Presence to Participation: The Spirit is Not Disabled
Webinar 4 (Feb. 24, 2022): The Social and Spiritual Impact of Inclusive Design
In this short webinar, Mike Walker – a theologian and accessibility advocate who’s worked for North Park Theological Seminary, the Ontario College of Art and Design, and the Abilities Centre Durham, amongst others – will address the communal import of inclusive design for believers with disabilities. How can Christians with and without disabilities form healthy communities that really welcome everyone? How can we think critically about every aspect of communal life for Christians of varied capacities? Which aspects of church life need to be transformed, so that worshippers with disabilities can genuinely share their gifts with others?
Featured this week:
Mike Walker is a Canadian theologian and advocate for people with disabilities who has worked in Toronto, Chicago, and Ottawa. He’s currently a LEAD (Leading Equitable and Accessible Delivery) Facilitator for the Abilities Centre Durham, a Canadian accessibility-based non-profit. Mike loves reading, writing, working out, dancing, and playing games. He’s based in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city; if you’d like, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick Zelinsky, Director of Public Affairs for The Salvation Army
Rick is married to Deana and has 3 children who he had the privilege of marrying and is also a papa to the joy of his life. He is an advocate for people we serve in The Salvation Army, and in his appointments has developed a strong conviction for inclusion. As a church pastor and camp executive director he taught, and intentionally worked towards inclusion. In both of those appointments he saw growth in diversity including relationships with people of differing abilities who brought much joy into his life.
Please read Psalm 13
In the first devotional of this series, Psalm 8 reminded us that God is mindful of us. Each of us made in the image of God. This does not mean that life will be easy. We will experience pain and many unanswered questions. Yet the Bible reminds us that we can cry out to God in every situation. The Psalms of lament are examples of people crying out to God in times when they wonder where God is. The language is brutally honest. “How long, O Lord. Will you forget me forever?… How long must I have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:1,2) The Bible assures us that God hears the cries of our heart. The story of Glen is a present-day example of a man crying out to God, honestly, in faith, over difficult situations in his life.
My late wife and I adopted 2 children, a daughter and a son. My daughter is microcephalic. At age 2 a doctor told me that by age 6 or 7 I would have no choice but to institutionalize her. I would not accept that. So, trusting God, I started fighting for her needs and the needs of the rest of my family. At the same time my wife was becoming physically and mentally ill. My son left the church due to the fact that no one accepted him because he was gay. He got into drugs. Meanwhile I was trying to deal with all this while working 12 to 16 hour shifts at the hospital. I was really trying to see my daughter reach her potential. Then my biggest fear became my reality. My daughter was expecting a baby. I felt overwhelmed and did not know what to do. Doctors suggested abortion. I said no way. I started going to the Lake at night – my happy place. One night, fully overwhelmed, I sat at the edge of the Lake and yelled out to God that I couldn’t keep doing life like this – a challenged daughter, a very sick wife, a son with addictions and my work. I told God I needed to know He was still in control. I told God I can’t do all this – and a baby on the way. As I sat there, I suddenly felt the Holy Spirit coming over me. In that instance I felt and knew that God is in control. My daughter had her baby. My wife passed away. In the midst of the challenges and sadness and what I thought was my nightmare God gave me the biggest blessing in my life – my granddaughter. But to receive that blessing I had to be willing to be led by the Spirit, put my faith in action, and see the potential in my daughter. God is totally faithful to his word.
A similar conclusion is reached in Psalm 13. After crying out, “How long, O Lord” the psalmist declares again his faith. No matter the circumstances, “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13: 5,6) With bold faith we can cry out to God honestly in the most difficult times of our lives, assured that God hears us.