Only a few months ago the very mention of UFOs and aliens was laughed off as crazy talk or born from conspiracy theories. However, on June 25, 2021, the government of the United States released a report confirming that UFOs are real. What they stopped short of doing was confirming where these UFOs came from or if they were piloted by aliens. That being said, the idea of UFOs seems far less like a sci-fi fantasy story and much more of a reality now.
Imagine the scene on a Sunday morning at your church. Everyone is rolling into the church in a procession of cars. Some cars have been there for thirty minutes or so. These are either the dedicated volunteers or the crowd of people who want to get their seats early, sip on some free church coffee, and dish the latest gossip.
As the procession slows to almost a stop and the band starts rocking church is officially underway. Of course, there are those people who are always fashionably late joined by those younger parents who struggled to get the kiddos dressed, diapered, fed, and out the door on any given Sunday morning.
Then the unthinkable happens!
A UFO drops out of the sky directly above the church parking lot. It goes largely unnoticed because it is late and the church service has already started. Because of the size of the spacecraft, it settles down in the lone handicap spot near the front of the church building. The hatch of the UFO opens with a puff of steam as the ramp jettisons out. The exterior lights of the UFO power down.
Out of the UFO rolling down the ramp comes a mysterious-looking creature. No one in the church had ever seen this type of alien before. It was unique from all others in creation, splendid, and unmatched in beauty.
Still remarkedly this UFO and the alien it produced was largely unnoticed by most churchgoers that morning.
The door greeters had long since left their posts so the alien struggled to get in the front doors. Once it finally did a few of the other church-going stragglers stared at the alien. The alien was trying to process the reaction of these stragglers. It was having trouble computing whether the reaction was either disgust or fear. The alien thought this because of how quickly the stragglers would look away after attempting to steal a quick glance at it. Some of the stragglers even changed course quickly after making first contact with their eyes. The alien was confused because it had come in peace.
Then it happened… It was a close encounter of the fifth kind. There was a moment of contact from a human to this alien.
The brave human stepped forward and confronted the alien being. The human, churchgoer, said the following, “I’m sorry but we just don’t know how to interact with you. We are going to have to ask you to leave. There is a big church not far down the road that might be able to help you and is more accepting of your kind.”
The alien was met with shock, disbelief, and hurt feelings because it didn’t view itself as so different than the humans at this church. Regardless, the alien didn’t want to make a scene so it turned around and promptly left the church building. It boarded the UFO and decided against heading to the big church down the road because it feared it couldn’t overcome the heartache of potentially being rejected again.
And the UFO was never seen at this church again.
I am sure that many of you can see where I am going with this.
And yes, I understand that this story has a negative tone and is filled with rejection. The harsh reality is that not all stories are happy stories. Some stories end in heartbreak. The point of this story is to raise awareness and prevent that from happening in the future.
Now, let us jump to the application if you have not already guessed it.
Is this story that different from the experiences of people affected by disabilities when they are brave enough to enter a church for the first time? What if you replaced “alien” with “a person affected by disability”? What if you replaced “UFO” with “wheelchair conversion vehicle”?
Before I get one sentence further let me say this… Don’t hear what I am not saying! I am not saying that people that have disabilities are aliens. This story was meant to illustrate the reaction that some, not all, churches have when they encounter people affected by disability. It is as if they have encountered an otherworldly creature. This should not be!
Unfortunately, I have heard way too many stories from people affected by disability that have been treated this way and never returned to the church as a result.
People are people first. They should not be viewed differently, or like an alien, because of their disability.
Churches can do better and we can help. For “people first” resources, sensitivity training, and everything you need to know to be welcoming of ALL people contact us today.