Spiritual Gifts Assessment Results
Top 5 Spiritual Gifts
- John 10:1-18
- Ephesians 4:11-14
- I Peter 5:1-4
- Acts 14:22
- Hebrews 10:25
- Romans 12:8
- Luke 14:28-30
- Acts 6:1-7
- I Corinthians 12:28
- Titus 1:5
- Acts 16:14-15
- Romans 12:9-13
- Romans 16:23
- I Peter 4:9
- I Corinthians 2:14
- II Corinthians 11:6
- I Corinthians 12:8
- Colossians 2:2-3
Look, He’s covered in dirt
The blood of His mother has mixed with the Earth
and she’s just a child who’s throbbing in pain
from the terror of birth by the light of a cave
now they’ve laid that small baby
where creatures come eat
like a meal for the swine who have no clue that He
is still holding together the world that they see
they don’t know just how low He has to go
Look now he’s kneeling He’s washin’ their feet
though they’re all filthy fishermen, traitors and thieves
now He’s pouring his heart out and they’re fallin’ asleep
but He has to go lower still
(John 13:1-17; Matthew 26:36-46)
There is greater love to show
hands to the plow
further down now
blood must flow
(John 15:13; Luke 24:44-49 )
All these steps are personal
all His shame is ransom
oh do you see, do you see just how low, He has come
do you see it now?
no one takes from Him
what He freely gives away
Beat in His face
tear the skin off His back
Lower still, lower still
strip off His clothes
make Him crawl through the streets
Lower still, lower still
hang Him like meat
on a criminal’s tree
Lower still, lower still
bury His corpse in the Earth
like a seed, like a seed, like a seed
Lower still, lower still
(Matthew 26:67-68, 27:28-31; Mark 15:21-32; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:31-42)
Lower still, lower still…
The Earth explodes
she cannot hold Him!
And all therein is placed beneath Him
and death itself no longer reigns
it cannot keep the ones He gave Himself to save
and as the universe shatters the darkness dissolves
He alone will be honored
we will bathe in His splendor
as all heads bow lower still
all heads bow lower still
(Matthew 27:50-53, 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20; Isaiah 60-61; Philippians 2:5-11)
|—||Clark Carter (Dean of Students)|
vindicate my unworthy essence. nothing may be new, daily. but if nothing ever was, what purpose would/did all this serve? in part: service goes beyond pitiful arrogance claimed at birth and beyond. the time spent introduced many ideas: 1) that there is much work (both physical and spiritual) to be done, but it can be done 2) that it’s more of an opportune privilege, less of dreaded duty 3) either i’m clueless and inadequate when it comes to leading young children or young children are difficult to lead/supervise/teach 4) unity may take time to achieve 5) washing feet can be enjoyable 6) preparation is key, collaboration is key, prayer is key, experience is key, leadership is key, diligence is key, rest is key, patience is key, purpose is key, etc. 7) being a light can simply mean living as one; does not need to always be verbal discipling 8) calls can come quickly, at any time whatsoever, and are extensive, time-wise 9) there is no question (no more doubt) on the subject of provision (however, defense mechanisms/other junk are relentless and obnoxious) 10) actually following through and obeying after immediate understanding of what was expected was presented is necessary, worthwhile, and truly valuable. plus several more.
flownsouth my purity of mind has,
THE ‘WHY DO THEY CALL IT NUTELLA’ SUPER BOWL QUIZ FOR CASH
1. Who will win?
2. Who will lose?
3. What will the score be?
4. Who will win the coin toss?
5. Will that team chose to kick or receive?
6. Who will be winning after first quarter?
7. Will the two minute warning before half be at 2:00 or less?
8. Which team will call the first timeout?
9. Will there be any injuries during the first half?
10. Who will be winning at halftime?
11. Who is providing the ‘entertainment’ for the halftime show?
12. Will the camera crew show an athlete weeping before the day is done?
13. What would your mother say?
14. Which team will have more rushing yards at half?
15. Which team will have more passing yards at half?
16. Which quarterback will have more completions at half?
17. Which running back will have more yards at half?
18. What is Alex’s IQ?
19. Which team will receive kickoff at start of 3rd quarter?
20. Which team will score first in 2nd half?
21. How many field goals will be attempted in the 3rd quarter?
22. Where did Jean Marie Hall graduate from college yo?
23. Which team will have the lead at the start of the 4th quarter?
24. What is the next date daylight savings takes place?
25. Who will be MVP?
26. Who will cry like a baby for not getting MVP?
27. Who will finish their entire sub/hoagie/grinder/sandwich first?
28. Will the game go into overtime?
29. Will the game not go into overtime?
30. How many sacks will there be?
31. How many turnovers will there be?
32. Who will be in next year’s super bowl?
33. Why are there people with psychological disorders?
34. What would you do for property/power/prestige?
35. What defines a generation?
36. Who won the first super bowl?
37. What is your favorite thing to do?
38. What is your favorite band/musician/alien?
39. Why do you do what you do?
40. Who won the pro bowl last week?
41. Will either team have any timeouts remaining at the conclusion of the exhibition?
42. How many super bowls will there have been after this one?
43. What sport does Kerry like most?
44. Where was plutonium ‘discovered’?
45. What was the first sentence Ethan Housing ever muttered to FH5?
OSTENSIBLY WELCOME: EXPLORATORY
RESEARCH ON THE YOUTH MINISTRY
EXPERIENCES OF FAMILIES OF
TEENAGERS WITH DISABILITIES
Amy E. Jacober*
The Journal of Youth Ministry 2007 Vol. 6 Number 1
*Amy E. Jacober, PhD, serves as Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Youth Ministry at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
They are the first generation of “teenagers with disabilities”
not “disabled teenagers.” This change in terminology reflects a hope
that these young people can be welcomed like any other teenagers,
rather than excluded because of their disabilities. There are
millions of teens with disabilities in America, and the number may
be growing. In a report to the board of Young Life’s Capernaum
ministry to teens with disabilities, C. Sisneros noted, “there are
more than 54 million Americans with disabilities and 26 million of
those have a severe disability. Of this number, more than 8 million
are under the age of 18. The population of disabled young people
has steadily increased and is projected to rise dramatically over
the next 10 years due to teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse,
environmental factors and advances in medical technology which
has increased the rate of survivors aft er an accident” (Sisneros,
2006). Sisneros’ report was based on a study done in 2004 by the
National Organization on Disability teamed with Harris Survey
which documented trends within the disability community in the
United States. The 2000 census data revealed that “one of every
twelve children and teenagers—5.2 million—has a physical or
mental disability.”(Cohn, 2002) On the high end, there may be as
many as 8 million persons with disabilities under the age of 18. On
the low end, there may be 5.2 million with disabilities between the
ages of 5 and 20. The diff erence in these fi gures may be explained by
the methodology used in each study, or by a combination of factors
infl uencing the fi nal data (Stern, 2000). In particular, those counted
in the fi rst study included children between birth and age 18 while
the second study looked at those between age 5 and 20. Despite
uncertainty regarding the exact number, it is clear that there are
millions of children and adolescents with disabilities in this country
and the number is on the rise.1 There is no definitive research stating
exactly how many teenagers with disabilities or families with
teenagers with disabilities are present in youth ministries, but there
is a growing discussion about the absence of these teenagers from
many youth ministries.
