If they aren’t interested in attending your special needs ministry, we may be the people who some folks within the mentally challenged will want to avoid. Therefore, they may ignore us or even try to avoid us. We must learn to not take these snubs personally.  The members of the mentally challenged community may not want to risk losing our approval.  In their immature way, they seek to erase us, rather than risk disapproval.

I have learned that even the most rude people are aching for love and acceptance.  In fact, those who are the insolent are probably the most needy.  You can approach them one of two ways.  First, you can ignore them completely but pray fiercely.  This impersonal approach may be what they want.  As you pray for them, ask that the Lord will give you the opportunity to show them Christ’s love.  Second, you can go out of your way to speak to them and engage them in conversation. 

I usually do a bit of both.  At first, I ignore them completely.  Then after weeks or months of encounters, I will speak to them.  I will probably introduce myself to them after a couple of encounters.  True, there are some folks who will not ever warm up to me.  However, I don’t know what is happening in their hearts and minds.

Several years ago, I attended a secular course that was conducted by a Christian university.  At the beginning of a long year of study, I was the only Christian in the room, other than the instructor.  By the end of the year, almost everyone in the class of 15 had come to the Lord.  I encountered several members of the group about a year after the class had ended.  He was a young airman.  He approached me in the grocery store.  “You know that class completely changed my life.  I’ve come to the Lord and I’m living for him.  Jose (his friend who also attended the class) has also come to the Lord.  We’re attending a Bible study together.” 

I’ve often wondered if the university has any idea how many lives they touch for Christ through these courses.  In the same way, I cannot help but wonder how much “Goodness and Mercy” who follow us each day are effecting the lives of people we minister within the developmentally disabled community.

It is easy to become discouraged, especially with the newer generation of folks who have been raised without church or the godly influence of years gone by.  However, the same hunger for joy and peace gnaw into the lining of their bellies.  Jesus is still the answer.  Who will be available to love and share when that gnawing finally eats a hole into their hearts?  If God gives us mercy, perhaps it will be us.

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