Included and Valued
A Practical Theology of Disability
Our ignorance of the truth can wreak terrible havoc in people’s lives and in communities. Without a solid biblical understanding of disability, how can church leaders combat harmful attitudes and beliefs both within the church and the community to which they minister? Without a basic understanding of common disabilities, how can churches equip those with a disability and encourage greater inclusion in church and community life? This comprehensive guide to disability and the church will give theology students, pastors and church leaders the introduction they need to effectively minister in their churches and communities. Focused on the African context, but with lessons and information that are useful in many regions, this book is a valuable resource to help churches and practitioners grow in maturity and effectiveness.
It is my belief that this book will open more doors for people with disabilities to be included in various aspects in the church. I recommend this book to religious leaders and church members as it will change the mindset of the community towards persons with disabilities. According to the Bible, God created human beings in his image. Therefore, persons with disabilities are people created by God to serve him and not to be pitied and regarded as people to facilitate others to be blessed by God through their charity! Disability therefore should be looked upon as a human and development issue!
As is well known, religious leaders have the power to change people’s attitudes, so this book will facilitate the change of attitudes of the community towards persons with disabilities.
Co-founder and CEO, Josephat Torner Foundation
Advocate for persons with Albinism
This is a supremely practical book, which confronts so many of the myths which surround disability in all its forms. It is written by actual practitioners who have dedicated their lives to working with the disabled in their communities here on the continent of Africa. At its heart, this book is a clarion call for inclusivity, for all of us, of all faiths and backgrounds, to recognize the absolute humanity and divinity in each and every one of us. In the eyes and loving hands of God, we are all equal, regardless of our physical, cultural and ethnic attributes.
This book shines with a light of understanding and hope, dispelling the darkness of prejudice and exclusion. This is not a book to sit cleanly on a shelf, but rather is a guide which demands to travel with us, as we go out to our communities to conduct outreach on hot afternoons under the shade of a mango tree. This book should accompany us not just to the villages and small towns, but also to the great urban centres of Africa, where the disabled are too often lost in the melee of the city. Over time, the pages should become sullied with the dust of the land, bearing witness to the fact that it has been our companion along the way.
Friar Giannone Carmelo
Order of Friars Minor (OFM),
Province of St Francis in East Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius
Bridget Hathaway and Flavian Kishekwa have taken a huge effort to research one of the most neglected areas in African writings. The result is a very rich, informative and compelling argument for us to consider how African communities and families treat our sisters and brothers living with all kinds of disabilities. Their research is littered with people’s stories and anecdotes, local beliefs and practices, and how they impact everyday African life. The ecology of meanings in these pages integrates a robust engagement with challenging Bible texts and a wealth of theological scholarship.
Bridget and Flavian do not shy away from tackling difficult questions such as how we relate to the theme of suffering alongside our belief in an almighty God, and what it means to be human when one is disabled. This is a must-read resource for both academics and practitioners considering working with vulnerable people in an African context or anybody motivated by intellectual curiosity to understand issues surrounding disability in Africa. Read this book and learn from those who have lived and worked close to where it hurts.
Rev Paul Nzacahayo, PhD
Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, UK
Table of Contents
- List of Figures
- General Introduction
- Section I: Understanding Disability Is Important
- 1. Introduction to Disability
- 2. Physical Disability
- 3. Intellectual Impairment
- 4. Sensory Impairment
- 5. Other Types of Disability
- 6. Some African Attitudes and Beliefs about Disability
- 7. Points of View
- Section II: Disability and Theology: Completing the Body of Christ, the Church
- 8. What Is the Origin of Suffering and Disability?
- 9. Disability and Healing
- 10. God-Enabled: Meeting Some Bible Characters
- 11. What Does It Mean to Be Human?
- 12. One Body: Sharing Our Gifts
- Section III: Welcome to Our Inclusive Church!
- 13. Disability and Human Rights: Not Just a Secular Issue
- 14. Gender and Disability: Is There Equal Opportunity?
- 15. The Relationship between Poverty and Disability
- 16. Advocacy
- 17. Is Your Church a Disability-Inclusive Church?
- 18. Ideas for Becoming an Accessible and Inclusive Church for People with Disability: Physical Environment
- 19. Ideas for Becoming an Accessible and Inclusive Church for People with Disability: An Inclusive Service