leadership


courage

Who are the helpers at church?

When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it (Gal 6:10)

In 2006, the entire nation was glued to our TV’s because two boys had been found in Missouri. Ben had been missing for four days and Shawn had been missing for 4 ½ years.  The two boys were kidnapped by a man and the police found them. Everyone is saying that a young teenager named Mitchell is the key to what happened because he was willing to help his friend in identifying a truck. We are all to be helpers for others. Have a member read, Galatians 6:10.

widowsI.  The Bible records the story of the first men who were chosen to be helpers in the church (Acts 6:1-7).

  1. The church would come together, bring their food and eat their meals together. The Jewish men were helping their older family members who were women to have food.
  2. The non-Jewish women did not have a family member to help them so they were not getting food.
  3. They complained and the Apostles decided they could not wait on the table; but they would choose men who could help these women get the food they needed.

II.  This was a severe need.  The Greek women were not being fed.  We all have concerns and problems.  God gave them men who would help the women who were not being given food to eat.

III.  What we must  understand is that God wants us to win every battle and to have the victory every time and in every way.

  1. God gives victory to his children because he loves us.
  2. Last week we had a funeral for my brother-in-law.  It was sad but wonderful because we were able to spend time together and be with the family that does not know Jesus as their Savior and we saw the young people ministering to each other.
  3. Have you ever been involved with a problem and seen God turn that problem around for your good.
  4. I have a person in my life that has tried to hurt me and my family. This person has only made us stronger people.

IV.  I had a person one time who wanted to really hurt me and for a while it seemed to work and then in my hurt, I found SpG and God gave me all you folks to love me and for me to love.

Conclusion: God doesn’t fight fair when it comes to his children. There will be people who will try to hurt you; but they cannot because God is on your side and he always gives us victory

fishermenI’ve been intrigued the past few weeks with Jesus and his disciples.  When Jesus approached his disciples for the first time, he didn’t see humble fishermen or a tax collector.  Jesus saw world changers.  Men who would carry the message of salvation and God’s grace turning the world upside down.

When I took Western Civilization in college, the professor (who was not a Christian) spoke of Paul as the man who drastically and dramatically changed world history.  Except for Paul, the apostles were simple men bred in simple communities from what was considered a backward Middle Eastern country which is scarcely a dot on the world globe.  Yet, from Russia to the America’s and enveloping Europe, the influence of these Christ-like pioneers swept the heart and minds of people–kings and peasant alike.

globeAs I study the passage of scripture in Mark where Jesus called the fishermen who would become fishers of men, I felt the Lord spoke to me.  “Don’t look at your members as broken people with debilitating disabilities.  Look at them as world changers.”

There are many things that the members within the disability community cannot do.  However, Jesus proves from the nativity of his ministry that he can transform anyone into a world changer.  Liabilities don’t matter.  Hurts and pains become platforms for life-altering testimonies of God’s wonder-working grace and mercy.

Each of us stand before people who are broken.  I’m beginning to ask the Lord to help me to see the people who are the world changers.  People who are willing to be used by the mighty God of the universe to bring his message in simple ways and godly actions.

bulliesFighting Fair

The Philistine also said, “Today I stand and make fun of the army of Israel! Let me have one of your men to fight!”  I Sam 17:10

Introduction–A few years ago, two young men tried to steal my purse from me by grabbing it and driving off in their car.  They weren’t able to get my purse or really hurt me.  You see, even through they were driving a Honda and there were two of them and only one of me, it was not a fair fight because God was on my side.  As we look at the story of David and Goliath, I want us to think about what makes a fair fight.  Have a member read I Samuel 17:10.

  1.  The story of David and Goliath.  Goliath was taunting the Army of Israel and making fun of them.  He said to send one man to fight.  (I Samuel 17)
    1. What Goliath didn’t know was that this was not a fair fight.
    2. He thought he had the advantage but God had the advantage
    3. God sent David to the camp to be able to fight Goliath and to win.
    4. What we need to understand is that God wants us to win every battle and to have the victory everytime and in every way.
  1. God gives victory to his children because he loves us.
  2. Last week we had a funeral for my brother-in-law and it was sad but wonderful because we were able to spend time together and be with the family that does not know Jesus as their Savior and we saw the young people ministering to each other.
  3. Have you ever been in a problem and seen God turn that problem around for your good?
  1. I have a person in my life that has tried to hurt me and my family.  This person has only made us stronger people.
  2. I had a person one time who wanted to really hurt me; and for a while it seemed to work. Then in my hurt, I found SpG and God gave me all you folks to love me and for me to love.

