I’m learning that a key to disability ministry is to develop an eye for those unseen and to notice people and circumstances that are often ignored. Ministry is not always so much about minutes or clearly defined activities, but a lifestyle and openness for ministry to happen anywhere. If you want to be “productive,” speed does matter—the slower the better!
Slowing down at work…
I was thankful for someone who helped me slow down one day at work. I was walking determinately towards the office when a special education teacher stepped out of her room and said, “Jenny, you look like you’re on a mission. If you have a minute, could you come in here? There are some people I’d like you to meet.”
Her students were having a party where moms and dads were invited in for lunch. I was so grateful to have been pulled out of my rush to meet the beautiful people who love and support our students so well.
Asking God for help while shopping…
Another time I found myself skeptically praying that “God would partner with me” as I walked into the grocery store, hoping He would help see someone with a disability that I could serve. I found myself slowing down as I walked through the frozen food section, realizing that the woman in front of me was supported by a walker. Later, I witnessed her standing in the check-out line, talking to the cashier about an unused coupon.
“Ma’am, did you want to get this cheese today? It’s on sale, but I don’t see it in your cart.”
“Oh,” she sighed, “That’s too far for me to walk.”
Suddenly, I felt as if God tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “You’re on!”
“I’ll get your cheese!” I happily volunteered. I returned moments later with a brick of Colby Jack and smile.
Looking for others who are unseen in church…
I came to church early one morning to have some coffee before the service started. Cup in hand, I started looking around the room. It seemed that everyone was standing in circles talking. I could have joined, but standing while holding a hot beverage is taxing, so I walked over to a row of empty chairs in the middle of the room and had a seat—alone. Much to my chagrin, I began to feel sorry for myself!
“God,” I prayed, “This isn’t what I want right now. Is there someone You would have me see this morning that I wouldn’t normally notice because I am sitting here?” I took a sip of my coffee and began to survey the room. I noticed a teenager I had met a few years ago but hadn’t seen in a while.
“Come sit over here!” I motioned. She smiled and sat next to me. She shared about her life in high school, her plans during Christmas break, and then mentioned her participation in adaptive athletics. I never knew she had a disability. I was suddenly glad I was sitting down, and even more grateful for this moment of candid sharing. It could have easily been missed.
Ask God for help.
Look for others who are often go unnoticed.