A War Memorial for Disabled People

  • Nov. 20, 2014
  • #8494

Visiting and befriending people with disabilities is a vital ministry. God’s word exhorts us to rescue the weak and the needy.

A War Memorial for Disabled People

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with something I read in the news lately.

I love keeping up with news from around the world, and not long ago I saw a short little news item put out by the Associated Press. It talked about Germany opening a memorial to the disabled victims of the Nazi regime. The memorial is a 79-foot blue glass pane that stands on the site of a villa where the mass murder of disabled patients from hospitals and mental institutions was carried out starting in 1940. Amazingly, over 200,000 people with mental and physical disabilities were killed because their lives were deemed worthless. The killing program was a kind of test-run for all the other programs of mass eradication which followed, such as the eradication of gypsies, Romanians, and of course the Jews.

I remember when, many years ago, Ken and I had an opportunity to visit one of the extermination camps in Poland. We saw the crumpled gas chambers and the guard towers, and then we went into a little museum – in one section there were floor-to-ceiling piles of nothing but crutches and walking canes. There must have been thousands of them, each one meticulously noted on a log the Nazi medical teams kept on all these disabled people. It made me ill. Sitting there in my wheelchair, I kept shaking my head thinking of the horror that happened not all that long ago in modern history. And here’s the thing; here’s my point…

When the Nazi medical teams began carting away disabled people in the dark, in the night, down the long hallways of those institutions, they didn’t take just any disabled people. No. They looked for mentally and physically disabled children and adults who had no visitors. Who had no family members who came. No regular advocates who checked up on them, or championed their cause. The medical teams singled out and carted away disabled people who were alone; the ones with no visitors.

And that says something so powerful about the ministry people can have just by visiting, just by advocating and being a friend to or speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. It’s why Proverbs 31, verse 8 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” And elsewhere in Psalm 82 that theme is repeated where God says, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Friend, that’s a noble profession; a worthy cause – to visit, and befriend, and advocate for and speak up on behalf of the elderly, and the disabled. If you are in a ministry that does that, my hat’s off to you. I am grateful to God for your nursing home ministry or your outreach to a residential care facility for disabled people. Because you are helping to create a culture in America that truly cares about the weak and does not deem them as worthless. And as a disabled person myself, next week on Thanksgiving Day, I'll be thanking God I was born in America, and not Germany in the 1940s.

Hey, I would love for you to see a photo of this new memorial that Germany just erected in Berlin, a memorial to commemorate those hundreds of thousands of children and adults with disabilities who perished. Just go to my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and take a look. Then, like this transcript and share it with your Facebook friends. Let me hear your thoughts on this topic. It’s the Psalm 82 and Proverbs 31 thing to do.

*Photo: BBC.com

© Joni and Friends

 

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