A professional once told me that she had nightmares that she would die driving a van of mentally challenged individuals.  I was somewhat shocked.  One of the things I enjoy the most about working with a ministry for people with developmental disabilities is that I get to drive them around.

All day Friday and today, I traveled in a car for almost 2,000 miles with a young relative.  He is a young adult now embarking on a life filled with hope and promise.  In these closed quarters, we shared intimate memories and observations of our life experiences.   As the miles melted under us,  we laughed and cried, bonding more completely than we had before.   We are no longer close relatives but close friends, sharing confidences.

The same is true when you transport your members.  While I’ve written about this phenomenon before, it is such an important equation in our ministries that it cannot be overlooked.  Often, we think about how much it affects us to hear from our members with this type of secure contact.  However, it’s also important to examine what happens in the lives of our members as they share with us. 

Few people are truly interested in them and their lives.  Whenever he can, my friend, Saul, wears earphones as he listens to his CD’s.  Because a part of his disability is within the autism spectrum, the music successfully shields him from contact with other people.  Yet, while driving him home from church, he would take off his earphones and answer my routine questions about his week and the health of his parents.  I’ve known how much his responses have meant to me.  I’ve even pondered how I should respond to his answers to effectively disciple him and help him.  Nevertheless, I’ve thought little about whether these conversations are important to Saul.

As the young man left my care after our long road trip, we hugged.  He said, “You will never know how much this has meant to me.”  Could it be that our times of conversation and discussions have had the same effect on Saul?  Could it be that some of our most relevant discipleship and Christ-centered training is happening in cars and vans as we transport our members from place to place? 

Some of the most mundane things Christians have done for me have had the most stunning effects.  A passing word.  A knowing glance.  A smile.  A scripture verse shared that relates to my specific problem.  All these things have helped to shape my life in Christ.  They have dominated my growth.  Can it also be that mile by mile, Christ is using us to disciple and change the lives of our members?

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