Guest Post by Jean Kingery
Imagine two stems of red roses, but the buds aren’t yet fully developed. There is compact growth in these buds even though you cannot see the natural process. Flowering roses have a delicious scent, radiant color, and breath-taking beauty. But the truth is that sometimes these buds never open into full, blooming, fragrant flowers.
Let’s pretend that the unopened buds are people affected by disabilities. Their blooms are folded, hiding their beauty. Please bear with me as we unpack a foundational biblical truth.
The Great Commission is given to the disciples by the resurrected Jesus. On a mountain in Galilee, Jesus calls on his followers to make disciples of all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Great Commission has become a core tenet of Christian theology, empowering ministry, missionary work, evangelism, and baptism.
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
Many people raise questions about those affected by disabling conditions. “Should we reach out to those who are non-verbal or have cognitive deficiencies?” “How can ‘they’ respond to Christ’s call to salvation when they don’t have the ability to understand?”
We need to be very careful in our thoughts and comments regarding “these” people lest we forget Jesus’ words, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NLT).
In the following chapter, Jesus repeats, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14 NLT).
And again, Dr. Luke records: “But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God’” (18:16 NLT).
Jesus was reaching out to a segment of society that was thought by many people to be insignificant. Children, in their weakness and vulnerability, have much to teach us as adults—as do people affected by disability. God has a purpose for all his children.
It is our responsibility as Christ followers to make disciples. Regardless of ability, everyone has a soul, needs salvation, and can be taught the gospel. We can live out the Great Commission given to all believers and make the gospel feel uncomplicated and accessible. When we do this, developing new friendships opens fellowship, accountability, worship, prayer, giving and service. NOW the buds are opening with magnificent blossoms… fragrant with the essence of Christ’s perfect love.
“So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 28:19 (ERV)
Take a minute (or more!) and reflect:
Am I investing my life into “all people” for Kingdom expansion?
The goal of Jean’s recent book The Crimson Thread Through Disability: God’s Heart and Your Part is to globally train pastors and church leaders to embrace disability ministry, multiplying the Luke 14 model. The Crimson Thread Through Disability: Reflections is a companion devotional.
Jean Kingery has a background as a college professor, entrepreneur, corporate trainer, missionary, and international church planter. Her most exciting assignment (so far) was becoming the co-founder of proVISION ASIA with her husband, Dr. Chip Kingery. They served in south India for three decades empowering and uplifting individuals affected by disability.
Jean is the author of The Crimson Thread Through Disability book series. She is on staff with Global Training Network and a credentialed pastor with the Western Region Missionary Church. She loves travelling, reading and embracing diversity of all cultures.
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