There is a need for more and better information regarding
adolescents with disabilities and issues surrounding faith. We
are missing an entire community by not striving for inclusion.
Where intentional ministry for those with disabilities does exist, it
is transforming not only the lives of individuals with disabilities
but their families and communities as well. Scuccimarra & Speece
(1990) report on the quality of life two years aft er high school for
young adults with disabilities. They found that the most frequently
cited activities (meaning they occurred 1-4 times each month) for
an individual with a disability was watching TV (100%), going to
a movie (90.6%) and finally, going to church with family (63.1%).
Hobbies, sports activities and hanging out with friends were listed
and valued but occurred with much less frequency. A Christian
community that provides an authentic welcoming environment can
be a positive force in their lives.
Who among us will speak up for the teenagers with
disabilities and their families? As professors and leaders in youth
ministry, our job is varied and covers a great deal of territory. Among
our topics are theology, culture, development and pedagogy. Many
intentionally seek to consider marginalized people. Adolescents with
disabilities are among those marginalized, yet they have received
little consideration in our field.
Personal experience with family friends began this research
journey. A few years ago a family friend was venting to my mother
at work. Both she and her husband were very involved in their local
church, including playing piano on many Sundays and helping
with the kids choir for years. When their daughter joined the first
grade church choir, they were told aft er a few weeks that she could
not return. She was a little girl with Down’s Syndrome and those
in charge of the choir simply did not know what to do with her.
Music was important to the family and their little girl loved it!
She sang in the car on the way to school and with mom and dad
at home. She loved Jesus and choir was a time to be with other
kids her age in a mainstreamed atmosphere. Heartbroken for their
daughter, lamenting seemed to be the only thing left for the parents
to do. It was that year that I joined first grade choir. Once in awhile
intervention was needed. For the most part, I sat on a little tiny chair
in the back of the room and was simply a presence allowing their
daughter to join with other kids and praise God with all she had!
The following summer I worked at a camp in Glorieta,
New Mexico. We had over 1,000 teens one week. Typically, if there
was a special needs teenager, we knew ahead of time. That week
however, we had two teens in wheelchairs and one who, in his own
words, described himself as a dwarf (a male 16 years old just over
three feet tall).2 By chance, one of the young men in a wheelchair
and the young man who described himself as a dwarf ended up
in the same group. They were scheduled to do the ropes course,
climbing wall, mega-relay and a host of other activities with no
previous modifications. Several adjustments were made with the
input of the teens and their leaders. Perhaps the greatest picture of
accomplishment that week was when the two boys partnered for the
mega-relay. One, not having the legs to run as fast as the others and
the other, not having the upper body control to reach into a bag for
the task, decided to work together. One boy sat on the lap of his new
friend and they flew down the field on an electric wheelchair and
won that round. The young man who described himself as a dwarf
said that week was the first time he could remember not feeling like
a waste of space.
This experience on the heels of a year in first grade choir
led me to wonder why there were not more teens with special
needs at camp, in our churches and youth groups. Were these kids
such a small percentage of the population that they really were
proportionately represented or was the church missing the boat?
I started looking around and asking questions. I simply
began asking my friends in youth ministry if they had any students
in their youth group or club with a special need of any kind. I
then moved to ask if they were any teens with disabilities in their
churches, even if they were not involved in the youth group or club.
The answer over and over was no. At best, they would know of a teen
but would say the family had decided youth group wasn’t a good
fit. At other times the youth leaders were skittish admitting they
had no idea of what to do with a teen with a disability and didn’t
want to hurt or off end anyone by making a mistake. I have even
had a colleague say there should be neither specialized discussion
nor training regarding teens with special needs as there is no job for
a youth pastor who focuses on inclusion of teens with disabilities.
While I hope that this attitude is the exception not the rule, such
comments reveal that our youth ministry focus is not yet for all
teenagers. Years have passed and questions turned to conversations
which turned to research. There is an entire community now
interested in many of these issues. While that is encouraging, there is
still much work to be done to raise awareness of these issues and to
change attitudes among those who work with teenagers in ministry.
The primary purpose of this study was to discover the
experiences, in their own words, of families with special needs
adolescents and their interactions with churches, church programs
or youth ministries of any variety. A second purpose was to
explore issues, raise awareness and create interest in ministry with
adolescents with special needs and their families. Finally, it is hoped
that this research will stimulate future research and improved
practices with those in the disability community. The definition
of special needs was intentionally left open allowing each family
to explain and define their own situation in their own words. It
includes physical, mental and emotional disabilities. There is a great
deal of research regarding adolescents and disabilities but little
from a ministerial perspective. A few studies mention the spiritual
dimension from a secular perspective (McNair, 2006, Fitzgerald,
1997). Hoeksema (1995) summarizes some of this research, “In
recent years more is being learned about the religious dimensions of
life for individuals with developmental disabilities…For example,
those with mild mental retardation will learn more faith concepts
and be more interested in why people act like they do than will those
with moderate mental retardation. The latter may be less questioning
and more interested in experiencing a sense of ‘belonging’ to a group
(Schurter, 1994). It is also known that people with developmental
disabilities express their beliefs in the same variety of ways as
do individuals in the general population (Luckasson et al., 1992)
and that religious beliefs and values help to guide their moral
behavior (Coulter, 1991).” Literature on ministry to individuals
with disabilities tends to focus on ministry with younger children
or adults (Pierson, 2002, Pierson et al. 2004). One notable exception
is the Through the Roof Disability Summit where Jeff McNair
(October 2006) presented research on “Helping teens survive and
thrive: Strategies for teens and young adults with disabilities.” The
fact that research studies on adolescents with disabilities and their
participation in youth ministry are all but non-existent indicated
that exploratory research was warranted. Rather than approaching
the topic with a hypothesis and questions in hand, the issues first
needed to be identified. Before seeking to provide answers, we first
need to know what questions should be asked about this population
and its relationship with the churches. Given the number of
adolescents with disabilities, the number of families connected to
these teenagers and the lack of teenagers with disabilities active in
our local Christian ministries, we have a great opportunity to reach a
generally neglected community and join God in loving His children
in this world.
This study made use of grounded theory (Mark, 1996,
Glaser, 1994). The parent or parents of 17 families impacted by an
adolescent with a disability were interviewed in Seattle, Washington,
San Jose, California, Phoenix, Arizona, Denver, Colorado and Beuna
Park, Colorado. Several dozen additional families and teenagers
were interviewed less formally offering insight and suggestions.
Each family having at least one professing, believing parent was
considered a household professing Christianity. Interview subjects
were obtained through a snowball sample (Vogt, 1999). The
interviews began in 2004 and were completed in 2006. In accordance
with the IRB and guidelines for Human Research, each participant
received a full explanation of the research, the opportunity to decline
participation and received a copy of the agreement they and the
interviewer signed offering further explanation and future contact
information. Interviews were conducted at the home or other
requested location designated by the interviewee. Due to the nature
of the interviews, it was determined that the most comfortable and
convenient location for the interviewee would be best rather than the
most neutral location. On one hand, acknowledging the possibility
of contamination of the responses by the familiarity of the setting
the choice was made to err on the side of ease for the interviewee.
