In the last four months, one significant and concerning trend I’ve noticed in social media conversations among ministry leaders has been the uptick in the need for suicide information. Reducing mental illness stigma and prevention are the techniques with the most impact. Here are some other approaches that may help.
As I spent much time on bended knee, tending to this little girl with her endless needs, I experienced deeper worship than I’d ever known. I often found myself at the end of my own strength and skills, and I learned to depend much greater on God. Without a spoken word, she’s taught me more about Jesus than any sermon I’ve ever listened to.
I often say that my son Joel, who has autism, has been the greatest spiritual teacher of my life. The lessons haven’t always been easy, and sometimes they’re not clear until later. But year after year after year, Holy Spirit knowledge pours forth from this young man and blesses all whose eyes and ears are open and receptive. And that includes his church.
Keep listening to the voice of God as you ask: What gift has this person been given by God that might benefit those around them, and especially the Church? A person just being present is a gift to those around them. Who are we to judge who can and cannot have a relationship with God, or who can and cannot serve Him?
When I think about the scripture that exhorts Christ-followers to number our days correctly, I kind of get the meaning backwards. I think about things from a natural human perspective, when what I really need is God’s perspective. The verse isn’t so much about the volume of what I accomplish, but the quality and the purposefulness of what I do. It’s also what I let ministry do to change me. Without anyone reminding me, do I actually see the personal dignity of every person?
As a young mom of four children, two of whom have disabilities, including severe intellectual impairment, I ask God tough questions. I imagine many ministry leaders wonder some of the same things I do, but fear asking. It’s natural to wonder and it’s okay to ask. It’s in wrestling with such questions, pressing into Jesus in prayer and exploration of His Word we not only find answers but gain a deeper understanding of who Jesus intended the Church to be.
Whether Mother’s and Father’s Days are acknowledged as part of your church’s worship service or not, we’re wise to recognize the state of mind and emotion present in adoptive and foster parents and their children on these days. It’s important to recognize and express sensitivity toward each member of these families.
How can each follower of Jesus pursue justice for people with disabilities? We see in David a paradigm when he meets Mephibosheth. In 2 Samuel 9, we see David exemplify three simple practices that can help combat injustice and inequity for people with disabilities.
I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that the prayers and time spent seeking God determine the outcome of ministry and special events. Everyone working in the space of special needs or mental health ministry needs to stay prayed up, in God’s Word, for guidance, wisdom, and protection. Make no mistake, the work of all special needs ministry, including ministry to and with people whose disability is revealed in behavior, is very much intertwined with the battle over whose life holds value. Anyone working in this space is on the front line of the battle between darkness and light.