Lamar Hardwick has become known as the Autism Pastor and in his most recent book Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion, Lamar first shares his own story, both with coming into his diagnosis as well as his minority status as a Black man, and how that impacted his faith. He then transitions to how to move towards diversity within the Church and make an inclusion ministry
I’ve been challenged previously by Amy Simpson in her book Troubled Minds as her story as a child of someone with mental illness and how that impacted her interaction with the Church. Now we get to see from a first hand perspective of someone with a disability diagnosis and serving within the Church. Honestly, the stories are not much different even though they are many years and cultures apart: that they did not feel included and were an after thought.
Understanding Disability Is Ignored
There is no doubt that disability is ignored or an after thought in the Church. There tends to be little to no forethought on how to serve the disability within a church’s community, only coming up with a plan after a need has arisen and they are unable to meet the spiritual needs of a family.
This would show that diversity, not only with race, but one’s individual disability or even mental health is not being seen well within ministry. This unfortunately has the ability to create an emotional and spiritual divide for someone with a disability as well as their family from the rest of the church.
As I read this, the words of Jesus in his Beatitudes rang consistently through out the book. And if Jesus’ words are to bless them, then where is the Church now when people who are meek, hungry, or I’ll expand and say disabled, traumatized, or addicted when they need served. We should be doing as our Father does, and so we should be out serving them too, including our daily worship.
This is a must-read for Christians interested in welcoming, living with and serving alongside persons with disabilities. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.