Monday, April 2, 2012

pondering awareness and action

Today's post is brought courtesy of my friend Dr. Beth Ackerman. She would not say this about herself, but what I would say about her is that she is a prophet of sorts.  She is calling on those who work in churches and private Christian schools to move beyond awareness toward ACTION.  Consider her words, as April is Autism Awareness Month and today, specifically, is World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism Awareness (Action?) Month
Awareness just doesn’t seem enough these days.  It doesn’t imply action. If you want to know about the rise of autism, how many families are affected, etc.  That is awareness.  As Christians, I’m more concerned about action.  We need an Autism Action month.  :)Here’s one of many stories in my life where God pushed me to action.  I was new to Liberty University and some students helped me start a Liberty Chapter of Council for Exceptional Children.  And we decided to have a carnival type event for children with disabilities and their families.  It was at this event where I’ll never forget a Mom who told me that she’s so thankful that she can watch church on TV because she can’t take her son with Autism to church.  I remember in my typical arrogance thinking and saying - “WHAT?!?!”…. She went on to tell me that their church didn’t know what to do with his grunting sounds, hand flapping and pacing.  And I looked at the sweet boy and his Mom and thought to myself again… “WHAT!?!?!”  Well, in one of my many life’s strange events… the director of Thomas Road Baptist Church called me THAT week and asked to speak with me about a partnership between our Liberty students and TRBC for families of children with disabilities to have support at church.  I could go on and on with the need for this - with 95 % of marriages ending in divorce when there is a child with a disability… what an amazing outreach for churches to wrap God’s love and care around these families. Where can you have action?   Perhaps it doesn’t need to be grand… perhaps it is finding a family of a child with a disability and offering to babysit so they can have a date night… or perhaps even smaller… when we see a child with a disability at a restaurant who is grunting and flapping their hands or acting in way we don’t understand… we don’t look at the parents irritated for bringing their kid out to dinner… knowing it is hard to find help for a child with a disability... this is where awareness leads to action.  What are we reflecting as Christians?  How are we ACTING as Christians?  I do pray it is more than awareness for us.   For more ideas or thoughts on this, please see my archived blogs on “THE Message”.Toy, the director of Children’s Ministry at TRBC, called her ministry for children with disabilities “ikids” – as these kids are “made in the Image of God”… now that is an awareness that should move us to action.

She also has a three part series that she calls "THE Message".  I encourage ANYONE working in church or para-church ministries to children and families and/or in private Christian institutions to read and consider.  

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Throughout the month of April, I plan to write more about Autism ... and how it changed me.  How it framed how I see people and how (I've come to understand) it fuels my passion for justice today.

For now, though, Dr. Ackerman has given us much to ponder...

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