Surrender Conference 2019: Part 2

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When social justice and Christianity come together, the results can transform both individuals and communities.

In Part 1 of our three-part Surrender Conference 2019 series, we shared Ipul Powaseu’s insights and stories about some of the barriers to disability inclusion.

Ipul highlighted that people with disabilities experience exclusion not only due to physical barriers, such as those relating to access, but also due to barriers that come from negative attitudes and beliefs. One example of an attitudinal barrier Ipul gave is the story of a woman who wanted to be part of an arts and craft group, but the women would pray for her without welcoming her into the group.

In Part 2, we share some of Stevie Wills’ journey as a Christian woman living with a disability. Stevie, CBM Australia’s Community Education Officer, says it was through this journey that she experienced what it was like to become fully part of a community who shared her faith after years of exclusion.

“I went to church at 17 years old”, Stevie said.

Stevie said that throughout high school, she had no real friends in her year level – which made her think she was “boring and uninteresting”. But once she started going to church, where she was fully supported and included by her faith community, her experience and understanding of herself became very different.

“People sat down and took the time to get to know me”, Stevie said.

This is just one part of what CBM Australia wants for all people with disabilities: for people to develop an understanding of what life is like for people with disabilities, the barriers faced, and for all people to be included in their local communities.

This last point touches on the ‘sacredness of humanity’, which Stevie referenced in her poem Speak at the Surrender Conference. The line from Speak that resonates with CBM Australia’s work alongside some of the most marginalised people in the world is:

Let us hear another, every other, through the preconception of dignity; sacredness of humanity.

Learn about CBM Australia’s disability inclusion research in Part 3 of our Surrender Conference 2019 series.