Each participant agreed to the interview and for the interview to be
recorded, understanding that in the final presentation, no names
would be used. Each interview was recorded, then transcribed by
a professional transcriber. While each interview was comprised of
the same questions, the interview length varied from 25 minutes to
nearly 2 hours. The length was determined solely by the brevity or
verbosity of the interviewee. The interviews generated 280 single
spaced pages of transcription.
This study was intentionally and explicitly emergent. No
specific hypothesis was tested or proved. A literature review took
place early in the study to inform and educate the researcher.
Suggested readings stemming from research for the project will
be located at the end of this article in Appendix 2. The specific
questions asked of interviewees were developed in cooperation
with Dr. Jennifer McKinney of the sociology department at Seattle
Pacific University, seeking to prevent leading questions or seemingly
desired responses. Concurrently with data collection, note taking,
coding, memoing and re-coding took place. Core codes and subcategories
emerged. These have been considered to the point of
saturation allowing the data to raise major issues to be more fully
considered. The literature was then reconsidered and new literature
discovered. There is relatively little literature on adolescents with
disabilities compared to studies that discuss either children or adults
and disability. Even less literature deals with theology, adolescence
and disability. As a result, articles were chosen that related to the
topic at hand even if not directly about adolescents.
Many common themes arose through interviews with
parents and guardians of adolescents with special needs. With
280 pages of transcriptions, the quotes are more plentiful than
what is offered here. The goal was to make provide a readable and
provocative list of responses without being overwhelming. The
quotes below have been categorized by those themes which arose
in greatest saturation. Several sample quotes have been included
to off er glimpses of what was said in the words of those interviewed.
The quotes are pulled from larger responses and full interviews.
They are direct quotes from responses to questions in interviews.
Consequently, these quotes include sentence fragments and, at times,
a string of incomplete sentences which make up an entire thought.
The choice to include the quotes as stated was intentional. This is
a group of people whose voices are not oft en heard. Introductory
commentary was kept to a minimum, allowing the voices of those
living this reality to speak for themselves.
A Desire to be Seen and Heard
The most overwhelming theme in the interviews was the
feeling of being ignored, and overlooked. Family members believed
that the community of faith made little or no attempt to engage their
child. The interviewees expressed a longing for their child to be
heard, and/or to be heard themselves, preferring the possibility of
offense rather than living with invisibility.
There is a sense of frustration and heartbreak among parents who
see that outsiders think that all teens with special needs are the same
As with any adolescent, the questions of “who am I?” “where do I
belong?” and “do I make a difference?” loom in their lives. Parents
desire for leaders to ask about their child, to get to know what makes
him or her unique and to discover that beyond the disability lies a
human being with a personality who has been created in the image
My child is a child, NOT a disability…
But anyway, as far as training ministers to work with special
needs kids, I think the first and most crucial hurdle would be
helping them to really get a sense of the specific condition that
the child faces and all of the consequences, or at least some of the
consequences of that, for the design of programs as well as for the
sort of family context and milieu.
When you say special needs, like that’s one thing, but every
individual has something different.
You can’t imagine the sense of alienation that you feel from other
people in the church and society as a whole.
I think to just take the time to notice them. Our kids are not
invisible but sometimes it seems they are. It is hard, and it is even
hard for me as a parent to be around Joyce’s peers at school, other
special needs peers, to step out and try to relate to them because
they are all different, the way another Downs kid relates is different
than her. It is a little scary, you feel kind of dumb because you don’t
know how to talk to them but when you do you take the time to sit
down and figure out what their communication level is and where
to reach them, it is pretty cool, and it takes an effort, it took a while
for them at camp to figure out where Joyce was coming from but it
just takes some time and you have to sit down and do some one on
ones and figure it out, just see them.
I think probably as the parent of an adolescent you just want your
child to be included.
Experiences with Church and Parachurch Ministries
The majority of families are overwhelmingly gracious
when speaking about churches and ministries. Many recounted the
church’s initial support when they discovered their child would
need special attention as an infant or small child. They go on to tell
how the support and sense of community drops off steadily as their
child gets older and are essentially non-existent by adolescence.
Some of the families still attend church but are no longer involved in
Bible study or other activities. Some of the families have left church
altogether as a result of experiences with ministry as it relates to
their children. Every family mentioned at least one if not an entire
community of families impacted by a teen with a disability who are
Christians but cannot find a place to worship with others let alone
a ministry that would actively care for their child. Every family also
mentioned sharing Christ with families like theirs, but not knowing
how or where to invite such friends to church for fear of how they
would be treated by church people. Interestingly, most families
placed no blame on the churches, ministries or ministers. Rather,
they simply said the church was no different from the rest of the
world. The parents made excuses for leaders saying they knew their
child would take too much time, too much effort and that busy youth
pastors simply could not take the time to meet the needs of their
child or family, though their dream is that they would.
There were two notable exceptions. The first is a buddy
program mentioned repeatedly where a partner is paired with
the teen with a disability allowing a parent to be free for adult
socialization and support and the teen is allowed a bit of freedom
within boundaries. The second was the involvement of teens in
Capernaum, Young Life’s ministry for teenagers with disabilities
where club, campaigners and camp all occur for those with minor to
severe disabilities. The leaders in Capernaum get training to ensure
a safe and developmentally appropriate ministry with the teens.
Society has stigmatized disability, but the church should be different.
“’Just the expression of people with disability has been constructed
negatively within the dominant communicative discourse, so too
has the experience of disability been constructed negatively within
a dominant paradigm which is essentially materially based and
extroversially oriented’ (Fitzgerald, 1997). Religious settings, if
they are reflecting their basic teachings, are the antithesis to such a
position” (McNair, 2006).
I also think, bless the little workers, they had no training… they
didn’t know what to do and still to this day they have no training
on childcare, you know, blood born pathogens and washing your
hands aft er the diapers and all that kind of stuff but I never heard
of them saying, “what can we do?”
He did go once to a church camp, our senior pastor’s son agreed to
be his buddy and so that did work but the youth pastor never got
back to us and try to pull us in or him in and do any connecting.
I think there is just a big hole in most churches, I do, and I know
that there are some churches that have some things going but I
think in general, the things that I have just read in magazines and
publications, of things that just come to me, is that there is a lot
of things that are misfortunate, there are a lot of kids with special
needs that are sitting at home from church and not going because
they can’t manage their child in church, they don’t go and so they
don’t grow. The thing is it takes knowledge and understanding,
but it takes…churches are suffering, ministries are suffering, to do
the work that needs to be done in churches, so it is like, I am sure a
pastor would say we need this and this and this and it is not on the
Well, when Jorge was born I had to realize that subconsciously
I had thought that God would protect us from those kinds of
situations, that he was going to be who we wanted him to be. I
spent probably the first three years of his life asking why. Why
this? Is it something we did? The full gamut. At the time we
were going to a more Pentecostal church, a more praying church.
