Helping Those with Special Needs
1 Do we look for ways to work together with those whose opportunities to speak of Jehovah and his goodness are greatly limited due to some handicap or disability? There is hardly a congregation that does not have one or more individuals who are limited in what they can do because of some disability. There are many who are incapacitated physically because they are crippled, blind, deaf, or aged. While Jehovah is certainly pleased with their limited service, should we conclude that their desire to share fully is any less than ours?
2 It is true with some that physical infirmities produce a greater awareness of Jehovah’s love and goodness, prompting the individual to want to do more. Such a person may look for greater opportunities to serve Jehovah, and with some assistance from others, this may be possible, with greater joy resulting to all. Would it not be a fine expression of loving interest to include such ones in our plans for service, being alert to opportunities to take them with us or assist them to participate? This is in line with our set goal to HELP ONE ANOTHER!
WHAT WE CAN DO
3 This thoughtfulness certainly harmonizes with the operation of Jehovah’s spirit, which permeates the Christian congregation. Paul explained that there are “many members, yet one body” and observed that there are “members of the body which seem to be weaker” due to limitations that could be of a physical nature. The result? “If one member suffers, all the other members suffer with it.” The effort to assist such ones with “helpful services” draws the congregation together in love and amplifies the proclamation of the Kingdom message.—1 Cor. 12:19-31.
4 Can you think of some ways to do that? In one congregation there was a blind brother who was not entirely satisfied with what he was doing in Jehovah’s service. He wanted to do more. Sensing a need, another brother asked if there was some way he could assist. As things worked out, the blind brother was soon conducting a regular Bible study of his own. How did he do it? The helping brother took time each week to read the entire lesson out loud for him. He would accompany the blind one on the Bible study and read the questions. Being familiar with all the material, the blind brother was able to conduct a fine study, much to his joy.
5 In another congregation, several deaf ones became associated. There was no one to assist them as an interpreter, so a few of the young brothers and sisters were alert to this need and learned the sign language. They made a fine expression of their brotherly love by helping to convey the benefits of the meetings to such ones. They also arranged to take them along with them in the service, setting up opportunities on various calls where these deaf ones could express their hope to others. Needless to say, there was a mutual interchange of encouragement among all involved.
6 A severely crippled sister found it almost impossible to get to the meetings or share in group arrangements for service. Several thoughtful publishers arranged to take turns recording congregation meetings so that she could get the benefits even though confined at home. Besides regular visits to give encouragement, they also helped her arrange things so as to share in the service. They provided her with names and addresses of interested persons to whom she could write and some of them she was even able to develop into Bible studies. There have been similar cases where the interested person has been brought to the bedside of the infirm one and the study was conducted there regularly. Other experiences tell of kindly publishers taking infirm ones along in a wheelchair when they do street work or when they work in apartment buildings where such ones can move about more easily from door to door. It takes a little more time and effort, but think of the far-reaching benefits of thus working together.
7 You likely can discover a wide variety of similar needs existing right in your own congregation. Do you have a foreign-speaking publisher with a language barrier? Is there some older brother or sister who needs a helping hand? What about those who might have a chronic ailment that permits service activity only under specialized conditions? If you give this matter some thought, you may be able to contribute toward helping your brother in a manner that can bring great joy to him, as well as to yourself.
8 Planning our activity with a view to working together assures the incapacitated ones that “if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up.” It also gives real meaning to the proverb: “Friends always show their love. What are brothers for if not to share trouble?”—Eccl. 4:10; Prov. 17:17, Today’s English Version.