People living with a form of disability are part of the largest minority group on earth. Overall, there are about 61 million Americans with disabilities, making up 26% of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, according to the Centers for Disease Control data from 2019. This group includes people with hearing, vision, cognitive, walking, self-care or independent living difficulties. Over half of Americans older than eighty are also in this group. Often, these individuals see themselves as others see them: they are a burden; or they rather be forgotten than to be given limited resources. This is a demonic lie that is heard in the West, and even more so in developing nations. The World Health Organization states that, an estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. This represents 16% of the world’s population, or 1 in 6 of us. Some persons with disabilities die up to twenty years earlier than those without disabilities.
Disability in Our Backyard?
Have you heard of the “Baby Boomer” generation? These are the 76 million people born between 1946 and 1965 who have reached or are reaching retirement age. In the US, it is estimated that 10,000 of them retire each day: that is 3,650,000 every year! Out of them all, 45% are already disabled. As they continue aging, 70% of them will become disabled and require accessible housing or nursing home care before they pass on. This is a huge social concern because, 70% of 3,650,000 people, is 2,550,000 disabled people each year for the next twenty years. That is over 50 million people! One thing that’s not fading away is how ambivalent the society at large treats the elderly, sick, and disabled. How are you affected by these facts? What is the role of the church? We must do more by the grace of God, and include the group of disabled people in all our programs.
Serving Pastoral Leaders with Disability
At iTEE Global, we extended our services to train pastoral leaders affected by disability. In our pursuit of multiplying disciple-makers across the nations, we are reaching out to students and facilitators with disabilities. Thankfully, for those with a cane or on wheelchair, they can use our virtual platform effectively. The challenge of accessibility is for the hearing or visual impaired. But with joy, each step moves us closer to our goal.
It would be a blessing for us, and certainly for the glory of God for 100 wheelchair-bound individuals to join us – pastoral leaders living with disability to be trained to become disciple makers. This pursuit is not because of pity. This people group needs discipleship and pastoral training. They will be able to participate in what God is doing around the world. The goal is to enroll them as students and train some as facilitators. Others may work behind the scenes through research, communications, administration and finance. A wonderful aspect of iTEE Global is accessibility. By using the internet, someone with a disability can virtually join us from any location. One of these students commented, “The Galatians course has been wonderful.”
Regardless of their disability, pastoral leaders are able to learn and become equipped efficiently to serve in the kingdom of God.