“Don’t Forget About Us!” Ministry with People Isolated by Disability
“How can the church support you these days?” I asked a single mom, “Ronda,” whose 10 year-old is medically fragile.
Ronda replied, “My favorite verse for this COVID season is Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Each night I know that Jesus is giving me rest. But during the day…oh my, I wish Jesus’ disciples would remember me. I hope that someone from church will call…or stop by for a driveway chat.
It will be a long time before we will be able to come back to worship together.”
Many people in our communities and congregations would echo Ronda’s cry of weariness.
People living with the isolation of disabilities echo Ronda’s cry: DON’T FORGET ABOUT US!
How do we, as the Body of Christ, respond to these cries?
As the Director of Bright Threads Ministries, I have been helping church leaders and volunteers learn to make their congregations more inclusive of people with disabilities and their families.
But in this season of COVID-19, I have learned a few things from the cries of people living with the isolation of disability.
First, churches (especially large churches) have been more focused on developing programs than on developing disciples of ALL abilities.
Let’s listen to Ronda.
What did she ask for?
A phone call.
A driveway chat.
Think about who can respond to these requests in your own ministry.
- The people who were active volunteers in church ministries may not be serving in person these days, but they still care! A volunteer could maintain relationships with one or two families through phone calls or a gift bag delivery. Find out how they prefer to be contacted (phone, text, Facebook message…).
- If your church is planning a special event during Lent or Easter, be sure that people who are isolated receive a personal invitation. Promoting virtual Holy Week centers or Easter services through the church e-news is only the first step for these families. A personal call (or message) reminds them that they still belong in the Body of Christ.
Second, begin thinking and praying now about your church’s outreach to the disability community after we are able to gather safely again.
This season of isolation may be a wake-up call for us to become aware of the many people in our communities who long to belong.
I would be glad to help you begin or continue this journey.
I will be teaching an online Center for Lifelong Learning class The Church and People with Intellectual Disabilities from April 11 – May 14, 2021. Come join us.
I invite you to pause now and listen to the prayers of my friends in our weekly Zoom Bible study:
- I want to stay safe. But it’s hard. My housemates get on my nerves sometimes. So I stay in my room. I wish we could go to church again.
- I had COVID two weeks ago. Thank you for praying for me. I am better now.
- Pray for all the people taking care of the sick people.
- Praise God for my birthday!
- Pray for my church. I miss going there.
In your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.
Open our eyes to ways that we can grow in deeper relationships with those who are isolated.
Help us to listen and answer these cries now.
And to remember all those in the Body of Christ. Amen.
Dr. Evelyn Worth McMullen is a Certified Christian Educator, serving for over 30 years in PC(USA) congregations and presbyteries. She is a 2012 graduate of the CTS Doctor of Educational Ministry program.
Since 2015 Evelyn has been the founding director of Bright Threads Ministries, https://brightthreadsministries.org/ showing churches how to weave people of ALL abilities into the fabric of congregational life. She can be reached at BrightThreadsMinistries@gmail.com.
Evelyn is leading the course The Church and People with Intellectual Disabilities this spring. Learn more here.