Billy* grabbed the ball, and rushed two-thirds of the way down the basketball court. He evaded the opposition, and even members of his own team who got in the way. He flung the ball accurately and scored. The crowd cheered his first goal ever. Even the opposition cheered. His coach was smiling.
It was an own goal. Billy followed it up with another. The crowd cheered that too.
The story got around that the coach had been trying to give Billy the courage to shoot a goal for nearly two seasons. It was a real achievement; we were all pleased for Billy.
It didn’t matter that it was a major tournament. In Special Olympics, courage and persistence are cheered. The perspective is different from the so-called normal world, because each person is valued.
The disability world is a lot like church. It’s half-hidden from the community and it has trouble explaining itself to our wider society. It’s subject to prejudice, and a lot of people work in it sacrificially.
But the disability world is one of the most unevangelised groups according to Operation World, a textbook on mission.
This pewsitter sees a deeper similarity between the disability world and our community of Christians. In church we are always playing in the Special Olympics. In God’s eyes we lack so much, none of us plays very well, the best of us only understanding the basic parts of the game.
This particular occupier of a pew space has always thought that ‘stuff-up’ is a better working theory than ‘conspiracy’ for what goes on at church. You see, if the church drove a car it would be allowed to park in the spaces painted blue near the doors of the shopping centre.
So finally this column gets round to Connect 09. This pewsitter thinks that Connect 09 was always going to be a hard sell in the pews. Evangelism generally is – I mean the practice of it, not the theory. The fact is that most pewsitters have not heard of Connect 09 yet, because details about it have been slow to emerge.
But if the Archbishop had come up with a cut-and-dried detailed plan for how to connect in 09, we would have all cried ‘centralisation’. But he didn’t – at least I don’t think he did.
So some of us are still in the stage of finding out what it is and wondering why we have not been told more. He can’t win you see – he is in the Special Olympics as well.
The idea of Special Olympics is that everybody plays. So each reader is hereby appointed “Archdeacon for Connect 09” in your street. (You can use the honorific “Venerable” if you like.)
It’s up to you to join in the game regardless of handicap.
I am reliably informed that our coach will be watching the game, and will cheer us on even when we blunder. Like Billy, even our own goals will be made to count for good.
*Not his real name