It’s been said that there are only two certainties in life: we’re going to die and we’re going to pay taxes. I disagree. Change is also a certainty. God’s love for every human being on the planet is a certainty. God has compassion on those who are poor, oppressed, vulnerable. He calls upon believers to treat widows and orphans with mercy and kindness, and not to take advantage of their vulnerability.
Jesus demonstrated compassion for those with disabilities during His earthly ministry. He healed countless people of many diseases and disabling conditions. No one was turned away. There is a special place in God’s heart for people with disabilities.
I’ve been involved in disability work for nearly 40 years. Sometimes I become cynical and frustrated because the problems that existed 40 years ago are still with us: not enough qualified workers, perpetually low pay, ever increasing regulations. As Solomon observed, ~~there is nothing new under the sun.
A large part of the reason for these continuing problems is that, on the whole, society does not truly value those with disabilities. The average person has little to no awareness of those with disabilities, their families and those who provide essential care. Consequently, year after year, decade upon decade, this group is expected to be content with the crumbs that fall from the table.
For perspective, let’s consider the cost of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. Advertisers are expected to pay 6.5 million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime during the broadcast. That amounts to 13 million dollars if you want 60 seconds of airtime. The annual operating budget for Lighthouse is around 3 million dollars. So, a 60-second ad on the Super Bowl generates enough money to run Lighthouse for 4 years with a little change left over. Take a moment to think about what that says about our priorities as a society.
Meanwhile, we constantly hear of:
service providers closing
group homes consolidating people into larger households due to staff shortages
managers covering shifts
staff routinely working 80 hours a week
These issues are ongoing because we are not a demographic with expensive lobbyists which can influence elections. Folks are doing all they can to provide the necessary care and support and do not have the energy to constantly remind lawmakers, government officials, and dare I say, the church, of what should be an obvious, chronic need.
But there is hope. Jesus remains compassionate and He calls people who love Him to share that love with people who are vulnerable~who have no voice. Pray for workers and pray that services will be funded sufficiently so that 1) existing providers can continue to fulfill their mission, and 2) that people who are waiting for services have opportunities to be served.
Brian French ~~Director of Programs