February 21st, 2011 at 9:59 am
I met a gentleman one fall day two years ago named John. He was trying to walk down a slope on his way to donate baby items to the Texas Baptist Men’s Child Care Unit. The actual unit was at our retreat, and we were taking our items to the people who helped children during a crisis. He was unsure of walking down such a steep slope – but he was determined that his items were going to make it to this actual child care unit. We finally made it to the unit. This was truly a joyful and worshipful moment as he realized he could make a difference to children.
Now John is now one of my prayer partners who prays for Vacation Bible School, his church, his family and his friends.
By the way, did I tell you that John is an adult with special needs? His transparent and godly attitude helps others see Christ through him.
I also met an artist. His name is Lee, and he is a creative genius. In fact, he has created cards that are being sent all over the United States. He works on these cards all year to proudly share them with his friends. Right now, he is busy creating logos.
By the way, did I tell you Lee is an adult with mental challenges? His godly creativity and willingness to share helps others see Christ through him.
I met a teacher. Her name is Melissa. She loves preschoolers and loves to teach. Her church has trained her to teach preschoolers. Every Sunday she teaches an activity on the preschooler’s level that helps them know that God loves each one of them.
By the way, did I tell you that Melissa was oxygen deprived at birth and will never be considered “normal”? Her caring ways and godly actions help others see Christ through her.
I met a church. The DNA of this church is to accept individuals with mental differences. They have a Bible Study with wonderful leaders who know and love each of their class members. They teach Biblical facts and life changing examples of how God cares for them individually. This class then worships with the entire church body because they are valued as participants in life’s journey.
By the way, did I tell you that the church is a valued core of its community? This body of believers demonstrates God’s example of extending a non-prejudice welcome to individuals with special needs.
Here are four examples of bodies of believers who are investing, valuing and cherishing individuals with special needs. These individuals with special needs are changed because of their time. Doors are open in all of our communities to minister to families who have special needs. What is your church doing to minister to these families? This could mean the following:
- assisting teachers to know how to help our friends be included with their age groups in Bible Study
- creating a Bible Study
- educating the “normal” church members to accept people who are mentally different
- accepting the diverse sounds that are made
- loving individuals with their unique looks
- raising the awareness of children to accept others who are different
All of these godly individuals have made a difference in my life because I have seen each one of them being used by God. This willingness is the reason why every church should look beyond differences and invite families with special needs members to worship with them. Individuals with special needs are real and are in your community. Do you see them? Have you met them? It’s time we see Christ through them.
For more information about Special Friends Retreats held by Texas Baptists or about how to begin a Special Needs Ministry, contact Diane Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org.