People would come and pray for him all the time, they were very
supportive. I am quite sure that God intended for Jorge to be
healed. So that was kind of hard, to the point of asking us to bring
Jorge up front to church several times. I had a word from the Lord,
“He’s going to be healed, he’s going to get up and walk,” and
that hasn’t happened yet. And Jorge would brighten up, he could
understand these things. And then afterwards – this is very hard
for me – he expected something and was disappointed, because his
eyes were really bright. And when he sees that it’s not going to
happen, his face falls. That kills me.
I think the evangelical church is almost spiritually starved to be
sensitive to what we are talking about. I have been helping to raise
some money for Joni Erickson Tada who is training churches now
on how to welcome people with disabilities and she did a survey
of thirteen thousand southern California evangelical churches
and found only 23 out of thirteen thousand had programs that
intentionally welcomed people with disabilities. There is a huge
opportunity for the family of God to get a hold of this.
The church that we go to there are a couple of women there that
used to do special ed. that have approached us, “What do you want
for John as far as Sunday School?” The building was not set up
until just now. They put in an elevator and done some remodeling
so he can get up to the Sunday School… Selfishly, also, I guess I
want to listen to the service and be part of that.
We tried a few churches aft er we moved in here, but nothing ever
felt right, no where we were able to connect there, the Bible study
groups, they were not particularly welcoming, no problem because
we wanted Joyce to have a spiritual experience and young life
(Capernaum) became it and the Catholic church would not baptize
her, they would not recognize her as a human.
They did not have a place for her to be involved in Bible study. You
know when she was little it was fine because they would put her
in an age appropriate class where she could do pretty much just
activities and she didn’t want to sit and talk about her experience
with God, it was hard for her to be able to communicate that.
So I tried to look and every church I called, and I asked “Is there a
place for a special needs child?” Every year as he got older – 10, 11
– there was not one church that I found that had a place for special
needs kids. And it was just a matter of getting him connected
with the church, getting him with our background, not one. And
there was no one that asked, there’s nothing there? And that hurt,
because then I had to switch and I had to find a place for him. For a
social normal life for a child with a disability you don’t find it, and
that killed me because I could not believe that with all the programs
we have for the poor and rehab for drugs and you get in trouble,
criminals, there’s places, there’s rehab, but for someone with a
disability in the church, there’s nothing that would have a child
with disabilities and stay connected and get taught about Jesus or
All the people telling us what to do, strangers calling. We had
parents with kids with Downs telling us what to do because we had
doctors telling us that we had five days to consider aborting her. It
was a horrible five days. And the interesting thing was that we had
Christians advising both ways, which was interesting. The biggest
help was, and the thing that we learned through the whole thing
was, when someone goes through something like that you need to
listen. The biggest thing that you can do is listen to them and love
them and most people said to us… one couple left the church, but
everyone else basically said we love you, the questions loomed what
am I going to do with this pregnancy… whatever we decide we are
going to love you, we might not agree with you, but will love you.
That was the biggest help.
I spent those days crying in the driveway. And I had wished that
the people who we trusted, and that were our friends, and that
were part of our ministries at church would have reached out to
us and that didn’t happen. And I do not know if they didn’t know
what to do, how to do it, or they just didn’t want to get involved or
whatever because you could share your heart and ask for help and
we got the little standard, I will pray for you, but it wasn’t really
an action. That hurt us.
But when we hit junior high, the junior high program was about
three hundred kids and there was no small group breakout except
for middle of the week program. But on a Sunday morning it was
a huge, large group thing, it was very chaotic loud, and no point of
connections for her, no one would come and talk to her other than
the adults and we just realized that was not the right place for her.
It caused us to move to a new church because pretty much this was
how high school worked at this big church too.
[We go to school] chapel once a week. And the people don’t know
what to do about Ben. People I know even from our church that are
there, ignore me. I know it’s not because they are shunning Ben
– Why do you have him here? – It’s just that they’re surprised,
they’re not prepared for it, and they don’t want to enter into
interactions, so they just avoid it. And I think, here’s a student
body of Christian kids who don’t have any exposure to the
handicapped – nothing. They don’t stop and talk to him.
When Robert was getting to be the right age I approached him [the
youth pastor] once and asked him if Robert could go to camp if I
could find a helper for Robert and he had a very negative attitude,
he didn’t think we realized Robert would need a little support,
he never did get back with me, I think he might have been going
through his own personal stuff and maybe it was bad time for him
but he never did get back with me and would like to try it out with
When asked what they wished their church offered, parents reply,
Robyn prays, I mean she really prays…I think an additional
benefit is the kids that are in Bible study get to see and experience
Robyn… and learn acceptance and learn… what a great lesson
right there, God made us all different, no one is any better than
anyone else… And to, facilitate that relationship building between
the kids and Robyn so when it is time if, ever for Robyn to go to
camp they just see Robyn for just seeing Robyn, that is my wish
for Robyn, for people to just see her for who she is.
The Sunday school teacher’s nephew and actually said that she
would not teach if she had Robert in her class and I just remember
really feeling hurt, and instead of saying can we get someone else
to help her, we would like to support you, …so we ended up just
stopping going to Sunday school, we did not have a place for him,
Sunday school was not a particularly welcoming place with regard
to youth group Sunday school …actually if someone would have
come alongside and said we would love to have him in Sunday
school even if he does not understand, I will be his buddy he would
have been fine and he learned a lot, he really is a high functioning
guy so we kinda stopped going to Sunday school because there was
not a place for him during that hour and we would just keep him
in church with us and that is what we have done.
Faith issues for the parents and families came up again
and again in interviews. These issues fell both on the positive and
negative ends of the spectrum. At times parents expressed having
been drawn closer to God in times of need and confusion. Stated
equally oft en were questions about whether God hated them or even
existed. Too oft en, parents expressed lament over not having anyone
that they could go to for help or guidance in this journey. Deep
theological issues were raised throughout the interviews with many
parents having given much thought to the place of God in their lives.
One of the things I had to deal with when I was somewhat younger
in all this was I found myself hating someone, hating my daughter,
at one level…and also feeling like because of her my life was
ruined. Now, that wasn’t her fault, it was my own immaturity
and stupidity, shortsightedness and all that stuff . And I worked
through some of that, but it’s not easy to admit to yourself that
you feel angry at someone who can’t help being sick. Because if
you admit it you realize you’re behaving like a monster, but if you
don’t admit it you’re still behaving like a monster because you
haven’t let yourself acknowledge your own monstrosity. I think
that’s a spiritual issue that people who are caregivers of others
involuntarily have to wrestle with.
There’s a challenge when you’re from a low church, believer’s
baptism tradition, as opposed to liturgical infant baptism tradition.
Because it does raise a problem if you’re in a baptistic tradition
there’s a point at which a child will accept Jesus and they’ll get
baptized and at least in some measure be a part of their volition
and development. And with a clearly disabled kid it becomes
problematic. Now if you’re Catholic or Episcopalian it’s not
quite so bad because you’ve got the whole liturgical tradition,
baptizing infants – you know what I’m saying. So for most church
baptistic traditions those kind of issues do become problematic.
