A South Carolina man and his service dog was recently denied access by a church. My colleagues and I were shocked. As my friend, Steve wrote: “Every time I start to think that churches are finally starting to “get” the idea of welcoming kids and adults with disabilities, some elder board dreams up an absurd policy that convinces me I’m wrong.”
My service dog and I was too denied access to a church years ago, and the lessons I learned from the experience strengthen my faith and helped me understand how to approach this issue with churches. I have yet used these arguments with a church, but I think I’m on solid ground.
The excerpt below is from my book, In the Accessible Church (self published, 2013). I post this as a response to the church and to further educate the faith community.
Disability is not a brave struggle or ‘courage in the face of adversity.’ Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.”
I was surprised at how nice it was at the swim meet. It was not too loud or humid in the Air Force Academy’s Natatorium. I parked my chair near the starting blocks to watch some heats. After a while, the cheers got louder and louder as a race was finishing. I looked up at the giant tv screen and saw a participant making his way down the pool on his back. He seemed to be swimming a simple backstroke, something I might swim. Continue reading My Experience at the 2018 Warrior Games→
Was it today when you stepped into my house for the last time?
When you sat down in the rocking chair and asked how I was doing? I had my school assignment laid out on the table and asked you to help me look at two companies’ balance sheets to decide which one would be better to invest in. You hadn’t helped me with my homework since high school math, and it felt good to have you in that role again.
Was it today when you walked out of my house for the last time? I watched you drive off not knowing that it would be the last time I’d see you. What were you thinking about as you rounded the corner? Did you even know that it might be the last time we would talk?
Was it today when we said our goodbyes for the last time?
Well, it has been ten years since you helped me with that assignment and walked out of my house for the last time. It seems like that was a lifetime ago. I finished that degree and established a ministry. I fell in and out of love. I fell hard on my face only and found myself in a counselor’s office after a suicide attempt. Therapy helped me discover who I am and set me free to fall in love again with my life’s partner.
If you were here today, would you be proud of me? Would you love my wife as much as I do? Would you understand my choices for work, faith and relationship? What would you say to me if you sat down in that rocking chair today?
I’m not the same person who you said goodbye to that fateful day. Ten years has passed, and seasons have come and gone. The world just keeps turning. Life certainly has a way of throwing us for a loop sometimes, and the Lord gives and takes away. But one thing remains: your legacy and God’s faithfulness.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’m very opinionated with my politics. I’ve backed off a lot with my postings since Trump won the election, but my commitment to the conservative point of view hasn’t changed. (Actually I’m probably more of a classic liberal these days, but I won’t go there.) I’ve struggled writing this piece (I’ve been working on it on and off for a couple of months) and debating whether to post it to the blog. First, I don’t want my blog to be known for my political views. Second, this certain subject could be misunderstood in that I don’t want any government programs to help me. Put all the burden on the church. I’m not that stupid! As I say in the piece, maybe the Lord does help me through the government. I’m just asking what is the role for each organization.
I know I’ll get push back, maybe even called names. Pray for me that I can handle it! I’m just asking questions so the country and people living with disabilities can thrive in the years to come.
Mary Jane Ponten is a friend, mentor and second mother to me. She has taught me about life and ministry through the years. A couple of months ago, I asked Mary Jane to write out her hilarious story about how disability language changes through the years. Not only did I want it as a memory of her, I wanted to be able to share it whenever I got into discussions about disability language.
So here it is….Mary Jane’s own words about her Identity crisis.
Maybe I do this too often. I have this habit of looking back through the years and remember where I have been. I look at the calendar and remember where I was and what I was doing on a certain date and year. Continue reading Remembrances and Memorials→