Connecting to the Disconnected

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In a world where even the sparest population has a connection to the internet, there are literally billions of people, who remain disconnected. Not technologically, but socially. Few see the disconnect of the disabled person and spirituality.

In the United States alone, 1 in 5 people fall into some category of being disabled. (disabilitystatistics.org)

Sensory disability (blindness or deafness)
Physical disability (movement impairment)
Mental disability (learning, remembering, concentrating)
Social disability (Autism/Aspergers)

Let that sink in. 1 in 5. 20% of the population of the United States are disabled. Can an on-line ministry bring people together? Let’s explore opportunities that may be next door, or down the street. Those who are shut-in due to one of the disabilities above. How do you minister to a person whose mind is sharp, but whose body does not function? Often we think of special needs. This caters primarily to children. But what about the adult who has suffered a traumatic brain injury or a devastating stroke, that has left them without the ability to communicate? The brain works. The body does not. We may look at someone, and say: “Oh! Special needs,” and lump them in with the children.

Parents with a severely autistic child. It might be just the 2 parents, and a child. Going out is impossible. Where are they going to find a baby sitter? Where are they going to go in public, where people don’t judge or make snide comments behind their back? Where can they go to be with God on their schedule? Their world is just home and work. No social contact with the outside. They need spiritual nourishment as well. Why can’t an on-line ministry serve the needs of this community?

Those of us on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum find social encounters to be awkward, un-inviting and painful. An on-line ministry allows us to be as connected to the world as we want, or to remain as anonymous as we need sometimes.

An on-line church experience is NOT the first thing the pops to mind. There is a disconnect between these people, and an on-line ministry. I am in a retirement village. Everyone here is over the age of 55. Some of the people I encounter are well into their 90‘s. Many can not get out of their home. Elderly and forgotten. How do you reach these people? Nothing will ever replace the care and compassion of the human element. We can minister to physical needs, but do we stop and consider the spiritual component? Why not connect them to an on-line community, where people can worship, meet and be spiritually infused 24/7/365?

On-line church allows people who are the most disconnected from society, to be part of a transforming life experience and enjoy the fellowship and simple joy of being connected to the rest of the world. Begin to point people in the direction of an on-line community of fellow believers.

There are many that are unable to be a part of a brick and mortar church. An on-line community awaits. All of us need to invest time in making a human and a spiritual connection to others, and begin to break the barriers of loneliness and spiritual isolation.

onlinechurch_fronts

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:25 NIV)

Ministry and the Disabled

I found this 15 minute video, from Dallas Theological Seminary to be a refreshing insight of Ministry and the Disabled.

This is precisely where I am.  But he left out one category:  social disability.  I struggle with Autism.

Ministry and the Disabled

Ministry and the Disabled (2007) (Summary of the Video)

I. Who are the disabled? (disabilitystatistics.org)

1. Sensory (Blindness, Deafness, Severe Vision or Hearing Loss)

2. Physical Disability (trouble moving by themselves)

3. Mental Disability. (Learning, Remembering, Concentrating)

4. Go outside the home

5. Employment

6. Self Care

Disabled over the age of 5, and NON-institutionalized. (In U.S.)

10 million
10 – 15 million
20 million

Over 20 million?

As of 2007, 41.3 million non-institutionalized and over the age of 5.

1 in 5 have a functional disability.

54 million in the U.S. (National Organization on Disability)

As age goes up, chances of disability go up.

Majority of disabled over 18.

Special needs. Special and needy but geared only to kids.

Disability viewed as abnormality, but is it?

Life between trees

Garden of Eden                              Heaven
Tree of Life            Fall of Man         Tree of Life
Gen 2:9                 Gen 3               Rev 22:22
(disability/abnormal)   disability/normal   disability/abnormal)

Rev 21: God wipes away tears, and no more suffering.

55 y.o. stroke victim. Can’t speak, but otherwise okay. Where do they put him? Special needs ministry for kids.

Less then 15% of churches have a disabled ministry.

53% have no church.

54 million people — 1/2 don’t attend church.

2 in 7 families have a disabled family member.

85% of marriages end in divorce when one disabled child present.

No public places. No baby sitter. No church support.

What do we do?

The role of online church ministry in the world today

As you saw from the previous video, about 20% of the population of the United States is disabled. Some mildly, some severely.

I have Aspergers Syndrome. A form of Autism. I do NOT read social information correctly. Body language and cues, are foreign to me. I stumble through social situations. Always uncomfortable. Always unsure, of what to do or say next.

Some parents of severely autistic children, find it hard to find a place to worship, simply because the church does not accommodate autism, or traumatic brain injury. How to you reach these folks for Christ, is they can not come to a brick and mortar place of worship?

The church instead, goes to them. 24/7/365 online church is streamed live via the internet. For me, it was God sent. I was too far away from my old church, and could not afford to travel that far. I tried to find a church close by, but while you can kick the tires on a car, they don’t like you kicking people in the congregation. Online church allows me to be as engaged in the discussion, or as anonymous as I need to be.

They are no expectations to meet. There are other Christians there to help guide you along the journey to pray for you. Chat Moderators from all over the world, allow services to be global in nature, and not just minister to one locality.

The world is now a global village. And to shun a person or pigeon hole them because of a physical or mental disability, is becoming less of a barrier. How do we reach these people?

One person at a time.

The ABC’s of Communication

A – Adjust your agenda. Make the time to minster to these people. Meet them where they are at. Home, lonely, often dejected. Each has a story that must be told, must he heard, and must be prayed for. Take the time to listen, and meet the needs of the individuals.

B — Build a bridge. Find something you both are genuinely interested in, and cross that bridge together. It could be movies, art, music, tv, books….anything. Find something you both have in common and both enjoy. This requires you to invest time in the life of another person.

C — Communicate the character of Christ. People do not need to see our mouth flapping, they need to see our life working. It means being as transparent and open and honest as possible.

As one author said:

“Tell me how much you pray for a person,
and I will tell you how much you have loved them.”

Brillat-Savarin

Wayno