Recently, I noticed the absence of a special group of people who were supposed to be in church. We spent a lot of money to prepare for their attendance but they did not come.
In 1990 the American Disabilities Act was signed into law. We assumed that it was for people confined to wheelchairs. Pressure was put on the public to make their places of business wheelchair accessible. The law required curbside ramps, special parking places, large entry ways, and bathrooms with rails for the handicapped.
Should Hearing Accessibility be Included in the Church?
Churches began to comply with the law and followed the requirements. They have built outside and inside ramps, elevators, special doors and parking spaces. All this effort for people in wheelchairs, but where are these special people today? How big is the wheelchair population in America? Can we estimate one in a thousand, five hundred or a hundred? We have been in scores of churches and have seen one or two wheelchairs at the most. What happened? Is there no longer a need for this type of ministry? Did we build those ramps because it was the law or out of love for someone in need?
The ADA exempted churches and non-profit ministries from the law. What you may not know is that the ADA includes other disabilities and handicaps. The largest disability group in the country is hard of hearing people. 36 Million people in America suffers from some degree of hearing loss. This group will double in size to 70+ million in the next decade. The alarming thing is that neither the medical profession, the public nor the church is prepared to accommodate these people.
We are at a critical moment in the church to do something to reach the hearing impaired. In every congregation in American one out of every six members has a significant hearing loss and needs some hearing accessibility assistance. What is even more shocking is that more than 80% of those with hearing loss will not attend church, a Bible study or a prayer meeting because they cannot function in a hearing world.
For example, in the state of Tennessee there are 350,000 hard of hearing people waiting for an invitation to attend a church that is hearing accessible. They are in every neighborhood in the state. Every church has an untapped mission field outside its doors. With a few simple adjustments we could begin to grow our congregations.
These disabled people literally have nowhere to go unless someone invites them. We as Christians need wisdom to do what is right and honorable for these dear people. A little compassion can go a long way in bringing glory to the name of our LORD.
The mission of LET MY PEOPLE HEAR, INC. is to help people who have lost hearing and want it restored now. With those simple adjustments of love, we can give them the help they need to hear the Word of God clearly. Please pray much about what you can do to reach out to them.
Until the Trumpet Sounds: LET MY PEOPLE HEAR!
David M. Harrison
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