Jorge’s teacher, who goes to our church, has a now adult 22-yearold
daughter who has hardly any mental capacity. Partly at the
urging of a family friend, we had a baptism service. And of course,
everyone was okay with it, but the fact is she can’t do the things
that you normally would do. A profession of faith, an explanation,
she can’t do any of that. So there’s a certain awkwardness and
defensiveness, and it was more private too. It wasn’t done in the
church, it was done in the home. So for those traditions there are
a separate set of problems that come up because of theological
understandings and liturgical understandings. If you ever talked
about youth ministry to special needs kids you have to deal with
those things. You need special units on… But even with many of
the liturgical traditions, they sprinkle infants, but then they have
a confirmation process or profession rite of passage, and then those
become issues for special needs kids as well.
He’s taught me that souls are important and bodies are not. We
really don’t have much control over our circumstances.
Probably the most important spiritual faith issue that comes out
of having Jorge seems to me is that Jorge makes clear that spiritual
truth about the human condition is mostly hidden from us, and
that is that we all are extremely disabled, and it’s visually obvious
with him. I look at you and I don’t see an obvious disability, but
you’re as disabled as Jorge is. You have extraordinary disabilities.
This is true spiritually, of course, we know this, but we don’t give
it the kind of credence that we should.
Inside you feel inadequate, that people are watching or people are
looking or people are talking about you behind your back. But I
think for the most part, people have really, really tried. I know
when we were going to Calvary Chapel I had brought him to the
elders because I just wanted to know if there was any kind of
generational curse from my father or my brothers that it would not
be passed on to my son. And so, and my sisters and I had already
prayed before we got married that any generational curse would
not be passed onto the next generation. So I really believed that and
so then we get married and have a child and it is like, eeek!
It does definitely make you more compassionate, aware of people
with other disabilities and challenges. It makes you more aware
of people on the margins, it slows you down, it makes you
realize…that the goal is not productivity but fruitfulness, and that
performance doesn’t always equate to productivity, that there are
a lot of people in this world who are not able to produce a whole
lot, either because they are taking care of kids or dealing with their
issues and things. And that’s OK. As much as you talk about
worth being found in Christ, this underscores it: Your identity
is in Christ and not in what you do or not of what your kids are
capable of doing.
I just remember one day when we were getting ready to go and she
was going to have the surgery, I was just praying in my head, not
a real spiritual prayer, but I was talking to God, “I hate putting
my daughter’s life in the hands of this man.” And the Lord spoke
to me and said, “You’re not putt ing her life in his hands, you’re
80 The Journal of Youth Ministry
putt ing her life in mine.” And I was like, “Hmm, OK.” And there
was one surgery, it was just a risky surgery, and this one had more
risks than any of them. I got to the point where I was afraid to pray
because I was afraid of the answer, and I kind of came to a point
where I knew for my faith to be strong, I had to truly pray that
“God, I want your will.”
[Are you able to recognize if it (Young Life Capernaum) has done
anything for you spiritually?]
Oh yeah, it has brought me back to the person I was in many
ways, the personal relationship that I have always had in the back
of my head with Jesus and it has blessed me, it showered me with
gratitude with what Joyce has now. And how she has become close
to Jesus, I just think it is so important and fundamental to who
we are now. She has reached that level. Many people go through
religious training and don’t get it.
Most parents naturally wish for a solid group of friends for
their child, or at least one good friend. More than any lament over
grades, missing sports activities, or even clear verbal skills, every
family mentioned a strong desire that their child have a friend,
though this desire oft en results in heartache. Parents want someone
not merely to tolerate or baby-sit their child, but a real friend. These
parents know their child is created in the image of God. They know
what their personalities are like, what kind of ice cream they like,
what songs make them move and what makes them mad. They long
for others not to politely smile and walk by, but to listen and talk
with their child. They long for someone to get to know their child
so that he or she can have just one other person to share secrets and
dreams and hopes just like any other teenager.
[Mom] just wants her to have a friend, we actually see more of that
at public school than we do at church
And the hard thing about Steven being a teenager is that he’s still
a loner, he’s still alone, but I think I’ve accepted it and have tried
to teach him, “This is the way God made you. There is nothing
we can do about it.” I can’t put him in a special needs program,
because there’s none.
He told me many years ago when he was about 7, he said that “as I
get older you’re going to be the only friend I have.” I didn’t believe
him, because I think “No, let’s see what the Lord does.” But it
ended up being true.
Probably biggest thing in his life and our life is we were really
used. to a lot of kids in our house and activities and involved in
our own youth groups in our church. And our(other) kids just
had a lot of… it was a huge change for us, we kind of become the
handicap parents but Zach did not really have friends until, he
had people that cared for him, a lot of adults that loved him. There
was one boy that invited him to church when he was younger
and people just didn’t quite know what to do with a kid with a
disability, school and special ed, have their own communities and
we happened to be in a neighborhood that was changing anyway
didn’t really have friends, he used to sit and look at the floor and
say I want a friend, it broke our heart
Lane [mother] just wants her to have a friend. We actually see
more of that at public school than we do at church, and I don’t
think it is because of the five days a week. Well I shouldn’t… well
it probably is. I just want her to have a friend because it is hard for
Lane to be her friend right now all the time. We do not want people
to just be nice to her, because there has got to be people that just
Mark knows everyone at church and people are wonderful to him.
They really love him. He goes and talks to the kids who are his age
and we sort of let him do that. He goes and tells them about what
he is doing this week and whatnot but I don’t really know what
is going on in their head. Are they thinking that they wish Mark
would just go away so they can go back to their friends?
What they wished others knew
There is a strong sense of what parents wished others knew
but felt they could never say. Parents felt they would not be heard,
believed they needed to be polite or simply could not find the words
to describe the absolute joy and struggle that their lives were. They
longed to be included, to be asked about their child, about their own
lives, to be asked almost anything. Many parents felt that others
assumed they should ask for help when needed but the parents were
tired of asking and even more tired of asking and being given trite
responses and no help. They wanted to be asked and offered actual
help not just a wish or promise of help that did not come. Even more,
they wished people could know their precious wonderful child; that
a child with a disability still had thoughts and feelings and dreams
and experiences just like the rest of us. They wished that others
could know their child as they did to catch even a glimpse of what
it means to be created in the image of God in a way not typically
But anyway, as far as training ministers to work with special
needs kids, I think the first and most crucial hurdle would be
helping them to really get a sense of the specific condition that
the child faces and all of the consequences, or at least some of the
consequences of that, for the design of programs as well as for the
sort of family context and milieu.
I never have felt that I should expect anything from anyone.
Whereas the next parent next to me with a disabled child is the
opposite of that. Saying, I need this, this, this, and that. Because I
have a harder time doing that, I find myself to those other families,
going up and saying, can I do this for you? Do you need support
for your son or daughter? So for me I wished people would ask
more questions and if I need support rather than just waiting for
me to come and ask. That is probably the main thing.
