Larry R Evans, DMin
Assistant to the President
Adventist Possibility Ministries
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Adventist Possibility Ministries (APM) is a life-changing ministry! It is sometimes referred to as “Special Needs Ministries.” The motto of this ministry states clearly an underlying principle on which its existence is based: “All are gifted, needed and treasured!” Included in APM are seven broad ministry categories: The Deaf, the blind, the physically challenged, the emotionally and mentally challenged, orphans and vulnerable children, the widowed, and caregivers.
For decades, those who have not been able to see, hear, walk or communicate like others have often been referred to as being “disabled.” While it is important to recognize one’s limitations, being identified this way can have a demoralizing effect on the person’s own self-perception. Far too often, attention is given only to what a person cannot do or does not have rather than the possibilities that lie before her or him. Perceptions become empowering when the inherent dignity and abilities of each person are given priority. This can be seen in at least three ways:
First, the value and significance of each person is emphasized. In God’s sight, each person has a purpose. Each person is special. God has a plan for every individual (Jeremiah 29:11). As a result, thinking and actions change. With God at the center and not one’s disabilities or what one lacks, hope is revived. Life becomes more about possibilities than impossibilities.
Secondly, others see those with “disabilities” or who have suffered loss differently. A few decades ago, an important life-changing principle was stated about our Christian role. “If we wish to do good to souls, our success with these souls will be in proportion to their belief in our belief in, and appreciation of, them.”1 Whatever the challenge, we should have more engaging conversations about what is possible. The power of motivation naturally comes when it is understood that someone believes in and understands them!
Thirdly, to speak of others as being “disabled” or as being “incomplete” suggests that others don’t have their own limitations. This simply is not true. All are broken in some way. All are in need of wholeness. While Adventist Possibility Ministries does recognize an individual’s limitations, it doesn’t stop there. Nor does the ministry simply focus on “fixing” the limitation. The person matters regardless of what is perceived as a disability or as a loss. No one should ever be left to face life’s difficulties alone. We need each other. This principle is made clear in Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return
for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
This is a ministry about caring and helping develop a sense of inclusiveness. It is a personal work that Jesus would have never put on the back burner. It is about helping individuals, regardless of physical, emotional, or mental limitations, discover their untapped “possibilities.” It is about caring for those who have suffered a loss or separation whether it be parents (orphans/vulnerable children) or a spouse (the widowed and divorced), or those who selflessly care for others. Labels that depreciate a person’s sense of self-worth are replaced when value and fulfillment are found in a life of service.
Adventist Possibility Ministries is a grassroots movement with organizational encouragement by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. We look for ministry supporting partners who, without any legal binding, informally work together in a shared vision to reach out to those with special needs. It is our desire to help them find a wholeness in God and a life of fulfillment in service to Him and others.
1 White, Ellen G., Fundamentals of Christian Education, p.281.