650 million people on this planet have some form of disability. This group of people experience the greatest challenges with regards to housing, education, work and relationships. Only 5 -10% of them are evangelized, making them one of the biggest unreached people groups in the world.
The UN estimates that there are at least 60 million people with disabilities in Africa. They make up the highest proportion of Africa’s disadvantaged population. Only 2% have access to any form of rehabilitation. 1-2% of children with disabilities receive an education and 90% of children with mental disabilities will die before the age of five.
The vast majority of Africans with disabilities are excluded from schools, churches, and opportunities to work, as well as poverty reduction programs and HIV and AIDS information and services. As many as 80% of working age people with disabilities are unemployed. They make up 15-20% of the poorest communities. They live marginalized, in isolation and often have to beg as their sole means of survival.
Disabled adults and children are three times more likely to be victims of sexual violence and rape. Other factors, such as physical dependence, life in institutions, and lack of access to legal rights, also make them particularly vulnerable to infection and abuse (Joni and Friends International Disability Centre, Disability Ministry Training: Teaching Syllabus, Feb 2008, p.2.).
AE’s disAbility Connexion ministry seeks to meet the needs of this group and to introduce them to Christ. Recently they facilitated a mission to a community just outside of Pietermaritzburg. Barbara Watt, disAbility Connexion coordinator, tells us more:
The meeting started with AE staff member Sindiswa Matyobeni leading the group in worship, followed by the Foxfire youth team, who encouraged the group through dance and drama.
Inspiring talks were given by Mike Munro, Bongi Zuma and Patricia Naidoo, all disabled themselves. Pastor Mbu Hina gave a message of encouragement and Sindiswa shared a strong gospel message, inviting people to give their lives to Christ, which five people did!
These five precious people were given Zulu Bibles, the “Everyone wants answers” pamphlet and “Faith for Daily Living.” They will be connected with local pastors in their areas.
Patsy Naidoo, who is part of the disAbility Connexion team raised R2000 for food for the outreach and organized a meal of chicken curry, rice and salad. Her husband Marshall took a day’s leave to help with the transporting of food and people.
Organizing outreaches for disabled people has greater challenges than many realize. Venues with access for wheelchairs are, unfortunately, harder to find in South Africa than in other areas of the world. People with disabilities are often also stuck at home without any means of transport to meetings, and so transportation needs to be arranged. Despite this the team at disAbility Connexion has seen the Lord provide in many ways as He empowers us to serve the disabled community, in turn empowering them to live out the destinies that He has for them.
For more information on the ministry please contact Barbara on : +27 (0) 33 347 7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.