What Gifts?

This morning as we talked about stewardship of our time, talents, treasures, and truth, we detoured into a brief discussion of spiritual gifts….Someone asked what about the “gifts” of disabled/handicapped individuals …..Downs, autistic, cerebral palsy, etc…..What is their function in the Body of Christ? It was not a mean spirited question, simply a part of the conversation.  We talked about gifts of mercy, compassion, and understanding.  Many times we take things, including the blessing of physical or mental competence and independence, for granted until we are called to a higher level of sacrifice and love on behalf of those with such needs.  They often help call forth the greater good in humanity….the selfless agape love that lies dormant in many hearts.  Joni Eareckson Tada’s devotional today touches on this, too.

“Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene.”    Isaiah 59:15-16

I was at a loss for words when a young disabled girl in Bangalore, India told me, “My aunt said I would have to go through eight reincarnations before I could become a whole person.” A doctor from New Dehli said, “Most people do not consider autistic children to be human.” On that same trip while I was in Africa, I met mothers who were beaten because they gave birth to a child who was blind or disabled. A man told me his cerebral-palsied sister was left out in the jungle for the animals to take; “My parents thought it would appease the animist spirits,” he said.   In southeast Asia I met people who thought disabilities were “curses from the shamans in the village.” My heart broke when several disabled women told me they were “easy targets for abuse.”

Isaiah lamented, “Truth is nowhere to be found… There was no one to intervene.” This is the commission God has given us. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). When we follow His way and carry the truth into the dark corners of the world, we bring light, hope and deliverance. Jesus tells the truth about everything from the atonement to autism, from the resurrection to rickets, from sanctification to spina bifida.

The overwhelming needs of people in less-developed nations can either make you shake your head and walk away or fill your heart with Christ’s compassion. Support the work of your church’s missionaries who labor among the world’s neediest. Ask God to raise up those who will intervene and bring justice, mercy and the hope of Christ’s love.

Empower and resource Your missionaries around the world, dear Lord. For the sake of truth, mercy and justice. For the sake of the world’s neediest.”    (Joni Eareckson Tada-  a powerful example and proponent of those who are disabled in one way or another!)