More than one billion people, about fifteen percent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. These people form the world’s largest minority. And the church has a great opportunity to reach out. But how?
Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr. Larry Waters served as coeditor of the book Why, O God? that addresses this subject of suffering and disability. And Dr. Waters tells how the church can minister: “When many of us see a person with disabilities, our reaction is that he or she needs help. Some of us aid the disabled, from pushing a wheelchair to cutting their meat. We admire their great attitudes and point them out as examples of endurance. We tell them their pain will one day end and assure them of God’s love.” But, he asks, how many of us view the disabled as spiritual resources? Indeed, those needing help can also offer help to us all.
“How often do we think the disabled might have something to offer us—some insights gained from their pain? Those with serious disabilities are faced with the need to surrender constantly to God and His love. And that makes them valuable resources to the Body of Christ.”
— Dr. Larry Waters, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition
The Grace to Forgive
The testimony of Lacie Habekott (MA/CE, 2008) beautifully illustrates Dr. Waters’s words. Today Lacie ministers to U.S. Air Force cadets in Colorado Springs with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). But in her teens she endured multiple surgeries after a neighbor driving home from a bar struck her, amputating her right leg on impact. Her mother saved her life, but the next eighteen months involved so many surgeries that Lacie can hardly remember any details of that day-to-day experience.
One detail she remembers clearly, however. After Lacie came home from the hospital, that neighbor called to apologize. And she heard her mother tell him, “In light of all Christ has forgiven us, how can we not forgive you?”
Having her mom’s example of what it looked like to forgive, Lacie said, is “what set me on a course for accepting it. And in turn, with lots of time, I could see God’s grace to me. I would not trade being an amputee for anything. I think I would be a lot more selfish, more me-minded, without this picture of dependence every morning when I rise. I have a tangible picture of dependence. In order to walk, first thing, I have to put my leg on. His grace gave me that gift.” What a valuable resource for the body of Christ! Through her “weakness,” Lacie reminds us of our dependence and of Christ’s supernatural power to overcome bitterness and forgive.
In this Issue of Kindred Spirit
In this issue of Kindred Spirit we will hear from a number of these valuable resources, including their caretakers. They remind us that we are “earthen vessels.” That we need each other. That every member has a function in Christ’s body. Also in this issue we remember the life of our beloved Prof Hendricks (1924–2013), whose own battle with cancer left him without sight in one eye. One of the gifts Prof gave us was in modeling how to live out our days in bodies that groan as we await redemption.
As we consider the truth about our broken physical world, we do so in a context of hope, looking to “Thy kingdom come,” when the One with nail-scarred hands who cooked fish on a beach will make all things new.
About the Contributors
Dr. Bailey assumed the role of DTS Chancellor after serving for 19 years as the Seminary’s fifth President, and continues his role as Sr. Professor in the Bible Exposition department. In addition to his years at Dallas Theological Seminary, he has pastored various churches in Arizona and Texas. He was a seminar instructor for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries for twenty years and is in demand for Bible conferences and other preaching engagements all over the country and world. His overseas ministries have included Venezuela, Argentina, Hungary, and China. He is also a regular tour leader in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. His board service includes Bible Study Fellowship, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and Word of Life.