A Middle Eastern Response to the Kingdom of God and Disability

We give all the glory to God for the way He blesses His work all over the world.

I am moved by the article and fully agree with Steve that our dear friends who are looked at by many cultures as secondary citizens or as a shame to one’s family, are the very ones that the Master invites to His supper and would have them sit at the head of the table, giving them the highest honor.

The Middle East – North Africa region faces challenges in dealing with disability issues in all its aspects, ranging from genetic or conflict-related disabilities to HIV/AIDS, employment issues, education, public access and social inclusion.  While extreme poverty is not as widespread (about 2.1% of the region’s population compared to 23.4% of the world’s population falling below $1 a day in 1998 using the international poverty line of $1 a day per capita), people with disabilities in this region still face obstacles to being included in society. 

Born, raised and living in the Middle East, I am aware of the fact that children born with disabilities face various societal barriers.  Sometimes, they are hidden by parents who are ashamed that their child is not ordinary so that neighbors don’t even know that these children are part of one’s family.  The time has come that every family with a disabled youth or adult should be able to embrace them not only as full members of the family, but also be proud of them, too.

Last year during the visit of the team that came with Joni and Friends’ Wheels for the World distribution, a man carried his child with disability to our site to receive a custom-fitted wheelchair.   This father told me that one of the joys of his life is to see this child come to him every night before going to bed to give him a hug.  His son then goes to bed with a big smile.  He told me that this unique child makes his life more meaningful and certainly happier.

Today in the Middle East, especially with all the wars and conflicts, we see thousands of people who became disabled as a result of injury.  The need around us is immense. Our goal is to look for and visit as many people with disabilities as the Lord directs us, and as we find them, to demonstrate His love by offering real acceptance, help and hope.  If this is not a part of our compassion work, then our life and message will continue to be dry. (Isaiah 58:10-11)  Our prayer and concern is that God will help us to reach out to all, including people and families dealing with afflictions, seeing them through Jesus’ eyes. Seeing as He sees, the world will certainly look different.  As our Lord and Master treated all people alike, we want to continue following His footsteps in that respect.

This article was written by a Joni and Friends partner in the MENA region. 


Links and Resources

To find out more about disability ministry or to get involved, visit the Joni and Friends website.

The Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends aggressively promotes life, human dignity and the value of all individuals – despite their disabling condition–from a biblical perspective through the Beyond Suffering course.

Joni and Friends is equipping people affected by disability in countries around the world to utilize their gifts and talents in their communities through in-country training and culturally-sensitive materials. Around the world over 650 million people are affected by disability and many of their families live in poverty, pain, and despair. Joni and Friends is committed to opening new doors of evangelism internationally.