When my husband and I were in seminary, we had a little joke about being able to tell the missionaries from the rest of us. Missionaries were the ones who wore flip flops in January. They spent more time outside in the grass than in the library. If you went to their houses, you would probably have to sit on the floor. They didn’t want to acquire too much stuff before they went on the field.
The future missionaries had another unique quality: they felt a calling to a people group or to a specific place. Before they left the states, they studied the language and got to know the customs of the people they were going to live among. They made strategic plans to be at the right places at the right times to meet as many people as possible. They had a deep and genuine love for this group of people they hoped to reach with the gospel.
Guess what special-needs parent—you have been called to reach a specific people group too. You already speak the language. You already hang out in the same places. And God is probably growing in you a deep and genuine love for this group of people.
Your mission field is the doctor's waiting room. It's the support group you go to each month. It's the fellow parents in your child's class. Wherever you are, that's your mission field.
It is estimated that of the 7.1 billion people alive in the world today, 2.91 billion of them live in unreached people groups with little or no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Joshua Project, there are approximately 16500 unique people groups in the world with about 6900 of them considered unreached. (via Global Frontier Missions).
But David Platt, the president of the International Mission Board for the Southern Baptist Convention, says "There are no unreached people in your office or neighborhood—because God has placed you there."
I can't think of a group who needs the good news of the gospel more than special-needs parents. They are the exact type of people Jesus ministered to when He was on earth. The hurting, the desperate, the weak, the angry, and so often, the hopeless.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38
You can follow Jesus' example. Look around and see your fellow special-needs parents. Have compassion on them, the harassed and helpless. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.
Pray the Lord would use you!
Sandra Peoples (M. Div) is a special-needs mom and sibling. She and her family live outside of Houston where she serves her church as co-director of the special-needs ministry. She’s the author of Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family.