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Special Needs, Special Blessings
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Special Needs, Special Blessings


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  • Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image,   in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. “
  • There can be no separate church for those with special needs.
  • Disability - label shared by a diverse group of people who experience substantial difficulties in several major life activities: mobility, self-care, language, socialization, learning or independent living
  • People with disabilities do not want to be known by their label. The are so much more than their label and have many gifts to offer. Labels tend to conceal gifts.
  • People often don’t know what to say or do when they meet an individual with special needs. They don’t understand that people with special needs are more like them than different. People tend to fear what they do not know. Older generations were not exposed to people with significant special needs. They were often hidden away in institutions. Younger generations have more exposure due to educational inclusion efforts.
  • In our own spiritual journey - in the Word and our relationship with our Lord & Savior and the Holy Spirit - the goal is we become more Christ-like. Jesus was filled with compassion and exhibited love to those with special needs. He healed many and cured some but not all need healing or to be cured. They do need to know God, to hear His word and to feel His love. Let us be His hands and His feet. Let us show all the world His compassion and love.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Ministry with Individuals with Special Needs and Their Families
    • 2. Introduction
      • Who I am
      • Why this is my passion
    • 3. Child of God – Made in His Image
    • 4. Why We are Called?
    • 5. Why People with Special Needs?
      • Intentional part of God’s Creation
      • Psalm 139:13 RSV
      • For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb.
      • People with special needs are not mistakes!
    • 6. Why People with Special Needs?
      • Each one of us is unique, known by name, loved by the One who fashioned us…we don’t have to prove our belovedness or our worth before God.
      • Why should they have to prove their worth, their right to love and serve the Lord – in your church - with the gifts they have been given?
    • 7. Why People with Special Needs?
      • The Body of Christ is not complete unless people with special needs are invited to and included fully in our congregations.
      • “ And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee…Every member of the body has its place and is needed by every other member.”
      • 1 Corinthians 12: 21-26
    • 8. Who Are They?
      • Intentional part of God’s creation
      • Each with unique gifts and talents
      • Each with a ministry to fulfill on earth
    • 9. Who Are They?
      • Fully human with the same dreams, desires & needs
      • A temple for the Holy Spirit, bearing fruits of the spirit – and recipients of God’s grace
      • In need of salvation through Jesus Christ
    • 10. Who Are They?
      • 19% of the population.
      • 90% of families affected by individuals with special needs do not have a church home.
      • A marginalized part of society - Often lonely and isolated.
      • Seen and judged as without value in a society which values external beauty and earthly achievements.
    • 11. Why Us?
      • Left in the care of those who are paid to provide services – not necessarily to care about them.
      • The Church is lagging behind the rest of society in including people with special needs in our faith communities.
      • ‘ Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45 NIV
    • 12. The Call
      • Outreach is important but not the fullness of the call.
      • God wants us not only to minister to and with those with special needs but to bring them into our faith communities.
    • 13. What Stands In The Way?
      • Transportation issues.
      • Architectural barriers.
      • Liturgical barriers
      • Programmatic barriers
      • Attitudinal barriers.
      • They don’t feel welcomed.
      • Don’t feel accepted.
      • They aren’t invited to participate fully in the life of the congregation.
    • 14. How Can We Begin?
      • Prayer
      • Heavenly Father, Bless this journey into ministry to and with those with special needs and their families. Help us to let them know of Your love and saving grace. Direct us in ways which bring them and their gifts into our faith communities to faithfully serve You. In all ways, & all things, we ask you to provide us with the guidance we need & the resources to use to serve with them. Above all, may all we do glorify Your Holy Name. Amen.
    • 15. How Can We Begin?
      • Gain Support, Educate and Find Support
      • Gain the support of the Clergy and the Vestry/Bishop’s Committee
      • Educate others in your congregation about the need and importance of this ministry.
      • Recruit others to this ministry for outreach to the community and for support.
    • 16. How Can We Begin?
      • How much will it cost?
      • Sharing the love of Jesus?
      • Sharing God’s Word?
      • Integrating people with special needs into the fullness of congregational life?
    • 17. How Can We Begin?
      • A Team
      • A few others who share the call to this ministry to:
      • Pray with and for you
      • To brainstorm issues
      • To share the joys and difficulties
      • To share what you are learning and how you are growing spiritually
    • 18. The Ministry
      • What do we need for this ministry?
      • LOVE!
      • A few people with a passion for sharing the love of Jesus and serving the Body of Christ.
      • People to support the individual and family with special needs – an outgrowth of “typical” fellowship.
    • 19. The Ministry
      • The Individual with Special Needs
      • They want the same things you do when it comes to their spiritual lives:
      • Worship
      • Education/Spiritual Growth
      • Fellowship
      • Sense of Community
      • Opportunities to Serve
    • 20. The Ministry
      • Where are people with special needs?
      • Look inside your own congregation.
      • Community agencies
      • Outreach – getting to know individuals with special needs in community-based settings, nursing homes or other institutional settings, in your neighborhoods.
