“Dream a new special needs ministry dream.” Guest blogger Marnie Witters heard God whisper those words to her at a recent conference she attended. Today’s post is filled with practical take aways she hopes will make her dream a reality.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
Recently, I attended the Together special needs ministry conference at Mt. Paran Church in Atlanta, and I was privileged to meet so many leaders with a heart for people with special needs. As a special needs mom, a teacher, and a volunteer, God continues to show me his vision for this ministry, who he wants to use, and how much bigger he is than me.
Special needs families hold so much knowledge, but the journey is isolating. There’s rarely time to meet and discuss the day’s meltdowns or therapies. But at the conference I was encouraged and inspired when I connected with other moms and dads who have taken leaps of faith to start ministries. Our church is in the process of starting a special needs ministry and it’s a challenge, but we’re pressing forward, being obedient, and can’t wait to see God move.
I’d like to highlight a few of my takeaways from the conference with hopes it encourages, inspires, and helps you as you dream your special needs ministry dream.
Our Past is Our Ministry
Most of the time, our past, as Christians aren’t what we care to relive. But, our past is our ministry. If you’d told me that 10 years ago, when my sons were first diagnosed, I might not be in church today. I wasn’t in a place to receive that message, nor do I think it was God’s right time. As a special needs family, we’ve been church hurt, school hurt, heard words that hurt, seen friends disappear, had friends who never asked, heard pastors whose words hurt, been rejected from schools and sports, and heard teachers who hurt.
Also, over those 10 years, God’s shown us His love, healing, restoration, His purpose, given us friends who truly care, and given me a passion for children with special needs. If I hadn’t experienced all I did, I wouldn’t be able to relate to the isolation, fear of rejection, or be equipped to help the newly diagnosed family. I wouldn’t know the questions to ask families and children when planning a new ministry.
God Is Bigger
Like Moses who told God, “I can’t speak well,” and Jonah who begged “Don’t send me,” I, too, have had many discussions with God about my current ability to think about leading a special needs ministry. You know what he says every….single….time?
“I can. Trust me.” That’s it.
That’s all I get.
At the conference, I heard testimony after testimony of a church receiving gifts that funded entire sensory rooms, a young man with CP and autism who walked for the first time, another special young man who worshipped like David in Psalms! God is on the move. He’s got purpose for these children and wants the world to see him in them.
Don’t tell me God can’t.
We can’t, but he can.
He’s so much bigger than us!
Think of your wildest dream, then multiply it a million times. That’s God’s dream!
Help My Unbelief
Like I said above, I feel inadequate, unprepared, unequipped, and overwhelmed. But, I heard many leaders say the same thing. But they trudged on, they prayed and prayed, and they were obedient to God. They stepped out of their comfort zones and believed God would do it, and he did.
Pray without Ceasing
Leaders encouraged us to pray always. To write down what we need. To write down children’s name and what they need. We are to intercede for the special needs community around us. We are to pray and ask God for specifics and resources we need. We should continue to pray corporately, for vision, guidance, and provision. He hears us. He hears you.
Do One Thing Excellently
I had a conversation with our children’s pastor on the way home about how we want the ministry to be right and perfect. We want to be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to be perfect the first time. That’s what speakers said. They said, brainstorm, pick that one thing you can do right now, today, and work at it until it’s done with excellence. Then, move to the next thing. But start small. God provided a scripture to leave you with.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. F
or when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-11
Marnie Witters was a technical writer and editor for more than 20 years until she resigned to homeschool her sons for 8 years. Recently, they went back to public school and she now writes and substitute teaches. She’s been married for 17 years, serves in our amazing church, loves to garden, and enjoys spending time with her family.
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