1. To be reminded that sin and suffering are in the world.
When I was forced to start thinking about disability back in 2001, it was not long until I realized that all of us are disabled. That is what sin does. Being around my family and friends living with disability reminds me of the New Jerusalem and the day when all suffering will end. Events like this make me spiritually sober again.
2. To connect with a few choice brothers.
There are some brothers who will be at this conference that I long to fellowship with. They are men who think Godward thoughts about disability and who have similar ideas about how to build the church so that she becomes a place where disability is embraced, not rejected. I have no idea where these conversations will go, but I cannot help but be very hopeful the Lord will use our time together to do some good things for the church at large.
3. To learn how to love my son better.
I need teaching. Disability is a part of our lives 24/7 and there are brothers and sisters that know so much more than I do and love so much better than I do that I simply need to be around them. I need to know how to live out the Gospel more effectively under my own roof.
4. To learn how to make our church a safer refuge for the disabled.
I think we have done a lot of good things as a church to embrace those who are different from us, but I am certain there is much more to do. We are still a relatively young church and there are a thousand ways we need to mature. This is one of them. I am praying that the preaching and fellowship around the conference will fill my small brain with a million good ideas.
5. To be encouraged.
I love my disabled friends. Our journey into the world of special needs has taught us that there is often more honest joy and laughter here than in the all the air-brushed fancies of the “normal” world. God’s surprising grace is found when my Down Syndrome friend tackles me in a joyful hug or when my Williams Syndrome friend uses big words to warmly greet me. Joy surges in my heart when I watch the young couple lovingly hold and smile and talk to their severely affected, non-communicative daughter – knowing she will likely die soon from her disabilities. The Gospel draws into greater focus when I observe happy, humble, loving couples who have faced the daunting task of raising a person who requires massive investments of time and attention. I could go on.
It may be too late for you to join us at the conference, but here is the information.
November 8, 2012 in Minneapolis, MN.
Bethlehem Baptist Church (North Campus)
5151 Program Avenue
Mounds View, MN 55112
Here is a partial schedule of the day:
7:15 AM Check-In, Registration, Bookstore and Exhibits Open
8:30 - 9:30 John Piper - When Jesus Meets Disability: How A Christian Hedonist Handles Deep Disappointment
10:15 - 11:15 Speaker Panel with Guthrie, Lucas, Talbot and Piper
2:45 - 3:45 Mark Talbot - Longing for Wholeness: Chronic Suffering and Christian Hope
4:00 - 5:00 Greg Lucas - Parenting When Your Heart is Continually Crushed
At 5:30 PM, the Bethlehem Baptist Church Disability Ministry will host an evening of conversation and prayer that all are welcome to attend.