Disabled but Valued

Disabled children at Camp Hope in Ecuador.
Disabled children at Camp Hope in Ecuador.

Earlier this month, evangelist Nick Vujicic announced the birth of his first child – a healthy baby boy.

Nothing especially newsworthy about an evangelist procreating. But the part that’s sure to raise eyebrows is that Nick Vujicic has no arms or legs!

To those who believe a handicapped life is a life not worth living, Nick’s testimony is a powerful rejoinder. One of the first times I saw him was while browsing the TV channels at a hotel in Uganda, Africa. All of a sudden, there was this ridiculously happy, energetic, charismatic, smiling little person delivering inspirational messages to packed stadiums and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not every child with a severe disability will grow up to find a spouse, a successful career and an international audience of cheering fans. Even so, Nick’s life and message force us to re-think our priorities of what is valuable, meaningful and worth fighting for. Of why life matters.

Not all the Nick Vujicics of the world have smiles on their faces. The boys and girls at Camp Hope orphanage in Ecuador, where Cross is helping provide for the daily needs of disabled youths, no doubt have bad days when the pain and the social stigma and the trials of physical therapy make them feel like quitting. What do we tell those kids?

Do we tell them “you’ll do better next time,” “someday you won’t need that wheelchair,” “you’re so much more independent than you used to be”? Maybe they need to hear those things, but maybe they also need to hear, “Right now, in your condition, with your warped limbs and damaged brain, you matter. You have value. We love you as you are. The image of God is branded on your soul.”

Someday God will restore creation. But I think it’s important to remember that eternal life begins today, in the shards of light refracted through broken human vessels; in the Son who joined his divinity to dirty, dying, fleshy, earthy things and walked among our mangled world.

-Tony M.

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