Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Judy was devastated and confided to her friend, Loretta Brown, “Kids with disabilities need to experience the love of Jesus too.” Instead of hoping someone else would help, Loretta acted on faith. Without knowing what she was doing, she received approval to start a class for children with special needs.
One thing Loretta did know was that every child needs to hear and know the love of Jesus. While the elders questioned her ability to handle the kids and the kids’ ability to understand the lessons, Loretta proved them wrong. One girl’s face lit up whenever the class sang Jesus Loves Me. Rick looked forward to Sunday school each week—and not just because of Loretta’s peanut butter cookies!
That’s what church is all about isn’t it? It’s a place to hear the good news of Jesus and experience and show His love. In the same way, Disability Ministry exists to glorify God by sharing the love of Jesus Christ and His truth with youth and adults who have unique needs. Our priority is to help participants worship and grow in their faith journey, but we also support their families by making it possible for them to participate in worship gatherings each week.
Disability Ministry isn’t always a comfortable place, but Jesus often calls us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. He connected with people who made his disciples and pharisees uncomfortable—the woman at the well, tax collectors, a blind man, sinners and enemies of Jews. His example reminds us that there’s room for everyone at God’s banquet table (Luke 14). As we sit next to one another, we share life and community.
Disability Ministry is made up of people who are passionate about loving one another because love is from God (1 John 4:7). It’s not hard to love someone with disabilities because, once you show kindness, you have an instant friend! I remember that as a teen that’s what drew me to spend more time with individuals with disabilities. Whenever I had lunch in the special education class I couldn’t help but smile. There was no judgement there. I experienced pure joy and acceptance without regard to ability, ethnicity, gender, IQ or social standing.
The Disability staff and volunteers experience great diversity in this ministry. Participants and caregivers have a wide variety of abilities and nationalities. Each was raised uniquely (foster care, adoption, institutions) and each communicates in diverse ways. With this perspective, we seek to enhance the lives of those with disabilities by recognizing how this culture of difference helps enhance the body of Christ.
Breanna Claussen is Disability Ministry Associate at New Hope Church. She has a heart for helping individuals with disabilities recognize how important they are to the body of Christ.