Pastoral ministry to persons with disabilities: a critical investigation of how the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church can be a safe space for meeting the needs of persons with disabilities (PWD) in Harare, Zimbabwe.
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The subject on disability is complex, especially when addressed from a theological perspective, bearing in mind that Judeo-Christian teachings have the dehumanisations of Persons with Disabilities (PWD). The Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) is a Pentecostal church in Zimbabwe. As such, the pastoral ministry and theology in the AFM emphasises divine healings, miracles, signs and wonders for believers. Thus, the space of PWD and how PWD either connect or benefit from this Pentecostal heritage is critical to this study. Accordingly, this study is aimed at investigating the role of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) in addressing the needs of PWD. The first objectives of this study was to examine the lived experiences of PWD in Harare, Zimbabwe. The second objective was to explore the engagement of the AFM church with PWD. The third objective was to establish an appropriate theological response to PWD in the AFM. The study uses the models of disability as its theoretical framework to both interpret the findings of the study and inform the analysis of data and place the study into perspective. Consequently, this study employed the qualitative research methodology and the data was collected through in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observations. The sample group were three pastors and chaplains, and twenty one PWD. This study, examines the AFM responses to disability from an empirical perspective. The results revealed emerging themes such as accommodation, employment, abuse, education, stigmatisation, mobility challenges and the expectations of PWD from the Church. As such, this study advances deconstruction and reconstruction of an appropriate theological response to meet the needs of PWD. In conclusion, the study was not undertaken to merely expose the needs of the PWD who are members of the AFM by exploring their lived experiences, but also to develop an appropriate theological response that the AFM could adopt. The thesis will argue that the stewardship theology of disability offers a fresh theological approach to influence and impact on the lives of PWD. The study urges the AFM to show compassion and recognition towards PWD as well as treating them with dignity.