Don't miss the Kings and Queens that God has seen
By John Naudé
I love the story of Samuel following God’s instructions in choosing the future king of Israel. He asks to see Jesse’s sons and to cut a long story short he sees everyone but David, and God tells Samuel there is someone else. David wasn’t what Samuel or Jesse thought were future king material – but God did.
As someone with a disability and who uses a wheelchair, there are plenty of people who have looked at me and have had a very limited perspective of what I could achieve, certainly not to be a vicar of a church!
I thought I would give a brief introduction of myself. I was ordained in 1996 in Peterborough Diocese, where the then DDO saw beyond the perceived visual limitations of using a wheelchair. I spent my curacy and first post in Northamptonshire, then moved to an incumbency post in Portsmouth Diocese. After a period of time my late wife and I felt called by God to serve with a small missionary organisation called Emmanuel International in Malawi where I taught at a small bible school. I now serve as the Associate Vicar at The Point Church in Burgess Hill.
I never would have dreamt that God would call me into ministry and use me so much and then take me to different parts of the world as part of my service of Him.
I never would have dreamt that God would call me into ministry and use me so much and then take me to different parts of the world as part of my service of Him. But somehow God saw beyond the societal expectations of someone with a disability and uses me as his servant for hopefully the building up of his Church.
As I write I am aware that there may be ordinands reading this. For some there may be feeling of being overwhelmed that God could be calling you to be involved in leading part of His church. The joy is that God calls and equips us for the ministry He has for us, I am sure David as a young child never had the idea of being King. Not until Samuel appeared.
I wonder how many people we miss because we don’t see them, especially disabled people.
So, often we undervalue who we are. Disabled people are undervalued within our society and I would have to say even more so within the Church. Our expectations of people with disabilities can be something like Jesse, ignored and seen as of no value – he was just a shepherd. Yet in God’s sight he was a future King. I wonder how many people we miss because we don’t see them, especially disabled people.
The bizarre thing is that God sees the potential in us, to see us as Kings – yet rather than rule it over people we are called to serve and model our lives on Christ as we see in Philippians 2.7–8: "He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!"
My prayer is that we may model ourselves on Christ and that the Church may not miss the people that God is calling to serve in His Church and look out for the ‘kings and queens’ that He has chosen rather than those who we think are the most suitable.
The Revd John Naudé trained at Ridley in the mid 1990s. John was the first stipendiary clergyman to use a wheelchair, and is now Associate Vicar at The Point Church in Burgess Hill.
More from John Naudé
John was recently interviewed on the topic of disability and the Church, for Growing Hope Conversations, a new 12-part podcast series sharing stories of those living with additional needs and tackling barriers of accessibility. Growing Hope provides free therapy for children and young people with additional needs in partnership with local churches across the UK.