Yesterday, I was honoured to open the Christian Resources Exhibition, speaking alongside Sally Phillips expounding the churches for all message that true inclusion goes beyond accessibility to valuing everyone’s contribution to the body of Christ.
While I was at the exhibition I was able to meet lots of interesting people, sign my books with my stamp and be interviewed for local radio.
Here is a copy of my speech:
Throughout my life I have known Jesus with me, cradling me in pain, sheltering me from darkness and beckoning me forward. In my autobiography, Eye Can Write, I took the opportunity to tell of my faith in Jesus and my brief visit to Jesus’ garden, but not so much of the part church plays in my life. With a secular publisher every mention of Jesus was argued, justified and fought over. But a personal faith is nurtured, fed and supported by the church; Christ uses His church as His expression of God’s kingdom on earth.
Therefore, it is wonderful that this year’s CRE has a focus on churches for all, because Jesus is for all. Jesus chooses the weak over the strong, chooses the poor over the rich, chooses the humble over the proud. God’s heart is for those on the margins of society, and his church needs to reflect this. Of course part of this is addressed in making our buildings accessible – wheelchair ramps so we can get in, hearing loops so we can hear, accessible content so we can follow the service. But true inclusion goes deeper than accessibility, true inclusion enables us to contribute as well as receive, true inclusion values us as part of the body of Christ. And we each have a part to play in making God’s kingdom a reality here on earth.
Out of a desire for everyone to contribute, everyone’s voice to be heard I have started my charity Teach Us Too. If everyone is going to be able to contribute, then it is important that everyone is given the same opportunities for a literacy education. Did you know that non-verbal children like me are usually not taught to read and write in special school? Teach Us Too aims to change this through challenging attitudes and assumptions based on labels, influencing educational practice, encouraging ambition and sharing expertise. My proceeds from my book, Eye Can Write are going to Teach Us Too. When non–verbal children are taught to read and write it unlocks their voice, enabling them to say exactly what they want to. We stop being seen as mere recipients and start being valued as members of society.
Jesus gives us life in all its fullness. As churches we have the chance to model a society where all are accepted, all are valued, all are enabled to contribute.