Disability in Mission – The Church’s Hidden Treasure is a multiple author book, the writers ranging from those with a lived experience of disability who serve or have served in mission to parents of children with additional needs who continue to serve in mission.

The premise of the book is that disability should not be a barrier to mission. To quote the final chapter: If we do exclude people with disability from missions, then the mission movement is missing part of the body. The mission is itself disabled. And that’s not God’s plan.”

I was quite excited about this book coming out for many reasons, one being that I am a disabled person in ministry who is regularly faced with the biased opinion that disability excludes you from mission or service of any kind. 

Sadly, this book largely covers overseas mission or serving to support those working overseas and only nods towards the more common and equally vital local mission context – but those nods are gold dust with words such as the church today needs pastors, missionaries, Sunday school teachers and other leaders with disabilities. Perhaps ironically, it suffers spiritually without them.” 


I do fear that the lack of chapters by people working in local mission may cause some to put the book down, thinking it wasn’t for them in their home-based context.

Theologically speaking, this book is going to be Marmite’ to those in the Christian disability community in the UK. The theological groundwork is based on the assumption that God chooses to give or allow disability to some as part of His sovereign plan – this is strongly, almost forcefully, written into many of the chapters; for example, this quote which comes across as quite contradictory: God is not just the cause of disability, but the upholder, enabler and final rescuer of people with disabilities. To see God as responsible is very different from blaming God for disability, which would be a serious error.” This goes against some disability theology that says that although God can and will ultimately use disability in His plans, He is not the instigator of them.

There are a few other theological views that may raise some eyebrows in the realm of disability theology, but even if you do disagree with them, there are lots of gems hidden in this book’s pages and many encouraging stories of those serving in mission across the world. 

It was a difficult read in places, the first chapter being quite technical and reading like a thesis (difficult when you’re relying on a screen reader). But personally, seeing over and over again that disabled people are weak was quite hard to take. It almost unintentionally implied that missionaries without disability are not weak. 

This biblical perspective of being weak is correct and true of all Christians. God’s power does show up best in weakness, but weakness is not the sole preserve of the disabled. Disability should be incidental to the fact we are called, gifted, imitators of Christ and able to serve. Thankfully, there is a helpful chapter on how to facilitate disabled people in their calling, having first discerned what their gifting is.

I’d recommend the book to both those with disability and those seeking to facilitate disabled people in mission – whatever the context. One writer points out the thing that many of us with disabilities regularly face: Perhaps most significant was the struggle for understanding and acceptance from churches and fellow teammates.” Another states: I never question my Christian faith because of the way I am. But I do sometimes question it because of the way some Christians respond to the way I am.” This is why this book needs to be read.