Conclusion:   God doesn’t fight fair when it comes to his children.  There will be people who will try to hurt you; but they cannot because God is on your side and he always gives us victory.

Family Cafe logo

Dear Friend,

It’s almost time to register online for The Family Café’s “Sweet Sixteen,” The 16th Annual Family Cafe!

Online registration for The 16th Annual Family Café will open on another sweet occasion, Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th at 9:00 AM (EST). At that time, you will be able to visitwww.FamilyCafe.net to register. As part of the registration process, you will also be able to request Financial Assistance to cover the cost of your hotel stay at the Hilton Orlando, host site for The 16th Annual Family Café.

A PDF version of the registration brochure is available on our website right now. It can be viewed by following this link. Feel free to download the brochure and share it with other families in your community! If you wish to send in your registration form immediately instead of waiting until February 14th to register online, you can fax it to us at 850/224-4674 or mail it to The Family Cafe at 519 N Gadsden St., Tallahassee FL 32301.

Remember, Financial Assistance will be distributed through a lottery process. Whether you register online, by fax, or by mail, your chances of receiving Financial Assistance remain the same.

Also, if you register by mail or fax, there is no need to register again online after the online registration form becomes available.

The Family Café’s Sweet Sixteen will be held June 6-8, 2014 at the Hilton Orlando, 6001 Destination Parkway in Orlando.  A block of rooms has been reserved at a special conference rate of $109 per night.  To make a reservation, call the Hilton at 407/313-4300. Make sure to mention The Family Café to get the special room rate.

No matter how you register, please remember to mark your calendar for The 16th Annual Cafe! It should be a fantastic Sweet Sixteen weekend with much to offer you and your family. If you have any questions about the event or the registration process, feel free to contact us at 888-309-2233(CAFE) or by replying to this message. Otherwise, we will look forward to seeing you in June!

Thanks,

The Family Cafe

The Family Cafe 888-309-CAFE www.FamilyCafe.net

519 North Gadsden Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
United States


AAIDD Announces its 2013-2014 Board of Directors

March 6, 2013, Washington, DC

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) is extremely pleased to announce its 2013–2014 Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2013. The Board of AAIDD is elected by its membership in annual elections. The members of the 2013–2014 AAIDD Board of Directors are:

President: James Thompson, PhD, FAAIDD
Professor, Department of Special Education, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois

President-Elect: Amy Hewitt, PhD, FAAIDD
Director, Research and Training Center on Community Living, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Vice President: Susan B. Palmer, PhD
Research Professor, Beach Center on Disability, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, Lawrence, Kansas

Secretary-Treasurer: Patti N. Martin, MEd
Executive Director, Montgomery 31 Board, Montgomery, Alabama

Past President: Marc J. Tassé, PhD, FAAIDD
Professor, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, The Ohio State University, Columbus
Director, Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

At-Large Members:

Loui Lord Nelson, PhD, FAAIDD
Post-doctoral Fellow, CAST and Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts

Susan L. Parish, PhD, MSW, FAAIDD
Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy and Director, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

Elizabeth A. Perkins, PhD, RNMH, FAAIDD
Associate Director and Research Assistant Professor, Florida Center for Inclusive Communities UCEDD, University of South Florida

Peter J. Smith, MD, MA, FAAIDD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago
Associate Director, Illinois LEND, University of Illinois-Chicago

***

Founded in 1876, AAIDD is the oldest professional association concerned with intellectual and developmental disabilities. AAIDD advocates for the equality, dignity, and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and for their full inclusion and participation in society. Learn more about the organization at www.aaidd.org.

See the full press release here:  http://www.aaidd.org/news/news_item.cfm?OID=10738

end of a roadCarla is not adjusting well to this time.  It is an end of an era for her.  Carla  is a high functioning person with intellectual disabilities.   Both parents have died.  She became too ill to live in her own apartment any longer.  For health and safety reasons, Carla has been moved into a group home where she can receive medical attention and help with personal care.

Joseph is experiencing the opposite.  It is also an end of an era for him.  His mother’s health has forced his family to make a hard decision.  He, too, has been moved into a group home.  While living at home, Joseph was never allowed to dress, shave or clean himself.  He was told where to go and what to do.  At the group home, he is required to clean, dress and shave himself.  He must take part in the chores and activities of the household.  He is required to do his own laundry and clean his own room.

