Posted on : Thursday May 25, 2017

Dr. Forrest Riddle teaches children at First Baptist Church, Laurel, Md., how to care for others who require wheelchairs.

By Zachariah Seanor

Have you ever felt burdened by the woes of the church? I know I have. It seems like every morning there’s some new scandal or financial indiscretion plastered all over the daily news. Sometimes the weight of it all gets a little hard to handle. That’s why stories of encouragement, like the one I’m about to share with you, are so important to tell!

A friend of mine recently directed my attention to an article about a group of GAs and RAs in Maryland who are up to something pretty remarkable. Over the past several years, a doctor with a passion for helping children with disabilities has organized an effort to raise money and awareness for a group called Wheels for the World, a ministry connected with Joni Eareckson Tada. Wheels for the World collects used or damaged wheelchairs, which are then repaired and refurbished with the help of inmates from all over the country. These chairs are then sent to children around the world in desperate need of help.

Not only does the good doctor organize fundraisers for this worthy cause, he goes to great lengths to help the children at his church understand why it is so important to provide for those in need. He and the children play games in wheelchairs to show just how hard it can be to wheel around for hours on end. Children also watch films that help them understand the challenges people with disabilities must overcome every day. Eyes are opened, hearts are softened, and a new world opens up to those who take these lessons to heart. Now, this is all pretty great, but there are a few things that strike me as vital lessons for the church as a whole:

It takes a village.

The first thing children learn about this endeavor is that it wouldn’t be possible without the help of some unlikely volunteers. Hearing about the labor of love taken on by inmates teaches a lesson about the nature of God. Those who have been cast aside by society are those who recognize the need to show love to others on the outskirts. God has always had a habit of working with people the rest of the world would rather forget—just check your Bible. Why is it that we keep forgetting this?

Rolling a mile in another person’s wheelchair can change the way you think about them.

When children participate in the games, they realize just how different life can be with a disability. They gain respect and empathy for folks they may have never even noticed before. They learn about people who need to see a real embodiment of the gospel. People who were once viewed as strange or foreign are now seen as valuable and precious children of God.

Action is not an option when it comes to faith in Christ.

GAs and RAs in this church are realizing that it’s simply not enough to say you believe. You have to put your life where your mouth is! These children are learning the words of their Savior are not suggestions, but demands on the lives of the faithful. When Jesus says to love one another, it isn’t an option.

We can look forward to a compassionate and caring generation of believers.

These children are our future. They are being molded into individuals who look at the world through the eyes of a God Who loves us, Who values us, and Who accepts us as we are. Somewhere along the way, I think most of us have forgotten this simple yet profound truth. Maybe with more children like this leading the way, we can find ourselves again.

I hope you take the time to read and really think through this article. What does it mean for your own life? How could you encourage the children of your church to do something similar? How can you be a part of one of those amazing times when the church gets it right?

Zachariah Seanor is the national consultant for Royal Ambassadors, Challengers, and Youth on Mission; husband to an amazing wife; and lover of the great outdoors. When he’s not in the office writing blogs, he enjoys warm fires, cool summer nights, and long walks with his border collie, Nellie.

This article first appeared on on May 23, 2017.