As I sat on the dark secluded road, my mind and emotions  weren’t numb to the potential danger that lurked behind every approaching car headlight.  I found myself sitting on the side of the road, a mile from the nearest house in a patchy cell phone reception area.  Somehow, my tire had become flat and I was not sure how to proceed.  Unable to reach anyone on my cell phone, I had several options.  Get out of the car and walk to the nearest house, wait until someone realized I was missing and came to fetch me or keep trying my cell phone. 

It was approaching 10pm.  I had gotten up at 4am to prepare for Special Gathering.  We had a wonderful 4th of July picnic.  I came home, prepared my husband for the road trip.  We left at 2pm in the afternoon.  After arriving in South Carolina about 8:30pm, I was on my way to my sister’s home to deliver the lap top computer that had been left at my house in Florida, when a whine coming from outside my car alerted me that a  tire was flat.  I had planned on staying about an hour and going back to the motel where my husband was sleeping.  I pulled over to the side of the road and prayed.  Too tired to walk, I tried my cell phone one more time.  Relief filled my emotions when I heard the electronic hum that indicated that the phone was ringing on the other end.

Within another hour, my tire was repaired and I was back on the road.  Often, when faced with a perplexing situation, I wonder how a mentally challenged person would handle a similar road hazard.  More times than not, I have found that mentally challenged people react much the same way a person with a higher IQ would react.  Some people panic about everything.  Others are as cool as a watermelon.  While others become problem solvers and insist on doing something to make the situation better.

I am usually a problem solver but past experience has taught me that I could not change this tire on the side of the road in the dark, next to a steep embankment.  Therefore, I waited and prayed, reviewing the day in my mind.  The set-up for the picnic, the array of delicious food, the meal, the trip.  My mind wandered from Randi to Jack and Richard and Kim.  Kim relished in the TWO dishes of salad she brought.  Jack made his now famous green salad.  Richard was non-committal about the delightful dish of homemade pizza that his sister had prepared.  Randi faithfully brought her plate of sandwiches. 

The longer I work with people with disabilities, the more I realize how very similar they are to the general population.  When I was first introduced to this sub-culture, it was the differences that fascinated us.  However, the longer we work and play among our members, it is the similarities that grow more interesting.

At the core, we are all human beings.  Complex, exciting, fallen sons and daughters  of Adam meeting each road hazard with in our own unique way.  Disabilities don’t stop people from being people.  This is the reason why it is vital that those of us who minister within the special needs community do not become weary with doing what we do and doing it well.  We aren’t glorified babysitters but ministers of the gospel to an important segment of the population that need to hear the good news of God’s redemptive power through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus. 

Road hazards will either help to clear our minds or increase the fogginess.  Your relationship to the Lord is what makes the difference–not your disability.

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