By PETE WINMILL
‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ John 10:10
‘Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…’ Romans 12:4-6 NIV‘Everyone in the world has a right to know who Jesus is …’ (Brother Andrew July 2005) I don’t believe any Christian could deny the heart cry behind that statement and yet so often in our society and in our churches we deny this right to a large sector of the community.
There are 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK. That’s almost one person in 50. But where are they? They are in every community, and they need to know that Jesus loves them. So whose job is it to tell them? The church – that’s you and me, but most of us don’t even know how to begin.
A friend of mine, Lesley, says she doesn’t mind me explaining that she is an adult with learning disabilities if it helps people understand. She asks us to remember that she isn’t a piece of luggage with a label attached; she is a child of God who is fearfully and wonderfully made – just like you and me.Pray:
+ That churches, all types and sizes, will have a growing desire to reach out and touch the lives of vulnerable people.
+ Ask God to give us a heart to come alongside people who are so often shunned by church and society and share with them through words, pictures, signs and actions.
+ Ask that our eyes are opened to ways of befriending their families and ways of supporting people who can feel so lonely and isolated at times.
+ ‘Forgive us, Lord, for the times we have judged a parent for the behaviour of their child, or when we’ve turned away from an adult who doesn’t speak but makes strange noises’. Our God has created each and every person.
+ Let’s pray that these new friends come to know Jesus, enter into a real relationship with him and are welcomed into his family, the church.
Just like everyone else who knows and loves God, people with learning disabilities have gifts that are designed for the building-up and encouragement of the church, so let’s pray that their gifts will be recognised and used well.We should pray that the church will be ready. Ready for what? Ready to reassess what we do, why we do it and how we do it. Church may never be quite the same again but it’s nothing to worry about. Our God,I believe, is longing for a vibrant, multifaceted church, a living organism and not merely an organisation, united by Him and in Him, with each person doing their part to strengthen and encourage the others.
Pete Winmill oversees the strategic development of the Prospects network of groups and activities across the UK. He has also spent many years in localchurch leadership. He believes passionately in a church that is open to all. How can we work together to make this passion a reality?
To learn more about ‘PROSPECTS’ follow the link to their website:- http://www.prospects.org.uk/