Carla’s personality is softly pleasant.  Her manners are tender and appealing.  Joseph’s manner is gruff and abrasive.  He never walks.  He struts, giving the impression that he thinks more highly of himself than he ought.

unhappy catWhile Carla finds group home living restrictive and oppressive, Joseph has never had more freedom.  Carla has fewer chores and responsibilities now that she no longer lives in her own apartment. Someone cooks her meals, helps her with her household chores when necessary.   Without even informing her, the staff completes the paperwork required by the government which she often hid rather than traverse through the unintelligible maze of questions.  Carla resents the assistance she receives.

The demands on Joseph have multiplied but his finds increasing freedom in this new arrangement even though it is wrapped tightly with chores and requirements.  Of course, Joseph has never been one to complain.  He takes life as it come; and he trusts the Lord to work things out for his benefit.  Joseph often prays out loud, seriously or happily asking God to help him.

Carla admits that she almost never prays.  The requirements of “religion” are much too difficult and confining.  Carla cannot grasp the concept of God being a friend–her friend.

Joseph’s cognitive level is far below Carla’s but his faith quotient soars far above most other people.  He prays and expects an answer “because God loves me.”  He believes that “all things work” for his good because “God said it in the Bible.  Therefore, it’s true.”

In short, Carla is miserable and has been for years.  Joseph is joyous. Each day is a welcomed adventure.

sitting on a porchEach of us come to times in our lives when things radically change.  We graduate from college.  We get married.  Our first baby is born.  The first child enters kindergarten.  Then poof.   In a few short days, she is entering college.  The children leave home.  The children come back home.  A spouse dies.

Our IQ does not determine the position of our misery barometer.  Through prayer and fellowship with our Heavenly Father and Savior, Redeemer, Friend Jesus that our barometer are adjusting determining the joy and love into which we motivate through life.  I am praying that my life will follow the example set by Joseph.  Even though, he is a young man with a lousy personality and low IQ.  Joseph has tapped into the life-giving force of the Lord Jesus.  His example gives my hope and joy.

gardengardenA couple of times a year I must dedicate several days to my garden.  I have a small yard.  Therefore, most of my back and side yards are devoted to my garden.  I’m not consistent enough with my yard work to be considered a true gardener; but I enjoy the fruits of my sporadic labors all year round.

Often in my pruning and pulling, I find a wilted perennial.  Usually, there seems to be no reason for the decay of the dying plant.  In sunny Florida near the ocean, we need water almost everyday for our growing ornamentals; but I’m pretty diligent about providing that.  Yet, the mystery is that these wilted plants often grow along side the healthy ones.

wiltedIn some plants that seems to be a deficiency in their ability to grow.  They are receiving the same fertilizer and water.  The share equally with the soil and sunlight; but they remain stunted until they are gone.

I remember a young man who was raised in a large family.  He told of an abusive childhood.  Finally, he left home, rejecting the opportunity to go to college as his siblings had done because he didn’t want to be obligated to his unforgiving and vengeful parents.  Yet, when you realized that this young man had been raised by godly parents and his six other siblings told a completely different story about their childhood, you knew something had gone badly wrong with this young man; and his parents probably were not to blame. There were obvious distortions in his life.

distortionsAs the man has matured, his attitude has improved but not totally changed.  The distortions in his life remain.  Wherever he goes, people are making his life miserable.  Employers fire him for no reason.  Women break his heart without regrets or scruples.  Hospital mix up his test results and give him the wrong medications which make him sicker.  Even though, the man rejected church in his youth, he has returned to his faith; but there is no joy in his relationship with the Father.

Several weeks ago, I revisited the parable of the talents as told by Jesus in Matthew 25.  We all remember the three employees who were given various amounts of money from their employer, a business owner.  They were expected to invest the money.  The first two did exactly what was expected of them, doubling the amount they received.

moneyThe third, however, buried his money with this explanation to his employer, “I know that you were a hard man and that you expect growth from investments, even where you don’t invest any money.  You want more for your labors than you are willing to make an effort to produce.  Therefore, I was afraid.  I buried your money and here it is.  I’m returning the amount you gave to me.”

His employer was outraged with his employee.  “If you knew that I was that kind of employer, why didn’t you take my money and put it in the bank so it would at least draw interest.”  The employer took away the money and gave it to the employee who had earned the greatest money from his investment.

The employer explained through is torrent of anger, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them”  (Matthew 25:29)  The employer fired the slothful employee and then had him arrested and sent to prison.