    • 21. The Ministry
      • Community – Based Settings
      • The “system” is not set up to network for clients to meet their spiritual needs.
      • Many are not comfortable meeting the spiritual needs of their clients.
      • Some professionals fear imposing their own beliefs on their clients.
    • 22. The Ministry
      • Community-Based Settings
      • People are employed to provide services and care for individuals with special needs .
      • They cannot be paid enough to care about the client.
      • The Church can fill the gaps in meeting the needs of individuals with special needs in a caring, inclusive community
    • 23. The Ministry
      • The Greatest Suffering
      • “ The greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, just having no one. I have come to realize more and more that being unwanted is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience. For all kinds of diseases, there are medication and cures, but for being unwanted, unless there are willing hands to serve and loving hearts to love, I don't think this terrible disease can ever be cured. ”
      • Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    • 24. The Ministry
      • For Children and Adults
      • Is an individual ministry – based on the needs of the individual and their family.
      • Diagnoses may be useful but not necessary.
      • Survey the needs of the individual and their family.
      • Consult them
    • 25. The Ministry
      • For Children – Create a Place for Everyone
      • Buddy – peer or adult volunteer
      • To assist in routines of the classroom
      • To assist with understanding lessons
      • To aid as necessary
      • Behavior issues – have a plan in place before the child arrives
      • Service opportunities
    • 26. The Ministry
      • Adults
      • Based on the individual needs of the person.
      • Consider:
      • Assistance in learning the church layout and facilities.
      • Assistance in the use of the Prayer Book & Hymnal
      • Assistance in understanding God’s Word and the sermon
      • Assistance in understanding the liturgy
      • Assistance in getting to know others
      • Opportunities for service
    • 27. The Ministry
      • Bringing People with Special Needs into Congregational Life
      • Invite them
      • A genuine welcome
      • Acceptance as they are - Love
      • Be receptive to their needs
      • Investment in the spiritual growth of one another
    • 28. The Ministry
      • The Family
      • The families of those with special needs should not be designing and supporting this ministry. They should only be used as consultants unless otherwise stated.
      • They spend much time and energy caring and/or advocating for their loved one with special needs.
      • This must also be a ministry to and for them.
    • 29. The Ministry
      • What Do Families Need?
      • They need love, understanding and acceptance for themselves and their child/relative with special needs
      • They have stressors beyond the family with typically developing children/relatives – frequent trips to various specialists, more frequent hospitalizations, frequent evaluations and therapies, behavior issues, dealing with the system(s)
    • 30. The Ministry
      • What Do Families Need?
      • Worship comfortably
      • Know their child/relative in Sunday School is safe, learning and valued
      • Respite
    • 31. Nuts & Bolts of Ministry
      • Confidentiality
      • The family of an individual with special needs should only be used as consultants to gain information that may be helpful, insights into the learning style of the individual or to help with behavior issues
      • Respect their right to privacy and the privacy of the individual with special needs
      • What you learn about an individual or family should only be shared on as need to know basis AFTER asking if the information can be shared to help the individual.
    • 32. Nuts & Bolts of Ministry
      • “ People First” Language
      • Sensitive issue
      • Never us the words
      • Retarded
      • Crippled
      • Crazy
      • Don’t use the terms
      • Suffers from
      • Afflicted with
    • 33. Nuts & Bolts of Ministry
      • “ People First” Language
      • Not:
      • The Disabled Boy
      • The Downs Kid
      • The Blind Man
      • Use:
      • Ben, the little boy with Cerebral Palsy
      • Charity, the little girl with Down syndrome
      • Art, the man with visual impairments
    • 34. Nuts & Bolts of Ministry
      • Or
      • Just use their name!
      • Labels conceal gifts and abilities!
    • 35. Nuts & Bolts of Ministry
      • Removing the Veil of Fear & Ignorance
      • Education
      • Many resources
      • Hospitality
      • Example
      • Show others their value through words/actions
      • Hospitality
    • 36. Nuts & Bolts of Ministry
      • You are going to make mistakes
      • Learn from them
      • Ask forgiveness
      • You efforts and love will make the mistakes negligible
    • 37. In Closing
      • Challenge
      • *From a woman with a disability:
      • “ Don’t pray for my healing. Don’t be presumptuous enough to assume in your prayers that I should become like you. Pray for yourselves, that you become aware of your own limitations as I have had to become aware of mine. Then we can become a community of faith.”
      • *Special Needs, Special Ministry by J. Pierson, L.T. Jones & P. Verbal
    • 38. In Closing
      • “ Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
      • Luke 14: 12-14 NIV
    • 39. In Closing
      • Christ has no physical body to work in this world – let us be His eyes which he looks with compassion on this world, His feet and His Hands to do His work on earth.
      • Attributed to St. Teresa of Avila
      • Jesus said “Feed my sheep.”
      • Not just those we deem worthy but
      • all of His sheep.