February 2009

This an e-mail I received from Jim Hukill and LIFT ministries.  I’m never put a solitictation letter on our weblog before.  However, I believe in Jim and his ministry.  Even if we don’t give financially, we can pray.

In today’s environment everyone is feeling desperation, financial stresses and a restrictive attitude toward many things. At Lift Disability Network we understand the pressure everyone is facing. That is why we don’t take for granted an opportunity to share with you a very important need. Before you continue, thank you for allowing me to share my heart.


Inspiring Our Family

LDN - Web Logo 2008

This year we are going to launch a new vision initiative.  Over the next two months our Board of Directors will be working to strategically designed our goals and objectives that will carry us in our mission through the next couple of years.  At this time it looks like our direction will be under the theme of “Inspiration”.  It would be appreciated if you would be in prayer for us during this time of development.
As a part of our year of Inspiration, we have a real need to assist an individual that has been very important to our ministry over the last 18 months.
Since 1998 Lift Disability Network has been an organization which consisted primarily of my wife, Rhonette, and me.  While there have been certain individuals who have helped us in varying capacities over the years, this individual has truly stood with us and carried the vision of Lift forward.  That is why I strongly believe that it is time to Inspire our family member, and we need your help to do it.
Brad Staton has been serving at Lift since the Fall of 2007 on a full time basis with no demands or exceptions.  I cannot over emphasize Brad’s importance in the future of Lift, specifically how he enables me to do the things that I excel at while minimizing my weaknesses with his strengths; we make a great team!  Here is an overview of his ongoing contribution to Lift:
Brad Staton’s influence on LDN
  • Provides a means for me to be mobile and effective.  Without this I have a limited physical presence in the community, i.e. going to meetings, meeting with potential donors, leading the Lift Network meeting, overseeing Operation Giveback, etc.
  • Provides oversight for the operational aspects of the ministry
  • Is the primary contact person in the ministry; sets and organizes all meetings and facilitates follow up plan and implementation
  • Provides set-up and take down for all meetings
  • Brings a 10 year background in ordained ministry and 1 year in the financial industry to the job.
  • Enhances the public perception of professionalism within the organization. 
While bringing Brad on is only a part of the vision that Lift hopes to see come to fruition over the next year I wanted to highlight him so that you can share in a sense of urgency with me. Specifically, to help our ministry help Brad, and therein help advance our vision. We need to raise immediately $5,000 to cover some expenses for this family member. During this time Brad will be helping me and our board shape our future, of which he is an essential part.
As I stated, this is a short term goal to make steps toward a longer term objective. You will receive a more defined vision from us soon, but I know in order for our success to be realized we must strengthen our ministry family.  By Inspiring Our Family, Lift will have the opportunity to continue in its mission of Elevating Life in the Disability Family.


There are two easy ways to you can help. First, pray for Lift and pray for Brad. Pray for his family, strength and provision. Secondly, give. This moment is a time when every gift, no matter what size, makes a difference. We just need your help.
Thank you again for letting me share my heart with you.


Jim Hukill
Lift Disability Network



There are two ways to help:
Pray for Lift & Pray for Brad Staton. Drop an encouraging e-mail to Brad Staton.
Give! To donote through our website go to Lift Disability Network and click on Donate. Or drop a check in the mail to:
Lift Disability Network
4700 Millenia Blvd Suite 175
Orlando, FL 32839


Once again, I’m reading the first five books of the Bible.  Again, I’m struck by God’s continual attention to detail in regard to how to live our lives.  God doesn’t mind if we endeavor to uncover the secret to success in his kingdom.  In fact, Proverbs tells us that it is God glory to have secrets; it is man’s glory to uncover the answer to those secrets. 

At The Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, we have taken years to develop a financial base for our programs.  Most of this support comes from local congregations.  Developing trust from the pastor of a church is vital.  However, once you have an audience with the congregation or the missions committee, you will need to understand the rules that govern this interplay.

If you are meeting with a missions committee, they will give you a five to fifteen minute time slot.  DO NOT–under any circumstances–overreach that time period.  Speak in less time than you are given.  Then stop talking but do not move.  There will be questions.  Wait patiently for them. 

