Friday, 6 August 2010

A PASTOR'S DISASTER


Most clergy are decent folks who understand about disabilities. Unfortunately, one man I met didn't. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here's how I was expelled from Vacation Bible School in July of 1968.

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The Lutheran Church held Vacation Bible School again. As in previous years, I expected the usual cookies and Kool-Aid as I walked through the front doors. Much to my surprise, an usher sent me to a small room, which I suppose was the pastor's study. I sat at a polished oak table with approximately six other boys my age. Our teacher was the pastor, a gruff, no-nonsense, older man who wore a grey suit. As soon as we were seated, he plopped large black tomes in front of each one of us.

"Open your Bibles to First Kings," he ordered. Not only was I unable to read that tiny print but I had no clue where the book was located in scripture. Sighted folks had previously read the Bible to me or recited the stories so I had no idea of how to look up verses or even that the Bible consisted of sixty-six books.

"Why aren't you looking up First Kings?" the pastor demanded.

"I don't see very good and I don't have a magnifying glass," I explained.

"You're just being lazy. Either look up that scripture or get out of my class. You're here to learn, not fool around."

I felt too shocked to object. Could not this man realize that I was unable to find that book even if I wanted to? My thick glasses alone should have shown him that I had vision problems.

When I continued staring at the Bible and not looking up First Kings, he pointed to the door and said, "Get out! You're disrupting my class. Come on. Out!"

I shuffled through the front door of the church with my head hanging, my heart broken, and a resolution never to return.

The assistant pastor stopped me as I walked toward the street and apologized. "He doesn't really mean to be mean. Please come back for the rest of the Vacation Bible School."

"No," I said as I tried hard not to cry, "I'm going home." Though he was a kindly man, I had quite enough of church and of unreasonable sighted adults.

My expulsion astonished Mom. "How could he expect you to look up verses when you couldn't even read the Bible?" she exclaimed. I felt comforted that Mom was on my side for once. As a result of that pastor's misjudgment, I never attended his church again except for Diane's wedding nine years later.

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This book, as well as When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), are available by clicking here or e-mailing me directly.