Paul, writing to the Galatian church said:
…and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Galatians 4:14
Even though I read the Bible, I must admit I only spotted this a couple of weeks ago, but it had quite an impact.
It sums up a lot of what we want for those who have additional needs and disabilities – to be welcomed as though they were Jesus Himself.
In the Gospels, at the end of the parable of the sheep and goats Jesus says:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25:40
That speaks for itself really. These are just two Bible passages that show there is a Biblical imperative to care and to include.
I must admit that I don’t like to refer to those who have additional needs and disabilities as ‘the least’, but I do know what Jesus meant with that phrase – the ones who are looked down on, are not included, the poor, the vulnerable – the list could go on.
I’ve been fighting for best practice in inclusion since I was fourteen. I’ve been training churches on the subject for twenty-five years. And what the Additional Needs Alliance has achieved over the lasts few years has been a dream of mine for over thirty years. But I was just one person, without a large organisation or an infrastructure behind me.
Then few years ago I met Mark Arnold from Urban Saints – a man also passionate about change in the area of additional needs and disability. He was in the process of setting up ‘All Inclusive’. It was at this point my vision and passion for inclusion began to be realised. As a team – our joint vision blossomed and grew faster than either of us could have imagined.
Our very first forum, in a cold Eastbourne in February 2013 was a huge success, and we have never looked back. It was at that forum we launched the Facebook group . The group now has over 860 members and is growing daily
As the group grows, we feel the need to grow with it, so we have added new admins (Thanks Lynn and Beth), the dropbox link to resources, and via Urban Saints we now have ‘All Inclusive:2U’. Plus, we have this new venture – A website!
We are encouraged daily in the way the vision and passion for inclusion and more importantly, belonging has spread – there are now many more small pockets of excellence all over the country, a lot have been inspired and encouraged to do this by members of the Facebook group.
In a sense my initial vision from over 30 years ago has been realised in what has happened with the Additional needs Alliance so far, and I am thankful to God for His guidance and wisdom – but there is still so much to do!
Please join us in making sure all those with additional needs and disabilities, and their families, are welcomed as though they were Jesus Himself.
Posted by Kay Morgan-Gurr 24.01.17
A bit about Kay:
Kay is a Children’s Evangelist and Chair of the Children Matter coalition. She serves on the Evangelical Alliance Council, is an associate of Churches for All, and part of the Home for Good Council of reference.
Kay used to be a children’s nurse, specialising in the area of additional needs and disability. She is married to Steve & step mum to two wonderful grown up boys. She is a wheelchair user, but became disabled many years after starting to fight for those who have additional needs and disabilities. She says she “fights for others, not herself’.