During the question and answer session, watch the clock.  As soon as your time runs over, apologize.  You can say, “I’m sorry.  I know my time is up.  I’d be thrilled to stay here all night answering questions and I’d love every minute of it.  But you have families at home.  You’ve worked all day.  I want to answer all your questions but please let me know when I’ve talked enough.”  Again, don’t leave your seat but wait for other cues.  If there are no more questions, get up immediate.  Thank the committee for their time and for considering your ministry.

Understand some things.  Begin and end your presentation by thanking them for allowing you to speak to them.  These people have worked all day.  They aren’t being paid for their time.  They do have families waiting for them.  Some of them didn’t have time for supper because they had to get a meal for their husbands and children.  They are volunteers. 

In addition, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of ministries who would beg for the opportunity you have to speak to this committee.  They have a limited amount of money and that money needs to go to places that are sound doctrinally and fiscally.  They are cheering for you.  They want to support you but you must prove that you are worthy of their attention and their committee’s financial support.

Remind them that you need their prayers.  Whether you get financial support from them or not, someone will remember to pray for you and that is much more vital than a few coins.  The finances will come, if you have prayer support. 

What have been some of your good experiences with mission committees?  What are some of your bad experiences with missions committees?

More than two years ago, I began trying to work the Sudoku puzzles.  You know, they are the puzzles where you must fill in the blanks with numbers from one to nine.  There are three requirements.  You cannot repeat any numbers in the nine number square, horizontally or vertically.  Sounds easy enough, I thought.  I bought an Easy-to-Do Sudoku book and began.  The only problem was that I couldn’t do them–not the easy ones–not the hard ones.

I knew there had to be a trick to doing them but I couldn’t seem to find anyone who could tell me what their trick was.  Finally, in reading the introduction of still another easy-to-do book, one phrase hit me, “You need never guess.  Let the numbers tell you how to fill in the other blanks.”  Okay, sounds simple enough but somehow that clicked with me.  It meant to me that my frustration was misplaced because somewhere within the puzzle the answer was always hidden.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been speaking about how to obtain financial support for your ministry.  Because The Special Gathering, a parachurch ministry within the mentally challenged community, expressly works through church budgets, I tried to share with you the things which we believe the Holy Spirit has taught us that have worked for us.  However, the basic thought of this entire series is that you must develop trust from local pastors and congregations for you and for your ministry. 

In working with pastors, I find that you need to

  1. become a part of a local pastors’ group.
  2. if possible, become a part of a local prayer and share pastors’ group.
  3. learn the rules of the group and abide by them.
  4. be careful about the amount of time you speak and what you share.
  5. in these meetings continually expressing your ardent passion for your ministry may be misplaced.  Every pastor in that meeting has an equal passion for their ministry and they could speak as eloquently as you, if they chose.   
  6. relax.  Let them see your heart by the getting to know YOU. 

Okay, this is another list and it’s a repeat of some of what I said previously.  However, you will want to ignore or break these rules in the beginning.  Resist that temptation. 

God wants to bless your ministry.  His heart is for the downtrodden and misunderstood.  People who are mentally challenged fit that into his heart as a unique population of individuals. 

Have you found other things which speak to pastors in developing a secure financial base?

Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We have more than 60 supporting churches from one county.  Church budgets are our support base.  We aren’t social workers or do social work.  We are ministers of the gospel.  Our purpose is to evangelize and disciple people who are developmentally disabled.

Over the years, we’ve learned a few things.  These aren’t all my ideas but things which have been passed on to me by my mentors in the ministry.  Others would–I’m sure–put these guidelines more diplomatically.  Understand, your ministry needs financial support to survive.

As a pastor or director of a parachurch ministry, you will find that you are often neither fish nor fowl.  You are somewhere in the netherlands where people don’t usually want to be.  However, you find yourself there and you need to live.  Therefore, you need to support your ministry and yourself.  Please, understand that in supporting yourself, you are also supporting your ministry.  Because without finances, you cannot pay yourself a salary and you will need to get another job.  In the process, your ministry will be lacking.

Within the mentally challenged community, there are a growing number of  paid-pastoral positions–full-time and part-time.  This is a good trend because it shows that the Church is beginning to value the worth of people with disabilities enough to pay someone to do the necessary work. 

Several years ago, I was loosely associated with a person who refused to ask for support from anyone for her ministry.  Mary headed a small parachurch ministry that was similar to Special Gathering of Indian River.  She had been hired as full-time staff and several grants were paying her salary.  These grants would last for about four to five years.  In this way, she would have the time to raise her own support. 

