Saturday, October 29, 2016

Did Jesus Have a Disability?

People with disabilities have not always felt valuable. This includes the context of the church. Are disabilities just a reminder of all that is not right in the world?

But what if Jesus had a disability? I'm not suggesting that he had autism or was lame. But consider this passage:

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Many people see the cross as the greatest sacrifice that Jesus experienced. But what about the incarnation? God the Son became a human being!

One of the first heresies was not doubts about Jesus' divinity but about his humanity. Some could not believe that Jesus really became human and that he must have only seemed to be human.

But the incarnation teaches that Jesus really became human. He emptied himself. If taking on humanity with all of its limitations is not a disability, what is?

People with disabilities should not feel out of place in churches. They should feel right at home because the foundation of Christianity is about the worship of the disabled God.

Friday, October 28, 2016

5 Ways to Support a Family With Autism

Perhaps you know a family that has someone with autism and you desire to support them. But what can you do? I would like to offer five things that you could do to help this family.

1. Treat the family with love and respect rather than pity.
2. Provide some respite by watching their child so that the rest of the family can do something they have been hoping to do.
3. Take the siblings of the child with autism out for a fun activity.
4. Talk to the family member with autism and treat them with respect, even if they seem to ignore you or are not listening.
5. Pray for the entire family. You can tell the family you are praying if you wish. But do not tell them you are praying for healing from autism and that they should expect "normal" any time soon.

Bonus Item: Educate yourself on autism so that you can speak to them intentionally. It might not seem like a big thing, but it is.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Biggest Need For Families With Disabilities

I may be too presumptuous in making a judgment about all families with disabilities, but I'm at least confident that this applies to a good majority of families. I believe that the biggest need for families with disabilities is respite.

What is respite? Respite is when someone watches your child so that the family can either get some rest or do some activity that they wouldn't normally do. It could be for a couple of hours or even for a weekend. This is not babysitting, as caring for a person with a disability is more complex.

The biggest need is not finding money to pay someone, the biggest need is finding someone to do the respite. There were many times that we had funding to pay for respite but had no one who would do respite for us. I have recently heard of other families going through the same thing.

Why is it so difficult? I assume that many people are intimidated by the idea of caring for a person with a disability. While it isn't for everyone, it is also not as overwhelming as some assume.

If you are a church that is looking for a way to minister to families with disabilities, offering respite would be a great place to start. There is a huge need and actually doing it is not that difficult. Consider how your church might be able to make a difference in this area.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Autism and Sensory Overload

One of the things that many people with autism experience is sensory overload. There are too many sounds, sights and smells and it becomes overwhelming. This video was created to help people without autism to understand what people with autism often experience.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Preaching on Disabilities

I truly believe that the pastor needs to take the lead on helping a church to become disability-friendly. This can happen in many ways, but one is to preach on disabilities. There are a number of passages that deal with disabilities that would make for a good sermon.

Here are some suggestions:

Now Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son crippled in his feet He was five years old when the report of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame And his name was Mephibosheth. - 2 Samuel 4:4

You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. - Leviticus 19:14

'Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.' - Deuteronomy 27:18

"In that day," declares the LORD, "I will assemble the lame And gather the outcasts, Even those whom I have afflicted. "I will make the lame a remnant And the outcasts a strong nation, And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on and forever. - Micah 4:6-7

"Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In all the earth. - Zephaniah 3:19

Friday, October 14, 2016

Top Five Posts!

Top Five
I have enjoyed sharing information about autism and other disabilities on this blog. There have been certain posts that really seem to have connected with people. Here are the top five posts from this blog.

1. What to Do When You See an Autistic Child Having a Meltdown
2. What I Would Look For in an Autism-Friendly Church
3. 5 Things You Should Know About Autism Parents
4. What If Your Church Can't Start a Disability Ministry?
5. Autism Infographic

If you are looking for more, I blog from to time on autism on my personal blog.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Autism and Holiday Dinners

As I write this, it is the Canadian Thanksgiving. We were blessed to have extended family with us for a delicious turkey dinner. It was an enjoyable time. However, our children with autism did not join us for it.

We did have our children with autism visit this weekend (they live in a group home). They came yesterday and left this morning before the rest of the family arrived for dinner.

We could have had our children with us for the larger dinner. However, larger groups tend to stress them out and it generally makes things difficult. We had a much more pleasant pizza dinner with them last night with just my wife and I and our five children.

It is not that we are embarrassed of our autistic children that we feel pressured to separate these events. Forcing our two children into a stressful situation would not be fair to them.

Why do I share this?

Because most families take it for granted that they can gather for a holiday dinner. Most families have no idea that there is a segment of the population for which this is very difficult.

I share this not to complain. We actually had a nice Thanksgiving, including (especially?) the visit from our children. I share this to spread awareness. Now you know.

Stephen Bedard