Book Review: "Disability in Mission: The Church's Hidden Treasure"
Written by our team member AJ, The Banquet Network’s Administrative Assistant. This review is on the book “Disability in Mission: The Church's Hidden Treasure” edited by David Deuel and Nathan John.
Christians have been challenged since the early days not only how to reach people with disabilities in gospel efforts but more recently how to enable them to be part of local ministry and missions themselves. There are various difficulties people with disabilities encounter in the church and in the world that create obstacles and barriers to fulfilling what they believe God is calling them to do as Christians living out the Great Commission. This book provides many stories where “God has worked powerfully in missions through disability, and not just in spite of disability” (5). Though there is no magical formula to equipping people with disabilities to participate in the mission of the church, these inspiring stories will help build a biblical framework of how to include people with disabilities in the call to take the gospel to the nations. David Deuel begins by unpacking biblical weakness as central in God’s redemptive work in Christians knowing that success happens when we are weak and Christ is our strength (9). Churches are missing out if they are not equipping and sending people with disabilities to the mission field.
Of course, there is prayer and wisdom in seeking God’s plans for people with disabilities desiring to take the gospel to another nation. One story spoke of the hardships of having a child with Down syndrome in an area where there might not be the resources they had at hand in America. The parents had to remember their son was also an image bearer of Christ called to advance the gospel in his own God-given abilities. Considering the Imago Dei, “if there is no degradation of the image of God as such, then there is no degradation in the role of a member of the body of Christ who has a disability” (123). Sending churches and agencies must be shaped by a gospel view of disabillity and not fall into questioning the missional ability of our friends being fit for ministry (126). As Nathan John wraps up the book, he emphasizes that disability is the hidden treasure that brings greater glory to God as Isaiah 45:3 says, “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name” (147).
This book is an encouraging resource for church leaders and members that includes helpful reflections throughout individual’s stories and approaches to equipping and sending people on mission, especially those with disabilities.