Where’s the Church?

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.

The Problem

I wish I could find that logic paper I penned over twenty years ago. Actually it made a better editorial for the college newspaper than an academic tome. My logic professor found me in the journalism room at the end of the semester to give me back my paper.

“Your paper is very well written,” she said. “But it’s more of an ethics paper than a logic paper.”

I got an A on the paper but a D in the class.

At least I had good ethics. (My bachelors degree is in ethics, and I still don’t understand how that paper was an ethics paper.  But I’ll leave it for another day.)

What was the paper about and why do want to find it now?

At the time of its writing, I had only been out on my own for six months, but I was already faced with how to live on a tight budget. My income was less than $600 a month. My mother  pushed me to apply for food stamps and LEAP. I was offended at the suggestion.

I was not a lazy person who wanted a hand out. I wanted a hand up, not a hand out. (I think I wrote those exact words in my paper). Mom’s argument was that she and my father paid taxes and that entitled me to take advantage of the system. I didn’t really buy her argument, but I liked to eat, so I went on food stamps. I was on them until my father’s death when I went onto his social security and made too much money to receive the benefit.

I have always been a conservative. I believe that that the more local control the better. My augment back then was that churches should take care of people, not the federal government. This was before I knew a lot about Christianity, but even back then I understood the mission of the church was to take care of God’s people.

Whenever  I bring this up to people, I’m told that the church is too insufficient to solve this problem. Governmental systems are in place to help people like me, so be a good little soldier and take the crumbs that I can get. (Can I point out that governments hand out crumbs, but God gives in abundance? Maybe that’s none of my business.)

Why? You’re saying Millions upon millions of God’s people cannot do the job they are called to and that bureaucrats are better equipped to meet my needs. Faceless people sitting in cubicles are better than Jesus?

Can God take care of His people?

 

Instead, why not put our trust in the people of God?  Why don’t we put our trust in the Lord and let him take care not only people living with disabilities but also poor people, rich people and all people in between? Why don’t we let God be God?

I do get it. Maybe the Lord takes care of me through governmental programs. To see how this works, let’s take a look at my medical expenses that are paid through Medicare and Medicaid. Mine is easy compared to some people. I have a $40,000 wheelchair with all the expenses…new batteries, wheels, repairs. Let’s budget $2,500 a year.

Then I have a  baclofen pump that needs to be filled up two times a year. I don’t even know the cost. (I guess I can find out. That’s where they get you. You don’t even get to look the numbers, or more likely the numbers are buried beneath piles of paperwork. Is that my fault as the customer not to know the numbers or is it a part of the game?) Let’s say $3,000 a  year including the doctor appointment. I wonder if $10,000 a year is a fair number for my wheelchair and disability issues. (I’m not including my  prescription drugs in this discussion as they may or may not affect my disability, but I’m sure they paid for because I have my disability insurance.)

Can that $10,000 expense come from anywhere other than the government? (My conservative mind would say that the government doesn’t have money without taxing people. Then again, the country is borrowing money at an incredible rate, but it obviously doesn’t matter.)   It’s a question that I have no answer.

 

One of the arguments goes this way: “So I’m just going to take all my bills to my church, throw them on the table and ask for help paying them. Why, I would be embarrassed to do that to my church and friends.”

I completely understand those feelings.I have the same problem with paying for my wheelchair and other things related to my disability. It’s embarrassing to ask our friends for help.

However, don’t we do this anyway? Instead of taking our bills to people we know we take them to people we don’t know. And think about this. These same people are our fellow citizens! (Remember, my mom argues that she pays taxes, so that entitles me to this stuff.) So instead of dealing with our friends who are supposed to understand and care for us, we rather talk to a complete stranger who doesn’t care for us.

It gets worse. Let’s follow the money for a minute. The money that pays for my wheelchair comes from Medicaid. The money that pays for Medicaid comes from the government. The money that pays for the government comes from the taxpayer. And the taxpayer is us and our friends. See how backwards this is?

