Let our children with special needs in. Has that question come from your lips while trying to persuade your church to be more welcoming to your child with disabilties? Guest blogger Kimberly Drew is here to explain how often she’s had to ask and advocate for her kids at the church.
“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.’”
Ryan and I have been in ministry almost twenty years together now. We started out as volunteers for a junior high youth group in my home church and have spent the last ten serving full time in his home church. We’ve had a couple stops in between but one thing has been consistent: churches are not always prepared for the disabled. They have handicap doors and ramps because building codes require them. But once you enter the doors, often times the church has no plan in place for how to assimilate the disabled into the lifeblood of the church. If you’re parents of children with special needs, like we are, you know how frustrating this can be.
I want you to know that churches aren’t perfect and neither are the people running them!
I know this for a fact because, well, I’m married to a pastor! It takes intentionality to get a church to place where people with disabilities can come in and find a place that not only meets their physical limitations, but also meets their spiritual needs while taking into consideration their mental capabilities, personalities, and gifts. Think of it this way. As parents we spend every day with our children. We spend hours in doctor’s offices and at IEP meetings just trying to get inclusion right. We have lots of practice.
Our churches only have about an hour and a half once a week.
Taking care of our daughters has looked very different at every church we’ve attended. We have had awkward conversations, begged for different equipment in Sunday school rooms, asked a lot of people to be a buddy to our daughters, sent e-mails begging for a sensory friendly room, and more. We are on staff. My husband is one of the pastors. If we have had to be this voice, then please know that you will probably have to be that voice as well.
Don’t be discouraged by this situation.
Remember that disability comes naturally to those who are living it, but not so much to those who aren’t. The church is full of people waiting for a calling to serve your family and your child. They just don’t know it yet. We have to give our churches the time and space to grow and change. We have to give the Holy Spirit room to move and change hearts. If you haven’t been attending church because it is difficult for your child, I encourage you to pray about whether or not the Holy Spirit wants to change your heart about this. The Lord tells us that our kids are the exact target audience for his big banquet. Perhaps God has placed your family in your church to transform it into a Luke 14 kind of place.
Perhaps He is calling you to advocate for your church to let our children with special needs in.
Kimberly grew up and went to college in the small town of Upland, IN. She graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Elementary Education in 2002. While at TU, she married her college sweetheart and so began their adventure! Ryan and Kimberly have three amazing kids on earth (Abigail, Jayden, and Cooper), and a baby boy waiting for them in heaven. Theirdaughter Abigail (Abbey) has multiple disabilities including cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, hearing loss, microcephaly, and oral dysphagia. She is the inspiration behind Kimberly’s desire to write. In addition to being a stay at home mom, Kimberly has been serving alongside her husband in full time youth ministry for almost fourteen years. She enjoys working with the senior high girls, scrapbooking, reading, and music. You can visit Kimberly at her website, Promises and Perspective.
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