As we journeyed through themes of hospitality and justice during our 40 Days of True Religion, one thought always came back to me. How can we apply these truths when it comes to the church’s interactions with people with disabilities? How can we practically accept and love people with disabilities here? For me and for PCC, this isn’t some random question. It really matters to me. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Candace Lee. As a child, I didn’t realize the challenges I would face. 

I was born with a photographic memory and a Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation. That is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins. CAM can occur throughout the body, though mine has developed in the brain. I am now in the process of exploring treatment options.

Over the years, life was not easy, even in church. As someone with Autism, it is very difficult for me to make and keep friends. There have been times that I have felt like people were making fun of people with disabilities. Sometimes I overheard comments that did not build community. At times I’ve felt like an outsider looking in. Though it hasn’t always been easy, I have found some ways of being a part of the church. I have helped decorate the church for 2 years and I attend the YAM (Young Adult Ministry) small group. The Handcrafted group has made a difference in my life by knowing that I can give back and contribute to my community. There are many people who have been very inspirational in my life through this church community that I love. 

I write this because I hope and believe that PCC can be a place known for loving people with disabilities. We can be a place where no one has to feel like an outsider. I am committed to this church family, which can be challenging for someone also on the Autism spectrum. So I have been thinking. What could we do to communicate openness to those with disabilities? There is a Christian family that started a business called, “Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project,” in order to teach their daughter Jordyn, who has Autism, job skills. The family designed a shirt with the slogan, “BE KIND TO EVERYONE.” What a wonderful idea. I think that it would be amazing if PCC would be willing to look at their website to learn more about this family and how we can support them as well as other companies that contribute to the success of hiring and employing individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities. 

If you want an example of how to treat someone with a disability, just follow Dr. Joanna Nachef around for a few days. She and my family – they will show you what it looks like. 

Brought to you by a member of PCC, Candace Lee.