I wish that other people would know that they have feelings, that
they deserve the right to be heard, that time is important. I really
wish that there was a place for them in church more, even the
activities that they do with the other church groups, they don’t
have any activities for the kids with special needs. That would be
one of my biggest things, I really wished that the church would get
more involved. It’s not an easy thing, I realize that more than you
know…but we put all our efforts and strength in other things, why
I would like to emphasize that if you’re thinking about youth
ministry, it has to start with the individual and work out rather
than program working. It has to be so individualized. And it
would be best done by people who are interested in the handicapped
I was talking to a pastor about this the other day. I think in terms
of training, I think any seminary or Bible college or any school to
send people in the ministry, especially youth ministry, I think they
need to spend at least a year doing some sort of ministry with kids
with disabilities. I think that should be mandated because to say
it is not important is not looking at youth ministry as important.
And if we are looking at youth ministry as important then you’re
missing a whole population that you are called to serve…I think a
lot of times pastors get the part about the widows and the elderly,
but they don’t even see sometimes that there are kids and young
people living in that same type of environment as the elderly. And
I think if you’re going to put people out there ministering, I think
you allow them to see that perspective. It changes the way that
they think. And if you change the way that they think then things
happen, they don’t stay the same.
The statistics are just overwhelming and I think that churches need
to get on board because there are hundreds of thousands of people
who are un-churched because they do not know what to do with
their children and so they choose not to come to church because they
do not think that anyone is there to take care of them and that can
help meet their needs so they choose not to, and that is unfortunate.
If we are going to reach that people group we are going to have
to provide the support that those families need. And I am one of
them and I am even more of an advocate because I am one and I do
not want other families to feel the same way that I do or have felt,
so I am not going to sit around and complain, I am going to do
something about it.
One of our sayings – we have several that we quote back and forth
to each other – is people are clueless. By that, hear me, people
cannot imagine what it’s like to care for a special needs child. They
cannot imagine the psychological toll it takes, they can’t imagine
the physical toll it takes, they can’t imagine the expense…if not
the expense, the effort it takes to get the insurance companies and
the government agencies to pony up…I think using something like
a rough proportion of the severity and obviousness of a handicap,
and in our case, the severity and the obviousness is very dramatic.
So even when people are making an effort to be kind, inclusive, and
encouraging, they simply can’t imagine what it’s like.
It’s actually kind of sad, like sometimes, if you pass people and the
kids look, and they say “Mommy!” and they start asking their mom
questions, and the mom goes “Shhhh! Don’t talk about it. Pretend
like you didn’t see it. Keep going.” I kind of feel like people are
creating a sense in their kids like maybe something is wrong. But
anyway that’s all.
I am much more inclusive, I would make it a really inclusive group.
When Joyce first started to get into and begin to understand from
a personal spiritual point of view her faith she became a virtual
spokesman for what spirituality really was and we would say
things, they were so deep, so heavy, so beautiful that it just showed
me and anyone else who would listen, these people are 99.9%
normal people and their goals are rich with the love of spirituality
and they will make some of the best members of church that you can
get because they are very devoted and they will learn the principles
of the kindness and love of the church so well but that they are the
same as we really are, it is just a little mask, it fools up.
Impact on Family
The responses about family tended to fall into two categories.
The first and most prominent response was that the special needs
child became the focus of the family. Even in families who could
discuss issues such as the identified patient and knew that creating
a focus on one child to the neglect of their own relationships or the
needs of their other children was wrong, they simply did not know
how to circumvent this issue. At the other end of the spectrum were
families who simply refused to allow their child with a disability to
be the center of their lives. They spoke of Christ, of each other, of the
family as a whole being the focus and intentionally tried to never
speak of their child with a disability as the center of the family.
Another thing that I think Charlotte [mother] made clear but I might
highlight, is that having a child with multiple disabilities makes you
a home-centered family more than you would have been otherwise.
This is true for just about everyone in the community of disabled
Another one of my sayings is that the handicap inhabits the child but
it belongs to the family. The whole family…you aren’t fully defi ned
by it, by the child’s condition, but you are severely impacted by it at
levels that most people who have not grown up with a special needs
child can’t comprehend.
We agreed the day we realized Marisol was not developing like the
other kids that she would not become the center of our world. Jesus
had to remain at the center. Not Marisol, not our other kids, football,
school plays, each other not even church. Jesus was our center and
while some would criticize us for choices we’ve made to keep our
spiritual lives healthy, we believe that if we are healthy we are better
care givers to our daughter.
Our kids are interesting. The older brother wants Nick around, he
helps with Nick a lot, helping. He comes to him and talks to him and
plays with him, it’s so sweet. The ten year-old girl, Sarah, really
doesn’t want to deal with it too much, and will vocalize…she’ll say,
“I don’t get enough attention. Mom, I need some attention.” And so
we talked about that last night when she was going to bed. At least
we’re aware of it, but she’s had to play second fiddle.
Even with our family, they didn’t want to see anything wrong with
her, our extended family. She was a beautiful baby, a beautiful girl.
Always, people would stop to comment about her because she was
very tiny and dark-skinned. They didn’t want to believe that there
was any mar on this little girl.
I remember my husband saying, we do everything right, we go to
church, we don’t smoke, we don’t drink, we don’t do drugs, you
know, why us? And you do, you feel like you were almost picked on
and you don’t realize right away that it is a blessing and we were
the chosen ones for a reason and that He actually trusts us with this
very incredibly unique person. It took a while to appreciate that,
because all you look at are the challenges and the big questions.
Joyce has a grandmother who loves her to death and she had a
grandfather who loved her to death. And she others who right away
said you could not possibly have come from our side of the family
who have dissed her since the beginning. My mother dissed and you
always hear that stuff that you lose some friends, family when you
have a person with, and I did not believe that to be true and another
thing that had come to fruition is there is a very higher (sic) number
of developmentally disabled kids who have in their particular family
but they are usually attended by one or the other parent but not by
both. That the dominating scene is that the mother usually takes
care of this child and father pops out and there is a huge amount of
divorce in developmentally disabled families like 75 percent. It is
horrible. It is part of what you accept, oh okay it happens. So it is
different community in that way than normal community.
You know, you may not be the typical family, but you are
“normal.”? Because you kind of feel like the Addams Family. I’ve
used that analogy before when I talk to people…you know, the
Addams family and the Munsters. We’re actually more like the
Munsters than the Addams Family because if you remember the
show, the Addams Family looked normal but they were actually
odd. The Munsters looked absolutely bizarre, but they were a
typical, normal family and that’s kind of where we’re at.
Without exception, every interview subject mentioned
issues within the marriage. Overwhelmingly, the majority spoke of
the strain on their own marriage with many ending in separation or
divorce. Even if guarded in speaking of their own marriages, the
interviewees spoke openly of the prevalent divorce rate and pressure
within the families of the disability community. A few however,
offered a different perspective discussing how this drove them to one
another and strengthened the marriage.
His father is in Florida but he does not want a child that has
anything wrong so we do not hear, see, or have anything from him.
We really pulled together, we really did. The biggest time of pulling
together for my husband and I was right aft er Zach was born. My
husband is phenomenal as far as being a dad. I am very fortunate
because a lot of marriages do not make it. A lot of dads pull away
and can’t handle it. For us it was good.
