Amazing things happen when we allow people with special needs to minister to others.
As I sit at my desk and write this, my younger sister Annette–a special needs adult–is parked in a nearby cubicle, helping our marketing team with a project. Well…she’s supposed to be helping. Co-workers keep popping by her “office” with cheery greetings, warm hugs, and even a soda! Most folks are sure to tell Annette they’re glad she could make it today, which is true because she’s usually too busy volunteering at church or a local senior day care to lend a hand around Group.
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Special needs adults, teens, and middle schoolers are a volunteering gold mine too–often overlooked. We pour time and effort into ministering to kids with special needs, but frequently forget that they have countless gifts to give. As special needs kids “age out” of children’s ministry, it’s important that we give them opportunities to feel like part of the body of Christ. Just like the rest of us, people with disabilities need to feel loved, valued, and important. We all need a purpose-special needs youth and adults aren’t any different.
In Annette’s case, all it took was a children’s pastor who was willing to take the chance and let Annette serve in the nursery during women’s morning Bible study. She trained Annette and paired her with a capable leader. Soon, Annette was a regular, smiling presence in the toddler class, then at local preschool, and today at a senior day care.
Those service opportunities way back in middle school have shaped Annette’s view of herself today. She knows that she’s a vital part of the body of Christ. She’s giving, sharing, and receiving God’s love every week. Just one incredible outcome of letting special needs people minister.
Jody Brolsma is the executive editor for Group’s VBS.