Enabling Church Conference
Posted by Becky Miles/Laura Nelson, 21 November 2016
On Saturday 12 November we launched the NIrV Accessible Edition of Matthew’s Gospel at the Enabling Church Conference in London.
Despite it being a horribly gloomy and wet London day (it even managed to rain inside a bit) delegates turned out in force to the conference. The conference was organised by ‘Churches for All’– a network of Christian disability charities including our three partners in the Accessible Bible project– Prospects, The Torch Trust and Urban Saints.
Every delegate was given a copy of the NIrV Accessible Edition of Matthew’s Gospel to read, share and hopefully give us feedback on what they thought about it. We really wanted to help people catch a vision for the project and, by seeking feedback, ensure that when we come to release the full New Testament edition it truly meets the needs of those requiring a more accessible Bible.
The conference theme of ‘No Limits’ reflected, so closely, our thinking about the Accessible Bible. Ultimately God’s Word is for ALL, but due to small font size, thin paper and complex language it is inaccessible to millions across the UK alone. This huge inequality must change. The Bible is critical in outreach and discipleship. The latest Barna research revealed that 27% of Christians came to faith by reading the Bible alone, so limiting access to God’s Word makes knowing and living for God much more difficult.
The conference highlighted two points for me. On the negative side, there is still so much stigma and inequality around disability – even in the UK. This includes within the Church, where there are many stories of judgement and exclusion. On the positive side, the conference revealed a community of people, full of gifts, talent and experience, some of whom are finally being allowed to flourish, many of whom are waiting to be allowed to do so. One of the most spiritually profound moments of the day for me was listening to Tim, who has Down’s syndrome and set up groups for those with learning disabilities to support one another in prayer. His passion, humility and ability to get right to the important truths of our faith blew me away. It reminded me what our Accessible Bible project is all about – people like Tim who want to know and serve God more, but who currently struggle to read His Word.
It was so encouraging to hear people’s responses to Matthew’s Gospel at the Conference. One mother told me she picked it up, opened it, and was brought to tears on the realisation that finally, there was a Bible resource her daughter might be able to access.
My prayer today, is that many more people will be impacted in a similar way.
You can read more about the Accessible Bible project here and you can buy a copy of the Gospel of Matthew NIrV Accessible Edition from our online shop for £2.50.