The church must intentionally develop strategies to seek and serve the blind, the widows, publicans, the feeble, and those who are institutionalized in various facilities. Church members in these categories are often in the background, out of the power circles, and out of sight, but must not be forgotten. In fact, we should make sure that their needs are met and that they experience the fellowship of the saints like other members of the body of Christ. It is our duty and our mission to reach this segment of the population with the Advent message, as well.
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus spoke of a widow who persevered until she found justice from an unjust judge who feared neither God nor man. For a long time, the judge ignored the widow’s plea for justice. Finally, he said to himself, “Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. . . . Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”—Luke 18:4-7. The unjust judge was strong and powerful, but, in the end, the poor widow won by the power of prayer and perseverance.
The chapter concludes with the story of the blind man who, that particular day, heard a commotion that was different from before. He was blind, begging on the side of the road but insightful and determined. He was not an “important” person in society, but, like the widow, what he had going for him was his faith, determination, perseverance, and the compassion of Jesus. The more the leaders tried to shut him down, the louder he cried. “Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!’ ”—Luke 18:39, NIV.
In his eyes of faith, he saw Jesus and knew that this was his moment. This was his day and time of deliverance. Jesus could have instantly healed the man at a distance. Rather, Jesus stopped and asked those who brought the blind man to him to bring him closer. This act made the disciples an integral part of meeting the needs of the blind. This shows that those who are around people with disabilities are to help bring them into the fellowship of the church in order for them to meet Jesus and experience the fellowship of the members.
People with disabilities must not be relegated to only a few visits every now and then to appease our consciences and leave us somehow feeling that we have ministered to them adequately. Jesus calls us to do more. Jesus bids us to bring them to Him and to help them in getting the support and healing that they need. The church will also greatly benefit from their presence, talents, and ministry.
Our mission is “to reach everyone in our territory with the Christ-centered message of hope and wholeness.” That includes the widows still asking for justice; the “publicans” who have sinned against the church and against God, begging for forgiveness and compassion; the children in need of materials for Sabbath School; the many spiritually blind who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ; the members who have served faithfully and are currently in nursing homes or other facilities. We have a responsibility to reach people with disabilities and all others who are waiting for us to obey Jesus’ invitation to bring them to Him.
Pierre Omeler is the executive secretary for the Atlantic Union Conference.