We know that the employer is God in this parable.  In reading the Biblical account, we find that the three men had the same employer but two expected goodness from him.  And that is precisely what they received.  The third employee, driven by indolence, sluggishness and laziness, expected exactly the opposite from the same man and that is what he received.

There are those who expect only the worst from God–and that is what they receive.  Like my wilted garden plant, they never learn to partake of the water, sunlight, warmth and food provided all around them.

Many of my friends within the mentally challenged community exhibit the exact opposite attitude.  Their IQ’s a deficient.  Their bodies may not function properly.  However, they grow and mature without distortions within their spirit.  The Lord in his mercy has graciously provided for all of us.  His blessings abound all during the day and night but often without reason we become overcome by doubts and fears.  Our spirits wilt in the presence of a gracious Lord.

My prayer is that I will command my doubting heart know the love of the Lord.  That I will demand for my whining spirit to look full into the sunlight of his love expecting and receiving the abundant blessings that surround me.

smile of friendship Since there are three levels of friendship–causal, close and committed–it should be our goal to move as many friendships as humanly possible from a causal to a committed friendship. There is means that there are at least 10 things that each of us can and should do in nurturing a friendship grow.

  1. building friendship1.  Recognize you need friends.  It’s the first step that leads to better and more secure friendships.
  2. Look for others in need of a friend.  This may mean reaching out to people whom you might otherwise pass over.
  3. Ask God to bring a faithful friend into your life.
  4. Be approachable by smiling at others.  At times, I’ve been to that I look stern when I’m not aware of my expression.  This means to me that I must be more aware and adjust my facial expression.
  5. Speak to others by name.  Learn names and say the name often.
  6. friendshipListen attentively to others.  Look at the face of the speaker and keep your eyes on the face of the person speaking.
  7. Give genuine compliments and encouragement.  Ge caught noticing the good things in a person.
  8. Ask open-ended question.  Is your daughter feeling better?  How is the job?
  9. Help others verbalize their feelings.  You don’t seem quite yourself today, are you feeling all right?
  10. Look for the kernel of truth in your friends’ criticism.

I’ve learned a great deal about friendship living within the mentally challenged community.  In general, these are people who give of themselves without reserve to people they preceive as an authority figure.  With the slightest encouragement, you become their friend for life.  Yet, shifting on the other foot, they find interacting with their peer may be more difficult.  Within Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, we endeavor to help our members establish valued and long-lasting friendship with their peers.

cross and prayingAfter 6 decades of praying, I’ve developed an awareness that the Lord honors and values our prayers far more than we do.  Considering prayer, I often think about my adult children.  They often call me merely to check and see how I’m doing.  No matter what time they call, if I’m able I answer the phone.

As they approached adulthood, I attempted to make them my friends.  It is impossible to express what their friendship and consideration for my well-being means to me.  I don’t always like or agree with their needs or desires.  Yet, I’m going to listen, give advice if they ask for it and help whenever possible.

parent and hildBeing a human, I can hardly imagine the great heart of God as he listens to our prayers.  Whether complaints, concerns, petitions or intercession, God desires to pour into our lives his blessings of grace and mercy.  Therefore, I cannot ever imagine a time that the Lord will say “No” to a plea that comes from the needs and concerns of one of his children.

However, I’m convinced the Lord always responses, “I’m not going to give you what you desire.  In my wisdom, I know that this is not my best for your life.  I’m going to give you something much better.”

James wrote that we have not because we ask not.  That implies to me that God is far more eager to answer our prayers than we are to pray.

Should our prayer life be thoughtful and reasoned?  Of course.  Should we desire God’s best for our family and friends?  Absolutely.  Should we be concerned that this bountiful, loving God will withhold from us any good thing?  Never.  Can we trust him to honor and answer each prayer with the same mercy and grace that poured from Calvary into a world lost in sin? Yes, with certain assurance.

waiting

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of prayer is when the Lord answers, “Wait.”

We’ve all experienced that waiting time.  Personally, I’m quite ready for my prayers to be answered the day and even the moment I ask.  I’ve prayed for a good friend for more than 25 years to receive the Lord.  Daily, I’ve asked that He bless and help her.  Recently, I paid her a visit and learned that she had received the Lord as her Savior.

joyful peopleI must admit that rather than being overjoyed, my reaction was much more subdued.  I quizzed the Lord about my emotionless reaction.  In my spirit I felt His response, “If I’d done the work more quickly, you would’ve wanted to take credit.  I wanted you to realize that I’m the Savior of her soul, not your prayers.”  Understand this wasn’t a rebuke from the Lord but a simple statement of fact.

