In the morning of Sunday, January 13, there was lively movement in the Agenskalns Baptist Church, indicating that the service would be different. Not for the first time, to be true, because two Disability Awareness Sunday services have already taken place in this Church. Yet there were even more people in wheelchairs this Sunday, and a few more benches had to be removed to clear space for them. Welcoming the “wheeled guests” might have taken some extra care for somebody, but it could be felt that in this congregation, people are not scared of what’s different. God often has to break our established, accustomed and comfortable arrangements so that he can do something extraordinary.
The theme of the service, “Disability without borders”, was chosen with intention to talk about both sides of the “disability coin”. Sometimes there is the impression that two totally opposing perceptions of people with disabilities are spreading or being spread in society. They are either pitied and considered to be inferior or made to be admirable heroes and inspirers. In fact, disability in itself is an embarrassing and restrictive factor, and both the will of the disabled individual and the understanding and assistance of fellow people are required to overcome it.
In his sermon, pastor Edgar Mazis invited us not to judge each other by the outward appearance, but to learn to see the way God sees “looking at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Iveta and Edgars shared their experience of overcoming their daily challenges. Despite of disability and the fact that both of them are wheelchair users, they decided to get married, and they are convinced that, together and with God, all the difficulties are easier to overcome. Ailita Kuka told about how and why her autobiographical book “It’s My Flight” was written, and Hildegunn Grønvold Rossland presented her book “Shout It Out” that’s just been published in English. It was a miracle of God’s mercy that, after several really bad days in hospital and fighting between life and death, she had dared to make her way from Norway to Latvia to participate in this particular church service. It is an incentive for each of us to use even the least chance to testify of the works of God, because you never know which chance will be the last one.
Donations were collected at the service for accommodating the church facilities for wheelchair users. We want to believe that other churches also will get “infected” by the good example of Agenskalns Baptist Church. The next Disability Awareness Sunday service is scheduled for June.
More photos here.