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ACNS - Disabled still excluded from church mission
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:06:28 -0800
ACNS 3216 | AUSTRALIA | 6 DECEMBER 2002
Disabled still excluded from church mission
by Amy Butler
[Southern Cross] There are over 650 million people living in the world with
a disability. And yet, according to Prabhu and Nancy Rayan who recently
visited Australia, the majority of them are not being reached by the gospel.
The Rayans, an Indian missionary couple, founded the International
Fellowship for the Handicapped 22 years ago in India and now oversee 35
programs throughout the developing world. "Because Hindus believe in
reincarnation, they perceive disability as being a result of sin in the
previous life, therefore creating a negative stigma around people with a
disability. As a result some families try to hide away anyone with a
disability - they can be totally isolated," the Rayans said.
However, the Rayans are also critical of the Christian attitude to people
with disabilities. "When the Christian missionaries came to India they set
up institutions for people with disabilities. They might have been able to
go to church but they were not involved. They were once again segregated
from the rest of the community," they said.
The Rayans say that condescending attitudes form the biggest barrier to
their equal participation in the body of Christ. Ministry to people with
disabilities must start with relationships, not charity. In all they do, the
Rayans point to the example of Jesus and his interactions with people with
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