Opening Doors to Work Together in Mission

Tuesday, 21 February 2023 Opening Doors to Work Together in Mission Marlies serves as SIM Australia’s Disability Engagement Coordinator. In her role, Marlies provides support to mission workers or their children with disabilities. For example, she provides advocacy and works with them as they navigate some of the challenges that arise in moving to a different culture. She 

People with disabilities matter to the Lord, so they should matter to us! The Lord wants to see people with disabilities reached with the Gospel and He also wants them to be part of reaching the world for Christ. 

When we talk about disability and mission, we can distinguish different areas. Firstly, we have ministries for people with disabilities. In many countries where we serve, people with disabilities are stigmatised and marginalised by society. This is where the Gospel message can speak hope into the lives of those that experience disability. As the Church, we can show them God’s care and concern. This biblical and often counter-cultural way of relating to people with disabilities is a powerful witness of God’s love for them. SIM has projects in Asia and Africa that seek to show Jesus’ love in this way, including a SIMaid project to support people with disabilities in West Africa. 

Secondly, we have become more aware of the difficulties people with disabilities experience when they want to serve in mission. In my role, I support SIM Australia mission applicants and workers seeking to serve God faithfully in cross-cultural missions. For example, I helped a SIM family that moved to the field with their daughter with Down Syndrome. The support enabled them to navigate some of the initial challenges they encountered. In another case, I’m helping a family think through how autism may impact them when they transition to the field. My colleagues from Member Care look after the well-being of our mission workers. Coming alongside, I help identify local resources and provide training on autism for the receiving team to better understand the family as they minister together. 

And finally, I seek to raise awareness and advocate for people with disabilities. In 2010, the Lausanne movement challenged mission organisations to facilitate the missional call of people with disabilities. However, many organisations find it hard how to do that practically. We can be unaware of the challenges people with disabilities face. By putting this “on the agenda,” I hope that we can create greater awareness of these challenges and remove at least some of the barriers experienced. 

Including people with disabilities within our organisation is an expression of being a diverse community – which is one of our core values. And by including people with disabilities in our cross-cultural ministry, we model our message. We embody it. We live it out. Wouldn’t that bring a smile to God’s face?
TALK TO US: Do you want to serve in cross-cultural missions? We all have a part to play and you can find out how you can take the next step by talking to one of our Mission Mobilisers. Visit or email
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