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24 April marks the Sabbath dedicated to Adventist Possibility Ministries

Jesus Christ had a special concern for people with special needs.

24 April marks the Sabbath dedicated to Adventist Possibility Ministries

Bern, Switzerland.Andreas Mazza, EUDnews.

Over one billion people, about 15% of the world's population, live with some form of disability. At least one-fifth of these, some 110-190 million individuals, face "very significant" difficulties in their daily lives. Moreover, disability rates are increasing due to an ageing population and a global increase in chronic diseases.  This is the picture taken by the first World Disability Report, prepared by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.

Among the problems most in evidence: in first place is discrimination together with the lack of healthcare and rehabilitation, followed by architectural barriers: inaccessible public transport, buildings and information technology.

The consequences of these difficulties that accompany the lives of disabled people are generally poorer health than the average, poorer training and professional opportunities, poverty and a lower level of education, precisely because of the difficulty of accessing higher education.

Jesus and disabilities

The greatest number of miracle stories described in the New Testament relate to illness or disability. The gospels in each episode emphasize different ways in which Jesus would have performed the miracle; sometimes he would have cured people simply by saying a few words or laying his hands on them, sometimes by employing elaborate rituals and using various means (e.g. spit or mud).

Jesus' compassion

"And Jesus had compassion on them" is an expression we often find in the Gospels. Jesus' gaze goes to grasp the weariness, the loss, the toil of living, the anguish and the suffering of the underprivileged. And he is moved. Because for him, looking and loving are the same thing.

For Jesus, "the last shall be first", that is, the people with the most difficulty and suffering will be the first to enter the kingdom of heaven. Compassion and care for the weakest is what makes us better people - what ultimately defines a civilization. The 'divine civilization' is based precisely on love, compassion and care for the most disadvantaged, weak and needy.

Adventists and disabilities

Best-selling author and co-founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Ellen G. White, writes: “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.”—Testimonies for the Church 3:511.

In order to meet this mission for the underprivileged, the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has established Adventist Possibility Ministries (APM). This is a ministry about caring by promoting attitudes and practices of inclusiveness. It is about helping individuals, regardless of physical, emotional, or mental limitations, discover their untapped “possibilities.”

“The Church is not only known by what it says, but also by what it does. Therefore, this ministry exists to coordinate and promote acceptance, support, and inclusion of people who have special needs and those who care for them”, so Larry R. Evans, global responsible for the APM Ministries. “This global ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church encompasses ministry for and with those with different abilities such as the Deaf, blind, orphans, and those with mental health and mobility challenges. It also seeks to provide support for caregivers of those with special needs. At the heart of this ministry is the conviction that all have something to contribute and by contributing they have entered the journey toward wholeness”, concluded Evans.

Corrado Cozzi, APM responsible for the Inter-European Region, added: “"This year the emphasis we want to put on this special day is on the family of those who experience a 'very significant' disability. The family is, in many cases, the only support for those who need secure support in every sense.

The family of the person with a disability becomes a team where everyone has their part to play and everyone rejoices in everyone's presence. This is not an obvious attitude, and it is not for all families like this, unfortunately.

Personally, I have lived this experience and I can thank my parents who were able not only to help us not to see the differences but above all to focus on the synergies. And even today, many years later, a solid bond unites us that makes us feel united. This is one of the messages we would like to give through the material we have made available to animate this day."

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