And our marriage, John tries to be home…he can speak for himself,
but he works and makes the money and helps a lot with the other
kids, and with Ryan. But because I’m with him during the day
because I don’t work much – very, very part-time – I end up doing
a lot of the care and being closer, emotionally. Lots of admonitions
from people, especially outside the family that say, “Make sure you
still have time for the marriage.” I don’t do very well with that.
We were told when Jorge was born that only one out of five
marriages makes it, and I think I’ve seen that. There are lots of
single moms in Jorge’s classroom.
My husband had a hard time with it. He could not accept that
there was anything wrong with Scott for many years. That was
a battle in itself because I knew that he was different, but trying
to convince my husband, he wants him to play baseball and be
normal. I tried just to deal with where my son was at, that was
very hard for my husband…(and for us)
Suggestions for Further Research
The purpose of this research was to determine what
questions even needed to be asked about ministry to teens with
disabilities and their families. This research was narrow in scope
in that it considered only the perspective of a parent or guardian
and not that of the teenager, the minister or any others who may
be involved. This research could be considered broad in a different
way in that there was no single answer being sought. Although an
initial attempt was made to categorize responses, many of the quotes
could easily fall into more than one category. Were someone else to
consider the raw data, the themes might diff er. Nevertheless, the raw
data were clear that these themes were among those present. As a
result of coding the responses, many new research topics have been
identified. Among these are the impact of intentional ministry on the
spiritual lives of teens with special needs, the impact on the spiritual
lives of families who have experienced intentional ministry for their
teen with a special need, the impact of a special needs child on the
marriages of Christian couples, barriers, present and imaginary,
in the life of a church considering ministry for teens with special
needs, success stories and lessons to be learned from churches
and ministries currently ministering to teens with special needs,
potential approaches and methodology for sharing the gospel with
a special needs teen, physical adaptations to make youth ministry
more accessible for the special needs teen, and the impact on the
spiritual life of a youth worker involved in intentional ministry for
special needs teens to name a few. Still other research topics could be
gleaned from the interview responses listed in this paper. This is a
field which is wide open and in need of research to help the church
be all it has been created and called to be.
Ideally, this project will provoke others to consider
researching and conducting youth ministry with teens with
disabilities. Listening was key both in the hours of interviewing
which took place and in coding, memoing and recoding the resulting
transcripts, and will continue to be important in these future efforts.
Jeff McNair offers a picture of what our goal should be as we seek to
improve the church’s response to people with disabilities:
Christians have to want persons with disabilities
in their homes and in their lives. The names of disabled
congregational members should be known to their children.
Not because of some syrupy sentimental notion that their
children will gain something (though they may), or that the
disabled members will in some way justify their existence
through their presence, their words or their actions. Rather,
it is because individuals with disabilities are people worth
getting to know. People with disabilities are not that
different from people without disabilities. The church of
Jesus Christ above all needs to learn this, and then perhaps
as Dr. Hauerwas dreams, “be seen in the future as a people
who have learned how to be with the mentally handicapped.” I
pray for that day. Christians must out human the humanists
Suggestions for Youth Ministers
Rising from the interviews and research are a handful of
concrete steps to take in order to move this conversation forward.
Many of these things are simply common sense but somehow seem
to get overlooked. In conversations with youth pastors not involved
in ministry with teens with disabilities, a common remark was
either that this is not an issue in their ministry or they were afraid
of hurting a child or family by making mistakes. The following are
suggested starting points only. Wisdom and much prayer are needed
when working with teens with disabilities. Additional education, in
particular regarding issues of safety, is required. However, the task is
not impossible and is more achievable than most think.
• See and seek teens with disabilities in your community.
• Remember they are first teenagers, NOT a disability who
happens to be a teenager.
• Do a little research and learn how many teens with
disabilities live in your community.
• Don’t be afraid to ask teens questions about themselves.
• Ask parents about their child, their child’s disability and
their own lives.
• Talk with special ed. teachers and read anything you can
find on specific disabilities as you meet teens with those
• Remember safety is first priority for any parent and teen.
• Become an advocate for teens with disabilities and their
• Expect things to take longer and plan accordingly.
• Use a buddy system for a teen with a disability.
• Utilize small groups as they are remarkably helpful.
• Do not worry or be afraid of how much a teen with a mental
disability is or is not getting your message about Jesus. Your
job is to share Jesus, not to determine what they are or are
• Adapt your programming and activities to truly include
teens with disabilities; don’t just allow them to observe and
call it participation.
• Find ways for each teen to participate authentically in special
programs in ways they are able, such as reading scripture in
the Easter pageant or carrying a banner in at Christmas, etc.
• Educate your leaders, volunteers and entire youth group on
issues regarding teens with disabilities.
Teens with disabilities are more alike than different from
typical teenagers. When we can finally realize that, many barriers
will be knocked down. This is not to say there is no special education
or training that youth workers need, rather, that it is possible. Just
as we need to recontextualize our ministry when we move across
the country, or from a suburban to an urban sett ing, we need to
reconstruct our ministry so that we consider all teens and see them as
God would. If we are going to say we are called to youth ministry, do
we really mean all youth?
The benefits of a ministry which includes both typical
teens and teens with disabilities are priceless. They begin to live
in community, a goal that many youth ministers try in vain to
achieve through hard hitting lessons and mission trips. Teens with
disabilities and their families add a genuineness that is unparalleled
and force us to all come face to face with what it means to be loved
and saved by grace in spite of our lack of anything worthy to off er
God to earn this position. We are results-oriented, oft en functioning
as though we must earn God’s attention or even His love. Individuals
with disabilities teach us a different way of being. They are choosing
faith community membership and participation for the benefits
received, spiritual and otherwise (McNair, 1993). Inclusion of
individuals with disabilities results in a variety of benefits to the
community itself (McNair, 2006). Including a teen with disabilities in
a ministry will change it forever for the better.
When asked what she would say to church leaders and
youth pastors about ministering to her son and other teens with
disabilities, one mother expressed the aspirations behind this
research and hopes for its impact.
That everybody is a gift from God, every single person regardless of
their ability level deserves to be a part of their church and it is the
church’s responsibility to meet those people’s needs. Not for them
to come to their doors but to go out and get them, to bring them
into the church. I really believe that. I don’t mean that you have to
drive your van all over the neighborhood and pick everyone up but
there is nothing wrong with going into the community and fi nding
out what the communities needs are and being able to minister to
people. Disability is not a scary illness, it is not contagious, they
need to have an understanding of what a disability is and that
whether or not they want to get involved, parents are involved
and they love their children regardless of what their ability is. The
child that God gave them is their child and they’re precious to
them and if they are going to meet the needs of the whole family,
it also includes that child with the disability. You are not going to
get a family to come to church unless you can do that and there
are hundreds of thousands of people that are un-churched because
we don’t meet their child’s needs so everybody in the family stays
home and I have said it many, many times, I have even showed this
statistic in our neighborhood. There are thousands and thousands
of families and when are they going to learn about God and how
are they going to do it if we aren’t the ones that go out and bring
them in? And then when they do come we need to provide services
for them, services that are appropriate and who knows what that
is but we need to hear it out and ask. If that means that we need
to get them a Braille Bible, we need to provide big screens or we
need to have a baptismal with a lift , we need to do whatever, that
is our job. And our responsibility as Christians is to be able to
do those things that bring those people to Christ. And I get on
my big soapbox but that is what Jesus did, he went out into the
community and met those people’s needs. He didn’t wait for them
to come to the synagogue, he went out and met them and he didn’t
meet the pretty people, he met the people with needs and every
single time he ministered to them and to their needs. That is what
being a Christian is, it is what the great commission is, that is
what we need to be doing and we need that whole people group that
are being unreached and untouched.
