A leader of a disability ministry in India was approached by an Indian pastor to speak at a program his church wanted to host. The church decided they would have a special lunch program to feed the many leprosy-affected people who sat outside the entrance of the church grounds Sunday after Sunday begging for money and food.
The pastor thought it would be a great idea to get his congregation involved in a practical form of ministry that served these pitifully poor and destitute people in ways that resembled Christ’s service to the poor. He wanted the disability ministry leader to provide a word of special encouragement to them because they were all badly disfigured and disabled as a result of this horrible disease.
Upon hearing the pastor’s proposal, the disability ministry leader asked, “Are you planning on having the leprosy affected people join your congregation and sit with your people in the pews after this program?” The pastor was noticeably caught off guard by the question. He hadn’t thought about that. The disability ministry leader then said, “If you and your congregation aren’t willing to see these people sitting in your church worshiping with you on Sundays and becoming a part of your congregation why are you having a special lunch for them? They don’t need your pity. They need your friendship and a sense of belonging to something that brings them closer to God and others.”
This was obviously more than the pastor had bargained for and he went away claiming his congregation wasn’t quite ready for that kind of commitment. The disability ministry leader realized their proposed lunch program was more about themselves than the leprosy affected people they saw every Sunday sitting outside the entrance of their church grounds.