Pensacola Disability Ministry Conference
This past weekend, Joni and Friends of Charlotte, NC, which is a Non-Profit organization for disabled people, came to Marcus Point Baptist Church to team with PURE Friendship Ministries, another NON-Profit organization. The event kicked off on Friday, May 29, 2015 where families were able to come together and mingle with each other within this community. On Saturday, May 30, 2015, the event continued with break-out training sessions for family members.
9 out of 10 families in the United States have members of their families that need support for disabilities. Many people with disabilities do not go to church due to the challenges required to leave the home. In some cases, there is no relationship with the Lord and/or they are not members of a church. This information gives the faith-based community the opportunity to understand and learn what disabled people go through on a daily basis as well as the family member or members who are their caregivers. It’s a great opportunity to ensure that they are aware that Jesus loves them, that the community accepts them and that they have an open invitation to attend or join a good Word teaching, faith-based church.
Victor Smith, who is over Project Empower, attended the event and has also teamed with PURE Friendship Ministries to help people with disabilities and with personal and professional development to live more productively. A key statement from Smith, “People have to understand that people with disabilities need individual training. If you put them in a group, all of them will be upset because each of them learn differently.” Another key statement he made was the fact that “Many people state that it takes a village to raise a child. I beg to differ. It takes a church to raise a child.” He continued by saying, “Church is the foundation for most people in the community, so it should be where a child is raised.”
The presence of the African American community was extremely small in number at this event. The Pensacola Voice spoke to Javonte Powell, who is 24 years old, and has been working with several non-profit organizations since he was 17. Javonte stated, “Disability is disability.” “The problem is most African Americans within the community is not into seeking help because many are ashamed, but more importantly they are concerned about people being in their business.” In addition, Javonte stated “However, if the African American community could only understand, we are not here to get into their business, but if you do not tell us your need we cannot help you.” He continued, “When it comes to getting help, black people fail to really network and networking is key to getting help and even accomplishing their goals.” After Javonte spoke, Victor Smith stated “Black people have to stop being so suspicious of the government. Half of the things they think they know, are myths or misinformation.” Furthermore he stated, “We as a people have to get into the paradigm mindset.”