MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 3 /Christian Newswire/
Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA live with a chronic illness and about 96% of the illnesses are invisible.* Rest Ministries, Inc., the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill, an affiliate of Joni Eareckson Tada’s International Disability Ministry, is encouraging those with illness, as well and family, caregivers, and churches through their annual outreach event, National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, September 8-14, 2008.
This year the week features 20 workshops with well-known guest speakers who will be presenting and answering questions via Blog Talk Radio, September 8-12.
- Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship (Harvest House, 2007)
- Julie-Allyson Ieron, author of The Overwhelmed Woman’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents (Moody, 2008)
- Lisa Copen, author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Rest Publishers, 2008)
- Jennifer Saake, author of Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss (NavPress, 2005)
Lisa Copen, 39, founder of Rest Ministries says, “Since we began in 1997 we’ve found that despite the strong foundation Christians may have, illness can rock it. Feeling like no one understands how much your life has changed since a diagnosis can be more spiritually detrimental than the illness itself. It can make one feel isolated, misunderstood and even bitter.”
Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since the age of twenty-four explains why Invisible Illness week matters. “Those with illness do have to accept that other people aren’t going to ‘get it.’ Only God understands. But it’s nice to encourage peers and find strength in validating the mixed emotions. You don’t have to explain why walking twenty feet may be impossible some days.”
Rest Ministries extends their outreach about illness awareness to churches, providing materials to start up HopeKeepers groups, books, cards, tracts, etc. About 96% of those with illness may appear perfectly healthy on Sunday mornings, but may struggle to get out of bed the remainder of the week.
Ken Chambers, Director of Church Relations at Joni and Friends International Disability Center, says, “It is vital that Christians understand the emotional and spiritual trials of those with invisible disabilities, as well as those with visible disabilities. Rest Ministries is dedicated to educating churches to not only serve the chronically ill, but to involve them in the church body. I encourage church leaders to take advantage of the wealth of resources at Rest Ministries and to participate in the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.”
Get involved by joining the hundreds of people who will blog about invisible illness on September 8th, attend a seminar, or tell someone who has an illness about the event. Typically, people with illness are unable to attend a traditional conference, so a “virtual conference” is widely anticipated. All seminars will also be recorded and archived.
*Source: Chronic Care in America, U.S. Census Bureau