On July 14, 15, and 16, 2020, a global committee of Adventist Possibility Ministries, which focuses on ministering to those who live with disabilities, saw nearly 200 people participate in a meeting via Zoom. A completely unusual and unexpected number; almost a record.
Ted Wilson, president of the Adventist world church and one of the creators of the ministry, spoke to the group as the meeting began. He emphasized the great privilege that all those working in this ministry have in carrying out the mandate of Jesus (Matthew 25:35-44). It was Christ himself who, through his example, inspired Adventist Possibility Ministries, which serves many people throughout the world.
Wilson also thanked the global leader of this ministry, Pastor Larry Evans, and his collaborators, who are acting with great passion and intensity to make the church and the world aware of the needs and demands of people who live with disabilities.
Evans introduced the work, explaining that the ministry is called Possibility Ministries because everyone carries possibilities within them, including those who face additional physical and/or psychological challenges.
"After all," Evans stressed, "all of us experience some sort of mental, emotional, or spiritual challenge on a daily basis. No one is excluded.”
Evans concluded his introduction to the work by highlighting the strategy of this ministry, namely: "Awareness, acceptance, action.” The aim is to increase the church's awareness of the issues faced by those who live with disabilities, in an effort to create a climate of acceptance for all forms of diversity and to act accordingly, utilizing a series of programs and activities aimed at inclusion and sharing.
Evans also recalled a quote from Seventh-day Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White:
"I saw that it is in the providence of God that widows and orphans, the blind, the deaf, the lame, and persons afflicted in a variety of ways, have been placed in close Christian relationship to his church; it is to prove his people and develop their true character. Angels of God are watching to see how we treat these persons who need our sympathy, love, and disinterested benevolence. This is God's test of our character. If we have the true religion of the Bible, we shall feel that a debt of love, kindness, and interest is due to Christ in behalf of his brethren; and we can do no less than to show our gratitude for his immeasurable love to us while we were sinners unworthy of his grace, by having a deep interest and unselfish love for those who are our brethren, and who are less fortunate than ourselves” (Testimonies for the Church 3:511).
The participants then divided into working groups (Zoom “rooms”), according to the seven branches of Possibility Ministries: those who are blind, deaf, mental health & wellness, orphans & vulnerable children, caregivers, those who are living with physical disabilities, and bereavement of spousal loss. The working groups were led by their team leaders.
When the work of the seven groups was concluded, the participants gathered together again in a single Zoom “room” and the various team leaders gave a summary of the ideas and proposals born in their groups. The coordination work of the moment was managed by Pastor Corrado Cozzi, Inter-European Region (EUD) regional coordinator of the ministry.
As a group, they collected their thoughts and ideas, listed below:
· There is a need to organize more local meetings on these issues to make all church members aware of them.
· It is necessary that those whom this ministry is meant to serve give their testimonies in their local churches, so that understanding, sharing, and unity are created.
· We must act like Christ; our church must be a Christ-like church. Jesus was drawn toward the most vulnerable, and we must be, too.
· It is necessary that the structure of our churches be more welcoming and adapted to the needs of those who live with disabilities. We must carefully evaluate the needs of all.
· We need a paradigm shift from a program-oriented church to a people-oriented church.
On Wednesday, a management working group met to work out the various suggestions arising from the various breakouts. Each of them proposed a list of suggestions that a group of writers and readers then elaborated for a final reading in the plenary session.
The plenary session of Thursday, July 16, continued the work, specifying and deepening the ideas, proposals, and priority themes for the ministry. Evans concluded the meeting in this way:
"We are driven by our relationship with God. We are the voice of God's compassion!"
"We wrote a page in Adventist history,” comments Cozzi. “This is not the first time we have spoken about ministries for people living with disabilities, but this time we have spoken about it with greater attention, highlighting the dynamics of a vision: that of making the church more aware of its mission toward those to whom Jesus himself demonstrated concrete, practical spirituality, invisible to the eyes of pride but visible to the eyes of compassion, the same that Jesus felt. With the work carried out by the different task forces we have not invented the wheel, but we have once again determined the importance of making it work well, for the benefit of all."
Leaders and collaborators have promised to share the work done both at management level and in the local churches, globally. The new edition of the Church Manual will include the recommendation that each local church elects a coordinator of Adventist Possibility Ministries.
More about Adventist Possibility Ministries
Adventist Possibility Ministries (APM) is a life-changing ministry! It is sometimes referred to as “Special Needs Ministries.” The motto of this ministry states clearly an underlying principle on which its existence is based: “All are gifted, needed, and treasured!” APM is about caring and inclusivity. Included in APM are seven broad ministry categories: blind, deaf, mental health & wellness, orphans & vulnerable children, caregivers, those who are living with physical disabilities, and bereavement of spousal loss. The working groups were led by their team leaders.
This is a ministry about caring by promoting attitudes and practices of inclusivity. It is a personal work we believe Jesus would have prioritized. It is about helping individuals, regardless of physical, emotional, or mental limitations, discover their untapped possibilities.
Adventist Possibility Ministries is a grassroots movement with organizational advocacy by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
To learn more about Adventist Possibility Ministries, please visit their web page.
This article was originally published on the Inter-European Division’s news site