Welcome to Just Juniors

In September of 2008, my 7th daughter Samara was born 9 weeks early. 4 weeks later, she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. My self-therapy in learning to fully embrace her diagnosis involved designing t-shirts that portrayed Down Syndrome in a positive light. It is from this that my business, designing disability awareness products, has grown.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What should the church be doing to reach the disabled?

Ok, it has been so long that I had to reset my password cos frankly I didn't have a clue what it was. But I am once again feeling frustrated, and this is my venting spot. It isn't really all I ever care about. But I am too lazy to write when I have nothing worth saying. And this is something that matters. And matters a lot.

We now live back in the city. Things are a lot different from what they were in a town of 7000. It is easy to get lost in a city of two million people. Easy to be forgotten. Not noticed. Anonymous. Sometimes that's a good thing. Other times, not so much.

But my disillusionment with churchianity has kept me away for a long time. I decided to try a new approach. A big church. A church with a heart for the community. And a place that might have more to offer a struggling teenage daughter. And overall, I must say, I am happy there. They have done what they can to help us in our current situation of having to move house, by firstly paying a packer, and then some meals. They have been very welcoming of Samara, trying to do what the can to make the Sunday school a place she can safely be a part of. They are even talking about making up communication cards for her. Great! So why am I here to vent, if we feel so welcome there?

I will tell you why. Because something is missing. In a church with Sunday school classes of up to 30 children per year level, there are only 2, yes, that's right, 2 children with obvious disabilities. And when I say that, I mean I was told that there was one other child with a disability in an older class. They have been so welcoming of Samara. So what's the problem? Statistically, there should be more people in that church with special needs. Why aren't they there? Where are they? If Christians are the major group fighting for the rights of unborn children, then one should be able to safely assume that their children aren't among the 98% of prenatally diagnosed children with DS who are slaughtered for their "sin" of being just who God made them to be. And one would assume that applies to the other conditions that can be diagnosed before birth too. So really, there should be more people with disabilities in our churches. But there isn't. And that bugs me. A lot. Because there is only one reason that makes any sense. And that is, that the church is not reaching out to them in the communities. And, there must also be an element of people leaving a church because they no longer feel that they fit in.

I have been doing a short course at church on Random Acts of Kindness. Now, this is run during the daytime, so there are a limited number of people who can attend. There are 8 groups being run, each in a different subject. I can't remember the topics off the top of my head, but they are topics such as the gift of prophecy, the lesser known women of the Bible, finding who you are, and your worth in Christ is the major gist of it. And there is a time for that. We need that grounding. BUT with each group having a maximum of (I think) 10 people, do you know how many chose random acts of Kindness? ONE. Me. That's it. Everyone else chose subjects that would in one way or another end up centering on their own value in Christ. Not through works, but by grace through the gifts He has given.

But Jesus always started by doing good things, not just preaching. He praised the humble simple works of others. He lived that life Himself. He hung around the lost, the "least of these". Not the Pharisees and the hoity toity of Jewish society. He very rarely preached. He simply lived. And his life was what gathered the people in. It was His actions that caused them to listen. And listen, they did. From that one Man (granted, he was God, but He lived as a man) the world was completely changed. And yet, for a Man on a mission, he didn't say an awful lot. But he did do a lot.

So why are the "least of these" no longer flocking to our churches? Why are they happier not having any part of these followers of Christ? Anyway, this week I tried to share my post on the Open Letter to the Church. I say tried, because I was stopped. We had an extra three people in our group besides me and the lady running it. I was told she knew where I was going with this, and is obviously had a lot of pent up anger because I felt the church was not meeting my needs. Yes, I do have a lot of pent up anger. But not because my needs are being met. Because those Jesus specifically spoke of - THEIR needs are not being met! But I was crying by this point. And that just "proved" that was the problem. But I was crying, because once again this extremely important topic was brushed aside. These people and their situation was once again out in the too hard basket.

She even went to some of the leaders in the church and told them I was saying the church wasn't meeting our needs, which put them on the defensive because they have gone out of the way to try and accommodate her. But they just would not get what I was saying. They did hit a raw spot by saying I was taking on too much and needed to look after me, and they are right there. But the need doesn't go away if I stop. No, I can't change the face of disability throughout Australia. But you know what? The church could. Not just our church. Every church. Imagine the change! An act of kindness directed towards the disabled community being something that every Christian strived to do. Something that just makes them feel valued in some way. It might be volunteering, or financially helping out, a visit in hospital, or just a kind word. It doesn't have to be any bigger than all the other missions the church runs for single mums, for the homeless, for the elderly. All great causes to be sure. But why is the disabled community not being reached out to? If we are to treat "the least of these" (which in no way means they are the least, but simply that society treats them as the least) as if we are entertaining angels, then quite frankly, being an angel must be a pretty scummy job.


One day, a man was walking along the beach, enjoying the morning sun and cool breeze from the ocean.Suddenly, far off in the distance, he saw what looked like someone dancing.  But as he drew closer, the man noticed that it was a little girl picking up starfish from the shore and tossing them back into the ocean.As he approached the girl, he paused for a moment, kind of puzzled, then asked, “Young lady – why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”And she replied…”Well, the sun is up, and the tide is going out. If I leave these starfish on the beach, the sun will dry them up and they will die.”And the man said “But there are thousands of starfish washed up all along this beach for miles! You can’t possibly make a difference!”The young girl thought for a moment, then slowly leaned over, and carefully picked up another starfish from the sand. And with the starfish in hand, she turned to the man and gently said “You may be right, but it’ll make a difference to this one!”And with that, she reached back and threw the starfish as far as she could back into the ocean.

With my charity www.facebook.com/ArohaAngels I am trying to do my part. That not most peoples calling. And that's ok. It isn't that God wants us all out there doing the same thing. Would kind of defeat the purpose. But each of us is capable of picking up even one starfish and saving it.

Every single child is precious is God’s sight!“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”  Psalm 72: 12-1

There is no excuse. If we are to be as Christ to this world, we have a responsibility to do as He would do. Your part may seem so small as to be insignificant. But no act of kindness is insignificant. Not to the one upon whom the kindness is bestowed.