In Romans 12:10, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 12:23-24, he explains the need to give all the more honor to those who are denied it by the world.
These are important exhortations to Vital Signs Ministries, seeking as we do to build a culture of life in which all people are treated with respect, dignity and compassion. But in an irreligious culture, one dominated by pragmatics, profits and the pursuit of self-indulgent pleasure, there are certain types of people who are continually being marginalized.
I've been reflecting anew on this challenge these last few days -- days which have included dealing with my Mom in her declining health, presenting "When Swing Was King" over the weekend in two nursing homes; leading my church yesterday in observing the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, being asked to give prayers yesterday afternoon at a public vigil outside the northwest Planned Parenthood, sidewalk counseling this morning at the Bellevue abortion clinic, preparing to talk to little kids at a church AWANA program on Wednesday night and, after it was called to my attention by high school classmate Ron Rizzo, thinking about how I might observe Special Education Week.
I know that part of the challenge is to keep on doing such things as I mention above. But to do them with renewed vigor, humility, gratitude and joy. I also need to link them together; that is, to seek the connection between the preborn child, the disabled teenager, the prisoner of conscience, and the aged grandparent. That connection is one of common humanity, yes. But it is a stronger, more vital connection too -- the bond of grace.
There are other challenges too. For instance, I must pray more fervently, more frequently for people who are specially targeted or who are considered "throwaways." I must be willing to break out of established patterns and comfort zones in order to plead their cause. And, when I can (and I can an awful lot more than I'm usually given to), be ready to volunteer my hands in their service.
I must encourage others to honor those whom the world despises. And I must give thanks and encouragement to the caregivers who effectively, faithfully serve people with special needs all the time.
So, thank you to special education teachers. You are doing a noble and wonderful ministry. Thank you to nurses and aides and therapists and activity directors and all others who work in the homes for the aged, orphanages and hospitals. Your work is of exceptional value. Thank you to adoptive parents, to CPC volunteers, to intercessors, to missionaries, and to all others who are putting Paul's exhortations into loving reality. God sees your heartfelt service and His rewards will prove well worth your every sacrifice. But we need to thank you too.