One in four adults (26%) in the United States are disabled according to the CDC. That is over 61 million adults in the United States alone. One in five people worldwide lives with a disability. That makes well over one billion people. If you live long enough chances are you will experience disability in your lifetime due to aging. Or you could become disabled in an instant due to an illness, injury, trauma, or other circumstance.
The fact of the matter is this, disability is more of a when than it is an if!
For me, it has come in stages. My misophonia diagnosis that I can trace back to my earliest memories at times has been disabling. Most days I can cope with it and not allow it to interfere with my every activity. More recently, I found out that I have abnormal bone growth in my joints. This was revealed in an MRI after I dealt with chronic pain in my hips for over a year. The MRI revealed that the excess bone growth in and around my hips had shredded all my ligaments and caused significant bone-on-bone damage to the hip and the socket. At age 45 I was facing either two total hip replacements or opting for cutting edge surgery that would give me a good chance at healing and keeping my God-given hips.
I opted for the cutting-edge surgery and on August 11th, 2021 began an eight-month-long journey. After each of my surgeries, I am unable to walk for six weeks and require personal assistance with almost every aspect of daily living. In addition to my crutches in my home, I now have a wheelchair, shower chair, toilet safety rails, CPM (constant passive motion machine), polar ice machine, and a slew of prescriptions.
Two weeks post-surgery I left my house for only the second time for a doctor’s appointment. Being outside breathing the fresh air was glorious despite the pain I endured with every step of my crutches.
My familiarity with isolation, pain, dependence upon others, mental health strain have all been challenged in the early go of this journey. My compassion and passion for people living with disabilities and their caregivers has skyrocketed! It is one thing to be called by God to be an advocate for individuals with disabilities and their loved ones. It is a whole nothing thing to experience disability first hand and see how it affects everyone in your household.
God is already using this experience to mold me and make me more a more effective minister of the Gospel and for that I am thankful.
Now circling back to the reality that disability is more of a when than it is an if! I must lean into this fact and ask why don’t more people talk about disability? Why don’t more people champion the care for both those who are disabled and their caregivers? Why are people with disabilities always a second thought, if a thought at all?
The questions and answers to these and many more questions could fill many books in a library. All I can do is all I can do. And what I will do is continue to commit my life, my ministry, and all my effort towards bringing justice, inclusion, belonging, respite, and salvation through the Gospel message to the disability community worldwide.
I have got BIG plans! The Holy Spirit has downloaded some BIG ideas into me that are already in the works. Stay tuned to Ability Ministry for some BIG news coming soon. Trust me it is hard for me to keep some of these ideas under wraps. My disability will not slow down the plans of God it will only embolden them!
The question is what will you do now that you know disability is more of a when than it is an if!? Will you continue to ignore it until you smacked in the face with the reality of it personally? Or will you soften your heart and allow God to open your eyes to the world of disability that surrounds you? You don’t have to change the whole world to be a world-changer for just one person. It always starts with one. Can you show compassion and passion for just one person?
It is Ryan’s passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan’s commitment to life and ministry.