The New Testament records an interesting verse. Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days (John 11:6).  

Jesus had received a plea for help from his best friends, Mary and Martha.  Their brother, Lazarus was dying.  Jesus didn’t rush to his bedside to comfort and heal.  He waited.  Oz Hillman wrote,

God often has to delay His work in us in order to accomplish something for His purposes that can be achieved only in the delay. Jesus had to let Lazarus die in order for the miracle that was about to take place to have its full effect. If Jesus had simply healed a sick man, the impact of the miracle would not have been as newsworthy as resurrecting a man who had been dead for four days. This is Jesus’ greatest “public relations act” of His whole ministry. What many do not realize is that the key to the whole story is in the next chapter.

Many people, because they had heard that He had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:18-19)

The Lord was setting the stage for Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It was only after this great miracle that the Pharisees began to see that the only path to the elimination of Jesus’ influence was his death.  From that moment they purposed in their spirits to destroy Jesus.

God's plaMonths ago, I shared with a young pastor who had been elected to an important office some on the things that I’d learned while serving in a similar position.  He reaction was rejection of my ideas. Then, last week, we again sat at a meeting.  He shared his discouragement and the lack of success he had experienced in his ministry over the past two or three years.  Another more experienced pastor quietly shared what I’d proposed a year ago. The young pastor heard and adopted the plan

After the meeting, the older pastor came to me and whispered, “You said that a year ago; but he couldn’t hear it then.  He had to learn the hard way.”  Then the seasoned minister grinned, “We all have to learn the hard way–our way.”

Delays aren’t merely part of God’s great plan for eternity.  They are also part of his plan for our lives.  Perhaps the hardest to receive–yet most profitable–answer God can give us to our prayers is “wait.”

praying on her kneesPrayer is an eternal mystery that haunts even the most devote warrior in God’s kingdom.  For Frances, prayer was her bread and drink.  She spent her days and nights in supplication to the Lord.  I earnestly believe that it was the prayers of Frances that turned our nation back to the Lord in a great way in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

Of course there were many others who also prayed and sought God but I experienced first-hand the result of Frances’ ministry.  I sat under her teaching and walked hand in hand with her during her times of struggle.  I also saw her confidence in prayer.  I rejoiced in what God was accomplishing through the hours spend listening, speaking, loving and even wrestling with a holy God.

tent meetingsWhile TV pundents often proclaim that everyone was stoned during those decades, there was an underground movement that consisted of late teens and young adults whose hearts pled for God to change them and our nation.  My husband and I were part that movement–the Jesus Movement.  We led a vibrant and holy group of teenagers whose sole ambition was to find a deep relationship with Jesus.  They gathered under tents and in churches.  They fasted and held all night prayer meetings.

While the focus beamed on the teens and the other young men and women who led this army of teenagers, it was the matrons and masters of prayer–such as Frances–who had plowed the ground, planted the seed and rejoiced in the harvest.  Their battle was hard-fought.  They struggled and wrestled with the enemy of our souls on their knees, weeping, laughing and facing that dreaded enemy with grace, courage and valor. The power of the Holy Spirit never failed them.  The Father’s love always embraced them and assured them that his great destiny would save even the most horrible reprobate.

These prayer warriors didn’t possess the advantages of social media, blogs or the Internet but their prayers had world-wide and lasting effects.  Somehow, Christian leaders from around the world heard about Frances and came to her humble home for prayer.  They delighted in staying in the home of Frances and her husband. eating her food, laughing and enjoying fellowship long into the night.  But they came for prayer–recognizing her vital connection to God that brought success in ministry.

joanFew of us have been given the grace Frances possessed in determined, steadfast prayer.  Yet, all of us can seek God with the grace God has given to us.  Frances died stubbornly, without fanfare.  She resisted death even after her strength and vigor had been long spent.  I asked her oldest daughter, “Why does she struggle, resisting death so strongly?”  She believed that Frances clung to a desire to be on earth when the Lord returned.

Was this woman of God perfect?  No! Was she a warrior who helped to change the world for Christ?  Yes!

keep calmOkay! I had to do this.  But I have more reason to write about December 21, 2012 than most folk.  It’s my birthday and it’s a big one.  That is, it’s a big number.  For many people, my age might even signal the end of the world.

However, I don’t intend to go away today.  I plan to live to my societal prophetic 100 years and continue to work.  There is a great deal of freedom that comes with age.  I’ve heard from a variety of people different milestones that change you.

