International Ministries

Defective or Diverse? - August 2015

March 12, 2016 Journal
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American Baptist International Ministries
P.O. Box 851 · Valley Forge, PA 19482




Defective or Diverse?  ~  August 2015


Dear Friends,

“And the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Why is this man blind? Is it
because of his own sin or the sin of his parents?’”


In my Christian Education class at the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana, we talked about a theology of disabilities. What? Yes, everything is theological, because theology is how we see God and how we see the world. For centuries, people perceived disabilities as signs of God’s disfavor, as punishment for sin, as a curse. People without sight or the ability to walk or with epilepsy were shunned and feared.
Later, a medical model was established: disabilities are imperfections, diseases that should be healed. Doctors worked hard to “correct” the disability with medicine, therapy, surgery . . . The “handicapped” person was a patient in the hands of the expert. The goal was to “fix” this defective person. Had God messed up?
But more recently, a social model has developed in which the person with a disability is perceived not as a patient but as a citizen. The world is filled with people with diverse abilities and disabilities, and it is society that has the responsibility to provide access to basic services for everyone. It is the society that disables people. Every person should have the opportunity to make decisions to live as full a life as possible. We are all created in God’s image, each of us with limitations and potential. We are called to live in community and be responsible one to another.
At the University we share a vision for community that is inclusive and committed to justice and empowerment. Some 15% of the world population has a disability. Why do our congregations not reflect that percentage? I want to help pastors learn how to include people with disabilities in their congregation and their educational programs.  My students were energized to engage with and include in new ways people with disabilities.



Thank you for being a part of this ministry and this shared vision of a world in which “all God’s children have a place in the choir.”





Ruth Mooney


Our text for this class is Un camino compartido (A Shared Road) by my friend, Brenda Darke, a profound and practical guide for churches wanting to welcome people with disabilities.