Six months into my research project, I read the parable in Luke 14 and realized the lame and blind, people with disabilities, were the people that God seeks out and welcomes. I arranged a visit to Fresh Wind Fellowship that I knew lives out this call to welcome the Disabled.
Freshwind Christian Fellowship is a small charismatic congregation in Abbotsford, British Columbia, the heart of the Canadian Bible belt. In a town where churches are ubiquitous, this congregation stands out because individuals with physical and mental disabilities are a central and celebrated part of their church.
Fresh Wind meets in a nondescript storefront tucked away in a strip mall. As soon as you enter, you know that this is not your typical church. The back rows are full of people in wheelchairs. The worship band starts up and the space remains alive with noises, from the murmurs of children to the vocal utterances from some of the “residents” or disabled individuals. The congregation members do not appear to be affected by the cacophony and are engaging with the worship by sitting, standing or raising their hands. When it’s time to greet in the middle of the service, members wander amongst wheelchairs hugging residents or welcome a group of guys with Down’s Syndrome or autism.
Fresh Wind is distinctive in that people with disabilities are not just tolerated but are celebrated for their unique contributions.
Members describe how God often uses people with disabilities more powerfully because they live out of a unique purity of heart.
Here’s the story of how this church got started…