*This is the second of four articles in our Disability Concerns Canada Fall 2021. You can find the rest here: DC Canada Fall 2021 Newsletter
Connections! We all make them, often without realizing it. We make them in person, on the phone, on social media and digitally. Sometimes we make them intentionally; sometimes we make them purely by accident. Connections can be blessings or curses. Connections reflect community, which our Lord wants us to be in.
I have been connecting with a person that I want to write an article on for the newsletter. I want to spend some time in person with him before beginning my writing. However, both our schedules are such that it will have to wait for the next newsletter. But my connection with him dates back to my high school years. We both attended London District Christian High. In addition, my sister is married to his brother. So it will be like a reunion when we finally get together and do some reminiscing as well.
Most people are able to connect with others quite readily. Perhaps the one reason that may make all people reluctant to connect is if they need to ask for help. However, many persons with disabilities may find it very difficult to connect with others. There may be several reasons for that: they may be fiercely independent and asking for help may undermine that feeling; they may feel too self conscious/shy to reach out to someone else; they may have communication disabilities; for mental health reasons they may feel uncomfortable talking to others. I’m sure all churches have people like those described here among them.
So how do we make sure that persons with disabilities among us feel connected to the rest of us and part of our church community? Do we take the time to say more than “Hi” to them at church? Do we take the time to wait for their response? Do we seek them out and ask them how they are doing? Do we invite them over for a visit, or invite them to go along with us for any occasion? Do we listen to them carefully enough to detect needs that they may have that we (or someone we know) may be able to help them with? When looking for persons in the congregation to participate in worship or other group activities do we consider whether a person with disabilities among us could do that and/or would be willing to do that?
These are all ways that we use to connect with others, whether we are disabled or not. But when connecting with persons with disabilities it is necessary to be especially intentional and attentive. If the first time you attempt to connect with them, don’t be discouraged by being brushed off. It helps if you give off a warm air and can show them that you really care about them. It may take some time, but in most cases your persistence will pay off. The best part of all this is that you may acquire a forever friend and that person will definitely feel a part of your church community.
God bless you as you reach out and make connections.