“The B-I-B-L-E. Yes that’s the Book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God. The B-I-B-L-E. Bible!” In our children’s music time at church, we often sing this song about how the Bible is the foundation for our lives.
David Anderson also makes the Word of God the foundation for his book, REACHING OUT AND BRINGING IN: Ministry to and with Persons with Disabilities. This book encourages followers of Jesus to intentionally include individuals and families who are affected by disabilities in our faith communities.
Anderson focuses on several key statements that have significant scriptural support: all people are created in God’s image; people are not the judge of who can belong to God’s Kingdom; Jesus set an example for His disciples by reaching out to all people especially those who were marginalized by society; God desires that all people receive His love and grace; and God has given gifts that all people can offer to the Body of Christ. With numerous valid resource references and even more Biblical references, Anderson convincingly makes his point that God has called the Church to reach out to all people, which includes those who are affected by disability.
Those who follow Jesus strive for these inclusive communities of faith because Christ’s example has transformed our hearts and minds to recognize and celebrate the valuable opportunities that arise from diverse gifts and needs coming together. Anderson’s goal for this book is direct and succinct, but he illustrates this vital calling for the Church in different ways with each short, easy-to-read chapter. At the end of every chapter, he provides several strong questions that encourage church leaders and members to explore deeper within their own context of ministry. At the end of the book, he also includes twelve in-depth Bible studies that affirm ministries that include people affected by disabilities. The final pages show Biblical support for specific action steps that congregations can take to begin journeys into inclusive ministries.
Church leaders and entire congregations can use this book as an essential guide for starting or continuing crucial conversations about ministering to all people, especially individuals and families affected by disabilities. After reading and studying the pages of this book and the Biblical texts, I am confident that more churches will realize that God has called His followers to the challenging work and rewarding blessings of loving all people, sharing the Gospel message with all people, making disciples of all people and celebrating the gifts of all people. Our faith communities will be enriched when we seriously respond by accepting God’s calling that Anderson meaningfully emphasizes in this book. I highly recommend this relevant resource to every church that has any desire of forming a faith community that truly looks like God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Purchase the book from the publisher.
Reviewer Tamara Gill is co-pastor at Wayland (Iowa) Mennonite Church and a care worker at Sunny Brook Assisted Living in Mt. Pleasant, IA. She enjoys ministering to and with persons affected by disability in her church, community, and Joni and Friends Family Retreats.