IFES - International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. A global movement founded in 1947 to establish a witness to Christ on university campuses. There are now national affiliates of IFES in over 150 nations.
OMF International - originally founded by James Hudson Taylor in 1865 as the China Inland Mission. Now active in most countries on the Asia Pacific Rim.
The Lausanne Movement was founded by Billy Graham in 1974. John Stott was chief architect of its influential Lausanne Covenant, which shaped evangelicalism for the rest of the 20th century.
The Third Lausanne Congress was held in Cape Town in 2010. Issuing from that gathering came the Cape Town Commitment, of which Christopher J H Wright was chief architect. This incorporates the Cape Town Confession of Faith.
RSA - Royal Society of Arts.
Oxford DNB -The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is compiled and published by Oxford University Press. Its earliest beginnings were in 1885. Now under the Editorship of Sir David Cannadine.
By Joni Eareckson Tada
CEO and Founder of Joni and Friends’ Christian Institute on Disability
In 1989, I was asked to address the participants of Lausanne II, the International Congress on World Evangelizationin Manila. The subject of my message centred on the church’s responsibility to give the gospel to ‘the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind,’ and I was excited with the prospects of awakening the Lausanne gathering to Jesus’s mandate in Luke 14. I knew instinctively that the need was greatest among churches and people with disabilities in countries like the Philippines. Back then, I had travelled to only a handful of less-developed nations. The needs in the Philippines focused my mind. I had never seen so many maimed and injured people dragging themselves along the dirty sidewalks, wearing flip-flops on their hands. I managed to make friends with many of them living in makeshift lean-tos between our hotel and the conference centre.
Most were paraplegics; some were blind, and a few were amputees. But none of these dear people had ever seen anyone like me. When I extended a greeting to them, gesturing awkwardly with my limp hand, they seemed hesitant to touch me. They stared wide-eyed, few of them having ever seen a quadriplegic who had no use of legs or arms. When I spoke to them about my love for Jesus, they seemed fascinated. I could almost read the thoughts behind their amazed expressions, how can this lady trust God the way she is?!
The same thing happened at the Manila Pastors’ Conference, an additional Lausanne convocation for several hundred Filipino Christian leaders. I shared with them the same Luke 14 message. Observing my obvious limitations, they seemed especially curious about my faith in Christ. During lunch break in the main hall, many watched my husband Ken feed me a hamburger. Again, I felt curious eyes examining us, and I could almost read their thoughts: how wonderful that God has made her so happy amidst such a difficult disability! How does she do it?
I was experiencing first-hand the power behind 2 Corinthians 4:7,10, ‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.… We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.’ The more obvious the weakness in the messenger, the more beautifully-adorned is the gospel he shares! People with disabilities are the burning bushes spoken of in Exodus 3 – we cause curious onlookers, even skeptical ones, to turn aside and ‘see this strange sight, why the bush is not burned up’ (Exodus 3:3). People with disabilities, especially missionaries with disabilities, make people hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for the Living Water. They provoke the question is God truly powerful enough to sustain his joy in a quadriplegic? I must find out more!
This shows exactly why people ‘who seem to be weaker are indispensable in the Body of Christ’ as together we strive to make Jesus known to an unbelieving world (1 Corinthians 12:22). To the natural eye, people with disabilities seem to be weaker; they seem to be the least-likely candidates for Kingdom work. But to the spiritual eye – to those who value what God values – people with disabilities add depth, richness, and a platform for explosive power in Kingdom advancement.
To quote the editors of the book:
‘Herein lies the problem with the mission movement. We are inclined to assess our performance according to the standards of the secular world. This success-oriented approach can cause us to squeeze our potential missionaries into rigid molds in which they have to be intelligent, strong, agile, and have high energy: the Type A personality. This can mean that the mission movement selects only missionaries who have certain personality types, or alternatively it can tend to squeeze people who are different shapes into the same mold. When applying the world’s standards of success we therefore discount people who are different, who can’t be squashed into an ableist mold. Almost by definition, people with disability will not fit into an ableist mold, and nor should they. The stories you will read in the following pages are of missionaries who do not fit that mold.’
The book you hold in your hands is vitally important to the church and its mission movement. Its stories of people with impairments are the proof-text for 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. They are modern-day validations of the need for Christian workers on the field whose disabilities adorn the gospel. I appeal to leaders in agencies and denominations to consider what I believe to be a compelling case for selecting and training qualified people with disabilities for mission work. It is an idea whose time is long overdue – especially considering that our preeminent example is the apostle Paul himself!
So, enjoy the stories, consider the arguments, study the Scriptures, and start asking questions. Ask how you can enlist, and even exploit, people’s limitations for the glory of God on the mission field. Do you lead a mission agency, a denomination, or a church? Are you a wheelchair-user seeking to hold out the gospel in places where most say, ‘You can’t go there’? This book is your guide to taking next steps in inviting God’s all-surpassing power to explode through your mission or church outreach! Turn the next page, and let the adventure begin.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Lausanne Board Member
CEO/Joni and Friends International Disability Center