In this short blog post, author Jill Miller explains why she wrote the Bethesda Series.
I love Kim. I love people like Kim. When I am around people that others see as “dis-abled,” I see “abled.” One of those abilities is relentless faith.
Kim is the fourth of our six kids. Paul and I are both teachers, and we tried to teach all six kids the Bible. We sent them to Christian schools. Paul was the principal of a Christian school, but Kim was frequently left out. She wasn’t able to go to a Christian school because of her multiple challenges. She was able to keep up in Sunday School up to first grade, and then got frustrated with all the scissors, play groups, and interaction with the other kids and teachers. I stayed with Kim for about twenty years during the Sunday School hour. I got frustrated because “this little light” was being hidden under a bushel.
I believe all of us can learn. We are made in the image of God, and God is limitless. I don’t believe in ceilings where people stop learning. With this in mind, I looked at curriculum for Kim and her friends. The material I reviewed looked too simple. Good teachers expose students to concepts that they may never understand. Exposure is important to lifelong learning! I remember being taught trigonometry and thinking, “What in the world is this man trying to teach me!” But that didn’t stop him from exposing me to the information and giving me an opportunity to “grab” what I could. This is what I have tried to do with the Bethesda Series. I want to give Kim and her friends the opportunity to learn God’s Word, the Bible. I want them to have the opportunity to discover. I want them to experience Jesus, to know at a new level, his amazing love for them!
I looked at the Person of Jesus study and thought to myself, “Just start with this.” As the weeks went by, Jesus took over the lessons. He truly gave me the ideas. When I reread the lessons I’d think, “This was not my idea.” Jesus’ heart is where the weak are, and I saw His heart revealed as I sat down to adapt these lessons.
Courtney, our oldest daughter, gave me a copy of the Bible with all the stories in the Gospels that had anything to do with disabilities cut out with an exact-o knife. Many pages were almost completely cut away.The Gospels weren’t the Gospels without those stories. Could it be that the church isn’t the church when people with disabilities are “cut out?” Every week my friends in the class teach me. I learn from them! I need their faith and warm honesty. My hope is that the beauty of Jesus will be seen through “the least of these!”
“As your words are taught, they give light; even the simple can understand them.” Psalm 119:130.
Jill A. Miller