My good friend Mama Poulsen said that 50 was the changing age.  When my friend, Grace Caldwell, died at 79, her only regret was that she didn’t reach 80.  “Because at 80 you can say and do whatever you want.”

me rabbittSince I’ve pretty much lived that way many years of my life,  maybe it’s time for me to pull back.  Whenever I asked my husband for his opinion about a decision, he used the old phrase, “Do whatever you want.  That’s what you always end up doing anyway.”  When he said it, I chaffed at the notion.  Nevertheless, looking back, I see that he was right more times than he was wrong.

Of course, I had three children and a fairly demanding husband; but in the end, I’ve seen circumstances and realities change to the point that I seem to “end up doing whatever I want.”  Through this, I’ve learned that in the Christian life sacrificial giving often becomes a doorway to your greatest blessing.  The first really become the last and the last often finish first.

HB to meIt takes years to comprehend.  Yet in God’s economy, there is a strength in weakness.  The poor in spirit always obtain the heavenly riches.  Those who weep acquire the greatest consolation because their comfort emanates from the throne of God.  And the whole earth will be given to the humble.

Happy Birthday to me!  I pray your day will be as blessed as mine.

For years, one of our Bible teachers at Special Gathering reviewed the same Bible verse with his class every week.  “I will pray morning, noon and night.”  As the first five years rolled around, I became a bit disturbed.  Doesn’t he know any other verses? I asked myself.  Then I came to welcome the value of what he was teaching his class.  The learning abilities of his class were limited.  He drilled them each week.  While some of the members could quote the verse easily, others struggled week after week, year after year.

Slowly, as the years melted into seven, eight years, I came to see that my understanding of the verse was deepening.  Almost every week, I would sit in his class.  I found that this simple Biblical declaration became dear to me.

“I will pray morning, noon and night,” I would mutter to myself as I climbed into my car for lunch.  At odd times, I realized that my spirit mind was telling my sub-conscious mind, I will pray morning, noon and night.  It became a call to prayer for me that became a welcomed reminder and spurred my mind to think about prayer more often.

My mother took a selling job when I was a pre-teen.  In her training, she was taught an important principle that she shared withher daughters, “Repetition brings out thought.”  For those of us who value our quick minds, we sometimes discount the value and purpose of repetition.

However, men and women who make a daily practice of memorizing scriptures, repeat even the familiar ones several times a day.  They carry their scriptures packets for review during their down times.  Not only are they learning the Word and hiding God’s message in their hearts, they are bringing out new thoughts about what God has to say to them.

Often, those of us who minister to people who are intellectually disabled romanticize our population.  It is the most wonderful group of people with which I’ve worked.  However, like the rest of the population, there can be glaring bumps, blemishes and distractions.

While her mother remained as part of  her life, Windy was raised by a doting father.  His greatest compliment to her was “good enough for a girl.”  When she turned 21, she was placed in a group home about a 100 miles from her father.  Extremely withdrawn because of her inability to speak clearly, Windy was basically nonverbal.  After several years, the family learned that she was being sexually molested on the back row of the church by a “normal” man who was her own age.  This abuse has marred her personality and outlook in a multitude of ways.

Merrianne’s mother has spent much of Merrianne’s life in jail.  Merrianne has seen and heard things that I cannot even imagine.  Her perspective on life is much different from many of our Special Gathering members who were raised in stable households.  When I first met her, I was put off by her brash manners.  Yet, as I’ve gotten to know Merrianne, I have known very few people who have a heart for God like Merrianne.  She wants to grow in the Lord and every painful inch is time of celebration for her.

Yesterday, as we sat in a Bible study, I saw another inch achieved.  The teacher was speaking to another member.  “You have lived on your own for years; and you don’t like people interfering in your life.  Christians seem bossy and meddling to you.”  Merrianne leaned her chin against her fists that were resting on the table and whispered, “That’s me.”  Later, as we drove home, she commented on the class and indicated that she needed to be studying the Bible more.

In reality, these are not isolated cases within the disability community.  Again and again, as we learn about the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, we find that their lives have been filled with abuse and insecurity.  But they survive and most of them thrive when they continue to live in an environment of love and acceptance that a Church family provides.

How different are Windy and Merrianne from me?  I must admit, there is more than a few IQ point; but they are people with real needs and real desires.  They are men and women who respond to the Gospel with joyful acceptance and expectation.  Perhaps Windy and Merrianne are more like you and me than we assume.  Because like every other peson who have ever lived,  they deserve to hear the good news of Jesus’ sacrifice and the joy provided by a loving Savior who died that they might have life.

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