The executive director of Special Gathering, Richard Stimson, often explains the powerful influence his twin brother who is mentally challenged exerts on his life.  Nevertheless, he also says that his brother is not the reason that he started the ministry.  It was the call of God that determined his vocation.  Regardless, it is an interesting fact that many siblings are drawn into social service positions.  There appears to be a strong attraction within the human spirit that draws people to this cloistered sub-culture. 

When Laura was a child, the Lord led her parents to volunteer with Special Gathering.  During those years, she was like any other child tagging along with parents.  More times than not, she resented the fact that her Sunday afternoons were occupied with ministry tasks, rather than play.   Now, Laura is a mother. Recently, she made the decision to also become a volunteer with a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  One of her main reasons was for her children to come to know this population.  “I want my girls to have the advantage I had of being exposed to the mentally challenged community at an early age,” she told her mother.

 While no more was said, this young mother believes that the development of her children will be enhanced by establishing a relationship with people who are developmentally disabled.  Beyond a doubt, there are great benefits associated by fostering a friendship with a man, woman or child who is mentally challenged.  Thomas’ brother was mentally challenged, born with Cerebral Palsy (CP).  I’ve been Thomas’ friend for about three years but somehow he had missed that my ministry was within the disability population.  When he learned about Special Gathering, his eyes widened; and he grabbed the table where he was sitting as though trying to keep himself from jumping up from his seat, “Can I come?  I would love to be a part of that!” he said with more enthusiasm than I’d ever seen him express. 

The blessings of the Lord rest on The Special Gathering in a unique way.  There are several reasons but the most glaring one is the population that we serve is loved with by God with passion.

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