However, she was stuck in the paradigm of George Mueller, who ran a successful orphanage and didn’t ask anyone for support because he believed that God would provide for all his needs.  (Of course, my question is, how did people know that Mueller didn’t ask for support if he didn’t write and speak about his belief.  And in writing and speaking about this belief, isn’t this a form of asking for money?  Oops, that is a different subject.)  She felt that if God were really in her ministry, He would supernaturally supply support for her.  No amount of conversation or discussion was able to dissuade her from her belief.  Her belief even extended to the point that her tithes went to other ministries, not her own.  My associate was lived on the grants and when they were gone, she had to leave the ministry because she had not been able to raise support.

While I applaude her faith efforts, she didn’t seem to understand that if she weren’t willing to give to her own ministry, why should others give.  Was she stopping the flow of God’s blessings and not allowing God to use her to provide for the ministry needs.  “God is my source,” she would tell me.  “If He doesn’t provide, I won’t have a ministry.” 

And she was correct. 

Her steadfast beliefs made me reexamine my own faith.  Here are a couple of things I gleaned from her:

  1. If you don’t believe in the ministry in which you serve enough to support it, no one else will either.  As a staff person, Mary was doing the work of the ministry.  In supporting another ministry, she was supporting other aspects of the overall church.  However, her traget population were people eager to hear the gospel from her. They were eventually deprived of that honor because she had to leave the ministry. 
  2. It is selfish to think only of yourself in these complicated ministry issues.  Our focus must be the people who need to be evangelized and discipled.
  3. Asking for financial support may be more humbling than waiting for God to supernaturally provide. 
  4. While the scripture does teach, “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.”  It also teaches, “You have not because you ask not.” 
  5. The principle of sowing and reaping is pretty specific.  If I sow corn seed, then corn will grow.  Beans and tomatoes don’t come from corn seed.  They come from bean or tomato seed.   In the same way, if I sow into the ministry of SpG, SpG will reap the harvest.
  6. Contributing to your own ministry does not diminish the work of Christ within your ministry but demonstrates that you are fully invested in this ministry.
  7. Asking for financial support doesn’t diminish God’s provision but allows the Faith Community to understand what your needs are.

I know that each of us must find our own faith paths.  However, don’t cut off one avenue of blessing because you are stuck in a paradigm that may not be where God wants to lead you.

What are some things you have learned about this faith walk?  Do you think the Mueller paradiam of support will work for you?  Do you think this is a more holy way of obtaining finances than asking for help?

Here is a wonderful story that Tracy Taylor, one of our Volusia teachers and elders, wrote on her Facebook page about how she began in Special Gathering.  Thanks, Tracy for your story.

Well, I would like to tell how I have been called to such a ministry as The Special Gathering.  One day in June of 1997 while I was in the Sunday morning service at the local church, our pastor had announced beforehand that there would be special guest speaker to tell about a special outreach ministry. On that day, Linda G. Howard was the featured guest speaker sent to talk about the ministry. She brought The Special Gatheringchoir to sing at our church. They sang several songs praising the Name of Jesus. They sang beautifully despite the fact that they are mentally challenged.

Then Linda G. Howard preached on the “God Makes Things Holy” It was beautifully done… She uses the New Century Version Bible which is the easiest Bible for most of the mentally challenged folks to read and understand. While she was preaching on the “God Makes Things Holy,” I heard a quiet voice speaking to me.  So I listened, “Daughter,  this is it.” And sure enough, I knew that it was God who was speaking to me through the Holy Spirit.

So I prayed about it and decided to obey God by calling Linda.  I asked her if I could volunteer to help. Sure enough, she gladly accepted.

The Special Gathering is now incorporated as an outreach ministry for the mentally challenged folks of all faiths and walks of life.  The ministry began many years ago in Lakeland, Florida  by Richard Stimson. Many of these folks were unchurched.  This ministry is designed to make disciples of folks who are developmentally disabled.

I am now an Elder and a teacher of the Volusia County’s Special Gathering. I teach a Sunday school style class to those who cannot speak and have low functioning capacities. I mainly use the object and/or pictorial lessons to convey the messages from the Bible so that they can understand.  I really do enjoy teaching these folks; and they love Jesus with all their hearts.

