All God's Children: Ministry with Disabled Persons

By Gene Newman and Joni Eareckson Tada
Grand Rapids : Zondervan (1993). 126 Pages.

Reviewed by
4.1 (Spring 1993) : 115-116

The revised edition of All God's Children, a welcome update of the 1981 publication, is a practical tool for pastors and church workers interested in ministering to the disability community. Co-participants in producing the revised edition are Camille Beckham, Vesta Bice, Donna Hall, Linda Harry, Nena Huston, B. J. Maxson, DeAnn Sampley, and Lynne Seno, each with singular and focused expertise, but all deeply committed to disability ministry.

Statistics show that only five percent of churches have an outreach to disabled persons and that ninety-five percent of the people who have disabilities are not active in any church (back cover). Even though those figures present a challenge for the church, modern technology has done much to make churches accessible for the disabled, and increased awareness of disability needs has heightened the sensitivity of God's people.

Chapters 1 and 2 give a biblical perspective on disabilities and discussions of pastor and volunteer roles in facilitating and carrying out disability ministry.

A concise and user-friendly description of the nature and characteristics of various disabilities comes in chaps. 5-9 (Mental Retardation, Deafness, Physical Disabilities, Visual Impairments and Learning Disabilities, respectively). Each chapter has salient discussions of such matters as definition, causes, and classifications, all of which serve as an abbreviated reference material for future use.

The final chapter, entitled "Getting Started," follows a ten-step format to help the pastor or church worker define goals, train teachers and workers, establish adequate emergency procedures, resolve logistical problems, and, in general, give ministry tracks to follow (107). These steps include:

     Begin With a Vision and Prayer

     Contact Church Leaders

     Determine a Target Population

     Identify and Bridge Barriers

     Define a Philosophy, Purpose, and Goals

     Recruit and Train Leaders and Volunteers

     Determine Classroom, Curriculum, and Transportation Needs

     Develop a Budget

     Public Relations

     Know the Participants.

Several minor typographical errors are worth noting: "enchances" (115) "language, perception" (98).