Thursday, February 14, 2008

Disabled Dumped By Police

Sometimes the news is more amazing than a fairy story! We expect villains to appear in Snow White (the wicked Queen) or Cinderella (the evil stepmother and her two daughters).

But we hardly imagine a story like the one currently on the news: "Quadriplegic Dumped By Police." It's also interesting that this story only came to light (even though there were at least four deputies present when the incident occurred) after the media ran a tape of the incident. That is also amazing! I don't think I'd be dumping a paralyzed man out of his wheelchair in a room where I knew the incident was being taped. Especially when the supposed reason was that the man was saying stuff that "was silly." Well, it so, it got more silly or worse before the incident was over.

It all started because 14-year quadriplegic Brian Sterner was cited for blocking an intersection in his mini-Cooper fitted with hand controls. Then he was taken to county jail for processing. Well, so far, it's pretty silly! Then, in full view of a camera, Sterner is dumped out of the wheelchair onto the floor and frisked. Amazing!

But this whole incident speaks to the difficulty the disabled have being assimilated into society - being accepted. They are different. They deal with many challenges, but many disabled people function incredibly well in overcoming their disabilities.

Recently I met a man named Frank. Frank lives in a wheelchair when he's not in bed. Frank has a terminal neurological disease. He cannot walk. He has great difficulty talking. He can hardly even scratch his nose if it itches because he has lost so much control and coordination. Frank needs help to do almost everything.

Inside Frank's broken body is a mind and a heart that function very well. Frank recently received a master's degree. Frank's body disguises the man inside who has a mind that works quite well, even better than most. But to discover Frank's mind and heart takes effort. It is hard to even understand his words.

There is a sense in which most people treat the disabled like Frank and Brian either actually or symbolically like those sheriff's deputies in Tampa treated Brian. We see the disabled as people to "dump." What a tragedy!

There are many disabled people who have a great deal to contribute in the world and in the church if you and I only take the time to get past the brokenness! That's one reason there's a new church forming in the South Hills of Pittsburgh - a Restoration Church. We want to intentionally tap into the disabled community both for ministry to them and for them to minister to us! In that process God is writing many restoration stories!

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