We have been conditioned (lied to?) to believe that the government has a big pot money. I believe that people, like my mom, who argue that they pay taxes so it’s okay if we take money from the government don’t want to see the problem. They personally don’t want to get involved, so they throw money at it and say it’s fixed even if it’s through a third party like the government. People don’t want to get their hands dirty.

For Such a Time as This

This is only a start and something’s I’ve been tinkling with for a long time now. There are holes in this piece, and I find something new that needs to be tightened each time I read it. But it’s a start. This is also could be the start of something as small as an article or two or as big like a book or a Masters thesis with a million footnotes , or it could be trash.

I believe I’m onto something. I also believe this has been something God put on my heart way back in 1995, when I first thought about these things and wrote my paper. All my biblical studies, schooling, mentoring with Mary Jane, and even my degree in Leadership and Ethics have led me to this.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14.)

Oh my! I just looked up this verse to end this essay with, and I’m speechless. The second half of this verse has been one of my go tos for years, but I had forgotten the first half and it’s context. Let us be reminded of the context of this verse.

The Jews were in trouble. People wanted to kill them. The king didn’t care. If the Jews die, they die. Here comes Esther on to the scene. She doesn’t want to be queen but her cousin, Mordecai, speaks the truth and reminded Esther that she has a purpose.

I have goosebumps.

Doesn’t it sounds like what’s happening today? Here we have socialized medicine dictating who lives and dies in England (Charlie Gardner), the State of Oregon taking away children from a woman who has a low IQ, and who knows what else. We have George Barnard Shaw in the early 1900s saying people need to provide their existence or they should die. And recently Iceland announced that they have eliminated people living with Down Syndrome from the country.

We live in Evil times. The lives of people living with disabilities are in danger.

Back to Esther. Let’s continue to take the verse a part phase by phase.

“For if you remain silent at this time…” Mordecai tells Esther that if she is quiet and doesn’t speak out, the Jews are dead. If I don’t speak out and write about people who have disabilities, who will?

“….relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place….” that Lord has this! Evil will run amok, but we will win in the end. God’s plans will not be broken. In the same way, it’s becoming a dangerous world for people living with disabilities. People will die, but God will be glorified in the end.

“But who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

We return to the famous part of the verse. After discovering the call God has on my life, I can be assured that this has been the plan all along.  I’m (and other friends with disabilities) living at this moment, in 2017, because God’s salvation plan involves my broken body. He is using it to bring people to him.

It doesn’t just end there. No, let’s not forget those two words in the middle: “Royal position.” What are they doing there? Well two biblical truths come to mind: a simple story from the Old Testament and a verse from the new.

First the story…the namesake of our ministry and when David made Mephibosheth a part of his family. How much more of a royal position can one have!

1 Peter 2:9 is the verse from the New Testament. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Same idea, just in a little different light. Notice that royal position is defined as royal priesthood. Other than that, everything is there: a calling/God chooses you and a task for you to do..declaring praises and being called.

Is this cool or what?

I end this piece with some questions about a prayer. These questions and issues come to mind that needs to be flushed out as we continue to discuss these issues:

  1. When and why did the church let go of its responsibility of taking care of people? I suspect that the church loss that control in the 30s when the New Deal came into being. It has gotten more complicated through the decades as SSI, food stamps, Medicaid (the list goes on and on) came on line. Did the church step back? Did government step forward and crushed the church? What is the role for both parties?
  2.  Is there a political ideology that is best suited for people living with disabilities to live under? To answer this, we must look at each ideology and decide if people living with disabilities can actually live under the system. The Big Lie by Dinesh D’Souza is a start of breaking this a part.
  3. Where is the world heading, and how do we stop it  dismissing people living with disabilities?

Like I said before, this has many parts to it and can’t be solved by one essay or even a book.  The little discussion I’ve had about this people have thrown up their hands in total despair. No one knows what to do. That’s okay. We raise throw open our hands up to heaven for help. Then we slowly put down our hands and bow down to the Lord and ask him for help.