By Adam Ballard
Even at the beginning of a new century, with ever-increasing awareness of disability issues, there remains a deficiency in the church’s response and service to those who are disabled. And nowhere are the needs for effective ministry to this community more obvious than in the city. Cities, for the most part, are where the disabled live, attempt to find work, and hope that their basic needs can be met. Efforts in the public sector to provide services to the disabled population are commendable, but are usually stretched thin by lack of manpower and adequate funding. This is a need that could be met by the church.
Beyond these practical considerations, it could be argued that the community of faith has a theological and missional obligation to engage in such ministry activities. Jesus’ ministry was largely concerned with healing and restoration of individuals to community life. I have often felt that the Lord’s healing activity was primarily intended to eliminate the social barriers between those who were seen as unclean or less than whole and those who weren’t. Although such barriers are less noticeable today, they still exist. The church should be continuing Christ’s healing ministry in the city. Whether it’s through job training, advocacy, health care, or simply seeking opportunities to fully integrate the disabled into the life together, there is much that can be done.