God is providing an opportunity to change people’s hearts and minds about men and women with intellectual disabilities. Let us take full advantage!
More than 7,000 athletes and nearly 30,000 volunteers are gathering in Los Angeles this week for the Special Olympics World Games that starts on Saturday. Special Olympics is dedicated to providing people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to compete and learn skills. The organizing committee for the Special Olympics estimates as many as 500,000 people will attend the games, and ESPN is televising the opening ceremonies and providing regular updates and highlights throughout the week.
These 7,000 athletes represent more than 200,000,000 people around the world living with intellectual disabilities. Their disabilities are related to diagnoses like Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
We will see men and women running, swimming, lifting weights, and competing in ways that will impress us and possibly even confound our understanding of what it means to live with intellectual disabilities. Further, we will see winners celebrating and losers being consoled by friends and family – just like ‘normal’ athletes.
And there is the opportunity for us! The enemy and destroyer of our unborn children with disabilities attempts to make them into a scary diagnosis rather than a real person. That’s much harder to do when you’ve just seen an athlete with Down syndrome or autism compete, showing the discipline and determination that comes with competition. Let’s take advantage of this natural opportunity to make much of God’s diversity in his creation!
Yet we must also be realistic about how some people will respond. The ghoulish videos of executives from Planned Parenthood talking about harvesting the body parts of dead children is evidence of our enemy’s ability to blind the eyes of people from Christ’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:4) and to their own depravity and deadness of heart.
But we live with hope! All of us were blind to his glory and dead in our sins until God made us alive:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)
Please pray this week that God would use this gathering of athletes to open the eyes of spiritually blind people to Christ’s glory. And let us specifically pray for President and First Lady Obama around this event. They are both vocal supporters of Planned Parenthood and so-called ‘reproductive choice,’ and are honorary co-chairs of the World Special Olympics. The First Lady is participating in the opening ceremonies:
Father, as Mrs. Obama looks out over thousands of people living with intellectual disabilities this week, help her and others to see and enjoy them as human beings made in the image of their God, with inherent dignity and value. Celebrating their lives and accomplishments is a wonderful task! And then, Father, give her, and all of us, the desire to protect those in the womb with intellectual disabilities from being intentionally and systematically destroyed through abortion. Sovereign Lord, you are able! Please do it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.