For the past few weeks I have noticed something at the church that I attend. Whenever I arrive for the 5pm service the hosts or ushers quickly usher me to a certain section in the auditorium. At first I didn’t pay attention to it till one day I saw a “TLC” sticker on one of the seats then it clicked.
I now have reserved seats at church (insert happy dance here). Ok it might not seem like a big deal to anyone but to me it is EVERYTHING. It says that the church cares about people with disabilities. Well I already knew this from like 3 years ago when I attended the main church conference but to see it happen at my own campus has truly blessed my heart.
Each Sunday before you walk into the building you are met with this huge sign saying WELCOME HOME. Now when I see that welcome home sign and walk into the auditorium to my reserved seats, it really does make me feel like I am at home. This makes me happy to know that someone noticed that I don’t always get a good seat in church and decided to reserve seats for me every Sunday.
Allow me to share why this is very significant. Out of all the churches I have been a member of, this is the first church that has priority seating for special needs people. In fact in some churches I have been a member of, I would have to fight with the hosts/ushers just to get a good seat. One specific incident comes to mind that happened in my home church in Zimbabwe. It was back in 2006 or was it 2011 now I honestly can’t remember what year it was. Anyway I arrived early for the 930am Sunday service but not early enough to be in the front of the queue. So there I was caught up in the stampede when the doors opened and trying to push through the crowd with my small self proved too difficult so I gave up and waited for everyone to get in. I eventually managed to get into the auditorium and asked an usher to look for a seat for me and he blatantly told me there were no empty seats. I didn’t argue and left him alone then proceeded to find a corner where I sat on the floor. A few minutes later an elder in the church sees me sitting on the floor and asked why. To cut a long story short that very same usher who had initially refused to look for a seat for me was instructed to either give up his seat or look for a seat for me. To my surprise he miraculously found a free seat for me. And this is just one of many many similar incidents.
I’m just happy I am now in a church that priorities people with disabilities. It makes feel wanted and included.
Are you a Christian? Do you attend a church? I’m going to challenge you now. Next time you are at church observe if your church has any reserved seating for people with disabilities. Why am I challenging you? Because the theme for the International Day of People with Disabilities 2015 was Inclusion meaning this whole year the focus is on finding ways to include people with disabilities. If you take on this challenge, please let me know what you find.
“Disability can happen to anyone. Inclusion starts with you. Choose to be part of the solution, choose to be inclusive.”-@colleenchifamba (2015).