by Dr. Ken Matto
(2 Tim 1:8, 15-16 KJV) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; {15} This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. {16} The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:

In the above verses we read a little about the final imprisonment of Paul right before his home going at the hand of Nero. It is at this time that we see who his true Christian friends were and who was not. He wrote that these Christians should not be ashamed of his bondage because he was in prison for the sake of the Gospel. Maybe if Paul did not appeal to Caesar, he might have lived longer to continue his work. This should be a warning to us as Christians. If we seek the government for help in any situation concerning the Faith, we may wind up on the losing side, since world governments are hostile to the truth.

What I want to focus in on is the fact that there were two groups of people in Paulís last few days. There were those who did not forsake him because of his imprisonment and there were those who did forsake him and did not want to identify with him. We all have them in our lives but they do not become manifest until you are unable to run with them anymore. If you become disabled or sick and unable to be part of the Church routine anymore, you will find out who your true friends really are. When you first become sick or disabled, you will find that both groups will equally call on you but eventually, the ones who only like you if you can run the church gamut with them will fade away, in other words forsake you. It is really a divine filtering process because you will know at some point who your friend really is and committed to the true Gospel. Christians who forsake Christians because of a malady are just proving they are walking in the flesh.

A minister friend of mine sent me an e-mail and told me that his pastoral ministry was coming to an end because the district superintendent deemed it necessary because of his health. He had bypass surgery some time ago and is fine now, yet he is being penalized from ministry because of a physical problem he had months ago. This is the unfortunate situation in Christianity, if you are sick, even for a short time, they canít wait to replace you. As far as I am concerned this is nothing but forsaking of the brethren. Now there are definitely times when a person has to be replaced in public ministry, especially if they have a debilitating condition which will not improve but a temporary condition should not be used to replace someone.

The Apostle Paul was in prison and he was asking the brethren who were reading the letter that they should not be ashamed of him for being in prison. Paul was in prison because of his stand for the Gospel. Under the great persecution of Nero, Paul was beheaded for the cause of Christ. When a Christian suffers for being a Christian, then those that know him or her, must never forsake them. Even if a Christian goes to jail for doing something wrong, they shouldnít be forsaken. Unfortunately worldliness and its tenets have invaded the minds of Christians. The world throws away its seniors and herds them into retirement communities and they are deemed to old for any use. Younger church leaders should be beckoning these senior saints for guidance in church affairs and should be tapping them for the years of wisdom they possess.
(Prov 16:31 KJV) The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

It was in March of 1986 at Americaís Keswick Corporation Prayer meeting that I overheard two senior saints speaking about the heresy of Hort and Westcott and the new bible versions. This was my first contact with the truth about the modern versions. Then I had written contact with another senior Saint named Dr. David Otis Fuller who helped plant my feet on the right ground concerning the King James Bible. Now 18 years later, I am able to write and publish articles for the rest of the Christian world on the dangers of the new versions. All because two senior Saints began the process of opening my eyes. When I first became a Christian at the age of 27, I had my first Bible study with a group of men much older than myself. I learned some great things and it propelled my bible learning.

How many churches today spend thousands of dollars annually for upkeep to their churches so they continually look good and have the best of everything, yet, how many disabled Christians are forced to sit home on Sunday morning because they canít manage the many steps, the size of the church, the location of the bathrooms, etc. Churches may offer handicapped parking spaces but that is as far as they go. There is a church in my neck of the woods which takes about 25 steps to get up to the sanctuary from the parking lot. Oh there is a front entrance on the sanctuary level but how can a disabled person move their car to the lot if they come by themselves? Do you see the dilemma? If they have a parking lot committee, they should offer valet parking for those who need it. After they get out of the car, let the parking lot person park the car for them, lock it, and then bring the person the keys. There is ways that you can help the disabled come to church but because they are the outcasts and the most useless ones in the congregation, why bother? They probably canít give a lot anyway since they might be on Disability.

At my own church there are only 2 Handicapped parking spaces and when the question was bought up at the annual congregational meeting to place a few more spaces, the maintenance man, with the strong body and good legs got up and stated that they could not tie up all those spaces because they have Bible conferences there. Did he ever think that maybe there might be handicapped people coming to the conference too or you can place a secondary sign on the pole and state that these spaces must be accessible on Sunday. Wouldnít that be simple? I just hope that maintenance man doesnít become disabled and run into someone like him. He who has ears to hear!

Just a personal word about this subject. Since I became disabled last year, many people have told me that they are praying for me and that is much appreciated because I believe in the Lordís appointed time, He will heal my right leg through surgery, therapy, or a miracle. That brings up a question in my mind. Why do Charismatic churches have handicapped parking places? I look forward to the day when I can once again walk and do the things I need to do. The prayers will be answered in the Lordís specific time but up until that time, the prayers donít help with the housework, they donít go shopping for me, they donít do the laundry, etc. Do you see what I am saying? This goes for anyone who is disabled in your congregation. Are you praying for them or are you praying and helping? A vast difference! Make sure your prayers do not have a double motive, in that you are praying that the Lord sends someone else to help them, when you know you can. No one says it is a lifetime commitment to be a helper but once in a while a phone call to see if there is anything they need from the store could be in order, especially if you are going there anyway.

Sometimes a Christianís disability or sickness is also a testing program for the people they know. God will use a personís situation not only for them, but for the people they know. He will test their reality as a Christian. Think about this for a minute. If an unbeliever like Mother Theresa can work in the ghettos of Calcutta, how much more should those Christians who live in a clean country like the USA be willing to help other believers? I thank the Lord that there are two brothers who have helped me out during my ordeal. One comes 150 miles round trip to cut my toenails on my right foot because I cannot bend down and reach them. Another one helps me with my Air Conditioners and asks me if I need anything to just let him know. Before I was qualified to collect Disability, a sister sent me many hundreds of dollars to help sustain me. Before Disability, I didnít work since December 2001. Incidentally, I have never even met this sister face to face. Another brother has sent hundreds of dollars for the support of the website, without which the website would probably have gone off the Net but we just crossed one million page views instead. Talk about being committed to the Lord!

In conclusion, when it comes to the disabled and sick people in your congregation, donít be like Phygellus and Hermogenes who forsook Paul because he was suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Disabled people in the congregation have many difficulties to face each day but the worst thing they face is the loneliness from being forsaken. If your church is able to build a really great handicap accessible sanctuary, the Lord will bless that congregation. After all, which one do you want to hear?

(Mat 25:45 KJV) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.


(Mat 25:40 KJV) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.    (6/11/04)