InterVarsity seeks to reach every corner of every campus. But one corner is often overlooked or underserved. That corner is the significantly high percentage of U.S. students with a documented disability: 19% of undergraduate students and 12% of graduate and professional school students, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. These resources are presented with these students in mind -- to help us reach, serve, include and become co-laborers with this crucial corner of campus.
In this interview, Kevin Timpe, a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, gives us a glimpse into his passion for building communities that fully include people with disabilities. “We're all worse off when we exclude people with disabilities from our communities,” Kevin writes in his new book, Disability and Inclusive Communities. The Body of Christ is richer if it is diverse.
We all want a place to belong, a place where we can be our true selves, relax, and be loved unconditionally. Often, for those affected by disability, it’s hard to find that comfortable and comforting place. InterVarsity groups can be that place. My passion is for students with disabilities to know God’s love for them, that God has a plan and purpose for their lives and works through them and their disability to encourage the growth of faith in others. They are an important part of the Body of Christ and we all lose out if they aren't in our chapters and using their spiritual gifts alongside us.
When my youngest son, Luke, was diagnosed with autism our family was distressed and confused. But through the years, the Lord has used Luke to teach us all. I long to see more of our InterVarsity chapters include those who are differently abled, to be strategic about reaching out with the Gospel to this population on campus and to more fully reflect God’s people because of it.
While Jesus was on earth, he went to those who lived on the margins of life. Those folks whom society, including Christian society, wrote off and didn’t care about. He made time for them and had compassion on them. This included the physically ill. The sin-sick. And those with disabilities—the neurodiverse and people with special needs. Are we doing the same today?
InterVarsity is committed to reaching every corner of the campus, so we have focused ministries to particular populations: ethnic specific chapters, International Student Ministry, Athletes InterVarsity, Greek InterVarsity, Arts Ministry and more. But one area that is often overlooked is ministry to students with disabilities. About 12 percent of college students have some type of disability, and it can be difficult for them to plug into Christian community.
3x3 resources give you quick tips: 3 important facts to know, 3 common mistakes to avoid and 3 suggested activities to try on campus.
Books, articles and websites to extend understanding of people affected by disability.
For further information, contact the Disability Resources Team.