Much work needs to be done to move toward inclusion of
all of God’s children. The difficulties which inclusion may bring for
more “typical” teens and their families not to mention the workers
and pastors are real. Training and education, fear of doing more
damage than good and plain old weariness at yet another skill set
to be mastered are genuine barriers. Then again, it has not been so
long ago that the thought of ministry adapted for adolescents did
not seem like the best use of time and resources. By the grace of God,
that has changed!
- Cross, David
- T 6:00 PM-9:00 PM; Charleston Southern University, Norris Hall, Norris Hall 110
Our last day in Orlando went great! There is no way that I could capture in this blog all that happened today, so let me list a few highlights. We began Wednesday morning by splitting our group us into 2 teams. One team went downtown Orlando to work in a rescue mission. Jon Davis and Tam Odom led this team. We did everything from make beds and clean rooms for homeless families, serve food in the dinning hall, hang out with the children when they came into the shelter after school, and share our faith. It was incredible! The staff at the mission said that we were the harder working group that they had all year!
My team went back to Redeemer Church and handed out Easter postcards in a nearby subdivision for them. We also washed and detailed cars/vans for single moms and other members of the church. My favorite van that we cleaned was owned by a single mom who had 2 girls, one was 14 years old and in school and the other was in preschool. They had been raising a sheep for a Future Farmers of America club at school, so the back of their van was full of hay! We cleaned the van spotless and one of our students noticed that a break light was out on the van. We ran to the local auto store to find a replacement bulb, and we fixed her light for her. She was so appreciative. She told me, “What a blessing!”
Scripture tells us, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27, NASB) We did this and more during our trip to Orlando. Our students represented our King well. Saints were encouraged. People heard the Gospel. Widows and orphans were served. This was a successful mission trip indeed!
I want to begin by apologizing for our Mission Trip posts going up late. We are staying at a hotel that does not have WiFi, so this is really making it hard to for us to put up timely post.
Today was our “play day” on the mission trip. We went to Disney Studios and had a great time. The students said that they were amazed how much energy I had in the park. They were getting tired and I was going strong! For those who know me and my passion for all things Disney, this should not come as surprise.
While we laugh about my passion for Disney, I want our students to see a greater passion in me for serving the Lord and the people here in Orlando. Tomorrow is our last day here and I pray that the Lord gives me strength to set the pace in that area as well. I always want to be the first to serve and the last to leave whatever project we are working on. I think that it is important to model for our students the joy and satisfaction that comes from serving God and the people that He loves.
Our last day here should be especially challenging and satisfying. We are going to split our team into two groups. One will be serving at an inner city mission feeding the homeless and helping needy families. Our other group will be washing cars for single moms in the community, finishing some maintenance work, and handing out promotional material for the Easter Service at Redeemer Church.
I will give you an update tomorrow!
As we get ready for bed (it is 12:35 a.m. right now), I know that we are all going to be “cleaning” in our sleep! We cleaned carpets, washed and waxed floors, built crosses for the church’s Easter service, scrubbed and cleaned the outside/front of the church building, cleaned out and repacked a large storage unit, washed/waxed and detailed 2 cars…and I think that about covers it! Then, we had a little fun tonight by going to Downtown Disney.
Tomorrow we are going to a theme park to have some fun with the group (probably for about 13 hours)! I challenged our students tonight during our meeting time to “party like it’s 1999” tomorrow in the park and on our last day here, Wednesday, “work like it was our last day on earth.” By what I have seen from this group of students, I have every reason to believe that we will meet both challenges well!
Well, good night all. It is almost 1 a.m. and a fun day awaits tomorrow (I guess really today).
We overcame the time change and made it to Redeemer Church on hour early this morning. Our students enjoyed worshipping with the church and hearing Pastor Andrew share about what it means to be a “transformed church.” He shared from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 and mentioned that a transformed church is called to sacrifice, to share, and to serve. Needless to say, this message really resonated with our students.
Really, that is what missions is all about! We sacrifice time, energy, and resources to serve others. We share kindness, possessions, and time with those who need it. We serve selflessly, intentionally, and passionately.
After this morning’s worship service, we ate lunch, changed clothes, and went back to the church to begin the facility-wide cleaning project. We unloaded closets and removed clutter. We swept and mopped all of the tile floors. We moved all of the chairs out of the sanctuary and vacuumed the entire building. We even cleaned windows! (I know what you are thinking parents…”I wish I could get my kids to do that at home!”)
Tomorrow, we are going to begin shampooing all of the carpet and stripping and re-sealing all of the tile floors. We hope to finish the entire job by the end of the day. On Wednesday, we are planning to go downtown Orlando and serve at a homeless shelter there. Our students are excited about that as well.
That’s all for now. It is getting near midnight and time for bed. We will update everyone at the end of Monday!
Twenty two of us left Charleston Southern University this morning at a little past 9:00 a.m. to embark of the 2012 Spring Break Mission Trip to Orlando, Florida. (Jon Davis is going to join us after he finished preaching at his church tomorrow). After driving through some rain and passing a few wrecks on the interstate, we arrived in Orlando and were greeted by Andrew Oates, pastor of Redeemer Church – www.redeemerorlando.com. This is our second year of partnering with this new body of believers and we are looking forward to serving with them this week.
Since we were here last summer, Redeemer Church has been steadily growing. Last year, whe helped the church to renovate all of their Bible Study rooms. We did an incredible amount of work in only 3 days. This year, we are going to be doing more outreach project in the community, so pray that God opens many doors for us to share His name.
Well, it is getting late and we are going to lose an hour of sleep tonight (daylight saving time ends). So, it is time to go to bed. We will update you tomorrow. Have a great night.
edify me, O God. bring me to places of constant freedom from haphazard, pitiful struggles. allow me to remove myself from worldly standards for myself, to live in this world (for now) but be not of this world (for always). move me to see how i can be one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. then demolish my at times seemingly non-existent, but ever-persistent arrogance. you’ve placed me already in the appropriate environment for my needs and then some. direct me towards personal edification in all three areas (and then some). remind me not to be doubting and diminishing my sense of self now, but to be consistent in conversation and obedience and pursuit of absolute knowledge and application of such. please continue to surround me with (an exceedingly growing number of) people whose roles convey such crucial components to my transfer of everything. help me to be more of You, less of me, more of right, less of mistakes, more of (like) perfection=completion/fulfillment, less of unsuccessful=ineffective/gullible/lazy/disgraceful, more of l.e.a.d.e.r., less of selfish and unaware, more of devotion, less of wasting. can i be any more bossy? ill (probably/hopefully) do exactly what You tell me to do. even stevens that way?