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Rain for Some: The Challenges of Ministry to the Handicapped in Taiwan

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March 2016–Taiwan is an island where we see a lot of rain, especially in the typhoon season, because the typhoon always bring lots of rain. To most people, rain may just be a cause for a little regret or inconvenience. They can maintain their daily life activities, such as work or shopping. However, for the physically handicapped, rain may cause lots of trouble. It is not only because the road becomes very slippery, which makes it easy for them to fall, but also they don’t have an extra hand to hold an umbrella, some of them need to use both hands to carry walking sticks or crutches. Furthermore, it is difficult to get on or off vehicles as well. Therefore, on a rainy day they feel like they are in-prisoned in their homes.

One physically handicapped woman I knew fell and broke her leg because of rain. This accidentcaused lots of trouble in her daily life. Another physically handicapped woman had parents who would not allow her to go out in the rain when she was a child. As a result staying home on a rainy day became a lifetime habit for her.

In the art classes, workshops, and support groups that I hold for the handicapped people we often find that attendance is very low on rainy days. Sometimes not even one person shows up. I was a little disappointed in the beginning, but I understood their absence after I realized their situation. Ministering to the handicapped means having to understand the unique issues in their life.

Another reason that prevents handicapped persons from attending activities is “Bai-Bai” – a phrase used by Taiwanese to describe worship of gods or ancestors. At big festival times, such as Zhong Yuan (midsummer Ghost festival), Autumn Moon Festival, Zongzi (Dragon Boat) Festival and at Chinese New Year’s Eve, they need to prepare food to worship gods and ancestors– women are especially expected to take responsibility for these preparations, therefore they can’t come to join in the classes.

After doing handicapped ministry for more than three years, I deeply feel that all my handicapped friends, no matter whether suffering from mental disorders or physically handicapped are very unique and they are also very sensitive. Therefore, I need to spend time to get to know them, keep them company and win their trust. What they need are people’s understanding and acceptance. Most importantly, instead of being made to feel unimportant or reminded of their dependence on others, they need to feel respected and valued.

Wang Yea-Hui – Taiping

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