By Rev. Allison Parvin
|Dr. Scott Crawford, lay delegate and disability rights activist, prepares for the beginning of the Laity Executive Session at the 2015 Annual Conference session.
Here in the south, your worth seems to be given to you by what you can offer society. People with certain kinds of jobs have more worth than people with other kinds of jobs. The world ascribes all kinds of values to people based on what they do, where they went to school, if and who they marry, how much power and prestige and privilege you possess.
But Jesus came to be the body of Christ redeemed for the world. And that meant that none of those things mattered. People mattered.
Before going into the ministry, I taught students with profound intellectual disabilities who were medically fragile. By society's standards these children had no value, but by Jesus' standards, these children were priceless because they are made in the image of God.
One day, a parent called me and asked me to tell her son that his dad had died and gone to heaven. I got down on the mat with Dimitri and held him close and told him that his dad passed away. He won't live at your house with you anymore; he is living with Jesus in heaven. A tear ran down his face. When I got up, I noticed all the other kids had their heads turned towards Dimitri and had tears running down their faces...the world said these kids had no value and yet, what they showed Dimitri that day was priceless. They showed compassion for Dimitri.
Compassion is what Jesus says matters on that day we stand before him in heaven.
My students showed me how valuable they were, not because of anything they could do, but because they were created in the image of God. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me that I was also created in the image of God. God called me into the ministry when I was a teen, but that call wasn't recognized probably because I was a young girl. God showed me through those kids that it doesn't matter what society thinks of you, what God thinks about you is what is important and to be faithful to God's call on your life.
God loved us enough to become one of us in Jesus Christ to save us, but also because this life matters-how we treat each other matters. We follow a Savior who sees everyone as valuable and makes room for everyone in His body. How do we make room for everyone in our churches? How do we let everyone know that they are precious in God's sight?
If you'd like help making sure your church welcomes all people, especially those who are differently abled, contact Rev. Eric Pridmore with the Mississippi Conference Disability Ministry Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 601-278-3758.