Make every child–regardless of ability or disability–feel welcome in your children’s ministry.
The Real Me* by Joe Bishop
Don’t just see my legs not running; Don’t just see my hands not writing; Don’t just see my mouth not talking; These broken pieces are not me.
See instead the light in my eyes; See instead my loving soul; See instead my thinking mind; These inner pieces are the real me.
*This poem appeared in the July 2001 issue of Exceptional Parent Magazine; www.eparent.com.
My passion for investing in children like Joe began in 1992 when I became children’s pastor at a church with an exciting ministry to children with special needs. Supervising that amazing Royal Hearts program of 25 children ages 2 to 15 changed my life. When their regular teachers were absent, my husband and I gladly substituted. The class met on Wednesday evenings to allow parents to enjoy a support group or Bible study at Rose Drive Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California. We quickly discovered that these special children loved doing everything a regular class did but needed a little more help…and more hugs, laughter, puppets, music, and fun!
Two years later, the special needs ministry at our church took on a new perspective for us. A precious little girl with Down syndrome became a part of our family and Jessica won our hearts instantly. We soon realized that Joe, Jessica, and children like them don’t always find a warm welcome at church.