They say you should never live with regrets. That may be so, but there are certain events that I do regret that I didn’t act differently. I will share one moment that still haunts me.
Years ago I attended a Pentecostal church (this post is not meant to be a criticism of Pentecostals). I was a part of a young adults group that included a Sunday school class before the service. One of the people in the group had an acquired brain injury that left him largely paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
At the time, we had been having a healing evangelist preach in our church, claiming that healing was available to all who would just ask. All you needed was to pray and it was done. But this young man in the wheelchair was a reminder that something was off somewhere.
The leader of our young adult class prayed for the young man’s healing and then told him that all he needed to do is respond in obedience and receive his healing. It sure looked like he was still paralyzed.
Our leader was convinced that the young man was just buying into the lie that he was not healed. We just needed to help him see that the healing had already taken place.
So our leader took one side of him and had me grab the other side and we tried to force him to walk up and down the halls of the church. Not just for a few minutes, but for perhaps twenty minutes, we forced this young man to try and walk, all the while trying to convince him that he was already healed.
I knew that what we were doing was wrong. But I was a coward and did not speak up. What was taking place was both bad theology and bad pastoral care. I’m embarrassed that I was ever involved in that event.
I’m not saying that is always wrong to pray for someone to be healed from a disability. But there is an appropriate and healthy way to do it. What we did was not that.
I can’t change the past but I can work toward advocating for people with disabilities and making churches safe places for all for every ability.