This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a Christian Music Festival about 45 minutes from where I live. Four days of my favorite music and thousands of other Christians really encouraged me. But nothing impacted me as much as the words of a speaker there.
A prominent theme throughout the festival was the ministry of Compassion International--an organization that helps people sponsor children with material (and spiritual) needs around the world. While talking about this ministry, the speaker--Bob Lenz--got on the topic of the poor and how many people consider them a burden or inferior to society. He went on to include those with mental disabilities in his examples of how cruel some can be to humanity. Then he told a story that really caught my attention. I bought a T-shirt afterwards that summed up what it was about. The front says "T4-Hitler was wrong" and on the back it reads "Every Life is Worthy of Life-Bob Lenz."
T4 was the abbreviation for an address in Tiergarten (a borough of Berlin) and the name of a program instituted by Adolf Hitler from 1939-1941. During that span of time, Action T4 oversaw the murders of 275,000 people...lives that Hitler deemed "unworthy of life." These lives included adults and children of various nationalities. Many of them were pulled from mental asylums. Many of them were pulled from their families.
For a short while, those in charge of the program got away with the killings, leaving their loved ones with no word of the victims' whereabouts. The adminstrators justified their actions with euthanasia. They claimed mercy killings were the patriotic thing to do; they freed up space, money, and energy for soldiers fighting in the war. Society would no longer be "burdened" with taking care of the now-victims.
The truth was that Hitler wanted to rid the world of those he saw as "unfit for life." His policy of racial hygiene did more than affect countless Jews and Gypsies, it exterminated those with deformities and both mental and physical disabilities.
WWII was over and done a long time ago, but the issues behind T4 still live. In America, 4,000 babies will be murdered today. How long before our nation's elderly and those with special needs are treated the same? How long before people use mercy killings as an excuse to rid society of those they call a burden?
God calls us in Proverbs 31:8-9 to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Individuals with mental and physical disabilities are not disabled in every way. They are enabled to do the incredible things that God prepared for them in advance to do. They need us as their advocates, as do the poor and needy.
*It took just one messed up person to murder 275,000 lives. It can take just one humbled person to save that many and more.
"If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." ~2 Chronicles 7:14
Never forget...Every Life is Worthy of Life.
In His Hands,