used to be even hard for the disabled to get into the building. There were no cutouts in the curbs, and the doors were small and hard to open.

Sadly, the world had to impose standards upon us that would serve those with physical disabilities. Instead it should be the other way around. The church is the one who should demand such standards for themselves and for the others. Look at how the Lord Jesus ministered to those with physical disabilities.

Less Obvious Barriers

Barriers also include communication barriers such as lack of availability of large print materials him for the blind, or effective audio equipment. And so we go on.

The convention also mentions impairments which may not be noticeable to others, or may be “invisible” to those who do not know the person well:

E.g. chronic fatigue syndrome, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, low IQ, blindness or hard of hearing, depression, including postpartum depression. And so the list can go on.

There are many different kinds of disabilities. Therefore, especially in the church they should find a safe and welcoming haven. Instead of the world teaching us how to deal with the handicapped, we should be teaching them. We should be showing the world how to be compassionate to those who have to struggle with various kinds of disabilities.

Look to Christ

Unfortunately, that is not the case. And really, we should be ashamed of ourselves. I know that I am. There are so many ways in which I realize I have failed and continue to fail. And therefore we have to learn, and to be willing to learn. The Lord Jesus showed us the way. He was the prime example of compassion and care for those who have been severely affected by the effects of sin.

The Lord Jesus showed us the way. He was the prime example of compassion and care for those who have been severely affected by the effects of sin.

End of article.