A UKIP candidate thinks kids with additional needs should be aborted (http://bbc.in/ViUfBl), and a mensa member referred to those with an IQ lower than 60 as ‘carrots’ on the BBC (http://bit.ly/VUmpsY).
Most of us gasped in horror at both of these statements - especially those of us who have family and/or friends with additional needs and disabilities.
It’s only right we should gasp in horror at these things!
But I have a provocative question for the Church and Christians in general - are we horrified enough? Or by our passivity in dealing with the subject of additional needs and disability, are we guilty of causing the same distress?
There is a wealth of info and training materials out there on making a difference for those who have additional needs and disabilities - especially in children’s work, and some are using them, and attending training events - but not enough. Some churches are engaging with these children and their families, but again, not enough.
I speak at many conferences and training events. If we put on a seminar about puppets - the room is packed to over flowing. Put a seminar on about additional needs and we get a handful of folk (Strange when you look at the statistics of how many children have additional needs!) The only seminar that’s even less well attended is the one on prayer - which also says a lot!
There is a Biblical mandate to care for the vulnerable. We make lots of noise about caring for our communities, but if we can’t care properly for those who have additional needs and disabilities, we’re only caring for part of our communities.
We also have a Biblical mandate to evangelize, but children with additional needs and disabilities are often overlooked in this too.
It’s a subject many in our churches prefer to skip over - and I for one would like that to change.
I’ve spent most of my (long) adult life wanting to change how the Church in this country cares for those with additional needs and disabilities - have you? The fact that you are reading this tells me you are of a similar mind!
Would you like to join a conversation on this? To create a vision for change?
Well that’s the whole point of the forum we are holding on Feb 1st in Eastbourne, which will be the start a longer, bigger conversation about this. But this won’t just be a talking shop - this will be a group of people with a passion and a vision for all these children are and can be. From this, I pray, will come change.
There will be further forums in different areas of the country, and an on-line forum to share ideas and work on a way forward.
This won’t be ‘my’ group - this will be a team effort, and the team will consist of anyone who joins.
Please - come join the conversation.