The Special Gathering meets as if we’re in the church, even though we are using the ARC workshop in DeLand. We fellowship before we start the worship service with the Praise and Worship music. Then, we continue in worship as the deacons pray for the various prayer needs and someone passes the offering plates for the offerings. Then, Linda preaches from the Bible after a few quick announcements. 

After the worship service, we pray before we fellowship with snacks and before breaking into the various classes. We have some members who can read, others who can understand the Bible without being able to read.. and, of course, the non-verbal, lower mental functioning class which I’m teaching now.  They can understand clearly, though they may not be able to verbalize their thoughts as plainly as others.  And at last, we take them home.

So now you know of one of my ministries. Yes, there are others. Right now at Special Gathering, we have prayed for a new director and God answered our prayers by sending a young woman who is now in training. We all know that she will be a wonderful director. Praise the Lord!

May God bless you always.

Again I plan to offend both genders equally in this post.  However, after the second paragraph no men will read it.  Therefore, I am sorrowful that I will probably only end up offending women.

Within the mentally challenged community, there is a need for evangelism and discipleship.  The Special Gathering has been formed with this primary mission.  For the past 20 years, I’ve served within the developmentally disabled community as a minister of the gospel.  I presently serve as Area Director for Special Gathering of Indian River.  Part of my job discription is fund raising.  We seek to raise most of our funding from churches.  We believe that Christ has commissioned the church.  We want to be a part of local congregations.  Becoming a part of ministrial groups is part of this process.  I want to discuss becoming a part of a ministrial group made up of women.

If you become a part of group of pastors that is made up of women, there will not be men in the group.  The reason is not that men are not invited and welcomed as part of the group; but because men won’t come.  Therefore, I’ll speak specifically to women in this entry.

If you are part of a women’s ministrial meeting, there are still rules that need to be followed.  However, they aren’t unspoken rules and they are simplier rules.  They have probably been hashed out clearly.  Yet, when you first come into the group, you will still need to know the rules.

  1. Unlike a group where men are included, you can talk as much as you wish.
  2. What you hear must be kept within the group.
  3. It is hoped that you will speak openly and honestly about your needs.
  4. Outside the group, you will be expected to never speak about what you hear about other people’s needs.
  5. You should come prepared to share.
  6. You should come prepared to not share outside the group what is talked about in the meeting.
  7. Usually no subject is off-limits. 
  8. You will be expected to keep confidences forever.
  9. Trust will be given among the group but you will be expected to return that trust by not speaking about the things which are talked about when the meeting is over.
  10. Do not discuss with other members what one member has shared when the meeting is over.
  11. If a group of women have learned to trust each other, they will almost always become a closed group.  Don’t be offended.  Along the way, someone has spilled the confidences of one of more members.  They have learned from experience whom they can trust.

In case you haven’t figured it out–the most important rule within the group is that these people have shared openly and honestly and you must never share what has been discussed.  Outside of the meeting, you should assume that you cannot discuss anything that is mentioned in the meeting.

Women are pretty special folks and they aren’t fragile.  However, they take seriously the need to be able to trust a friend.  Trust can only be gained by being trustworthy.

We Should Serve Each Other in Love

Galatians 5:13

Central Theme:   We should serve each other with God‘s love.


Introduction–The first time I was employed by a church, I was in high school.  And during that time there was a big church fight.  Somehow I got into the middle of it.  

                1.    I was young and I did not know what was happening.

                2.    But it was good for me because I realized at a young age that there are people in the church and people do bad things

                3.    I also learned that we must continue to serve each other, even if we are not happy with the way they act

                5.      Have a member read Galatians 5:13.


       I.     Tell the story of Paul and the church in Corinth.

              1.  They were fighting

              2.  Paul wrote two letters to help them act more like Christians.

              3.  The letters that Paul wrote are I and II Corinthians.

      II.     God wants us to live in peace with each other but bad things happen because we are people.


              A. The worst things happen in the church because of gossip.

              B. Gossip may be true things that should not be told.

              C. Gossip is also telling a lie.

              D. We do not have to tell everything that we know about someone.

              E.  I have a very good friend who told some bad things about me that were not true.

                   1.  I knew some really bad things about her; they were true.

                   2.  Many, many times I have had the opportunity to tell those bad things about her. 

                   3.  God has given me the grace to not tell them.               

                   4.  I am happy that I have not told them; even though they are true, it would be gossip.

Conclusion–We have a gossip problem in Special Gathering.  We need to love each other and decide not to talk about each other, even if it is true.

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