Early this morning, I updated and published our daily blog–on the computer. Later in the morning, I worked on The Special Gathering of Indian River upcoming board meeting–on the computer. In the afternoon, I renewed my corporate papers, paid some bills, looked up an address, sought some important information regarding disabilities, tried to get my printer working, worked on my income statement, updated our data base–all on the computer.

Like most people I have an enormous love/hate relationship with my computer. And frankly, I’m not sure that our small ministry could exist without our computers. The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community that operates in eight cities and two states. We minister on a face-to-face basis each week to about 350 to 400 individuals who are intellectually disabled. We have two full-time staff members and 6 part-time staff members. We beg and borrow from everybody in five counties to survive.

We manage and update our web-based data regularly. We have a newsletter that we publish as a small fraction of the cost of what it would be without a computer. We organize, rearrange, write and communicate with our computers.

But we usually produce a product (in our newsletters and publications) that is first-class. We have received phone inquiries from large churches in our geographic area asking how we can do what we do with the budget we have. Of course, the answer is the computer.

But this afternoon, I can’t get any of my WORD files because they all go to ADOBE READER.  And they won’t open in ADOBE because it says they have been corrupted.  Which is true.  Perhaps,  it is a simple thing that has gone wrong but I can’t figure out what has happened. I’m frustrated and upset.

At times like these, I catch a glimpse of what it must be like to be one of my members who is intellectually disabled. There seems to be no way that I can overcome the ADOBE obstacle that faces me. One Sunday, as I shared with our members the joy of living as a Christian, I could tell something was missing for them. I stopped. “I know,” I said, “this may sound almost like a foreign language to you. We are always last in line. Always waiting for someone to help us so we can do what seems simple to other people.”

The room was frozen with silence. Annie smiled her embarrassed twisted grin. Tears formed in Laurie’s eyes.

But I went on, “Be sure, Jesus sees and he cares about you. He knows what you suffer to merely live each day. If nobody else understands, He understands.” There was a collective sigh of relief that filled the room.
All of us need to know that our lives are important to someone. All of us need to know that being last in line isn’t the worst thing that can happen. All of us need to understand that somehow the printer will begin to work again and the simple things will get done.

Have you ever has such identity with your members that you felt that their problems, were your problems? How were you able to communicate with them that you understand their hurts?

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Because almost everyone is much too busy to check their computer for new updates on this blog,  I’ve not been too concerned about having trouble with my computer.  Over the months it has been doing some pretty interesting things.  However, I learned to NOT turn it off and it seemed to operate slowly but with the grace of an old sted my grandpa owned named Prince.

My computer Prince was dying.  When I could not longer trick it into starting, I called my good friend, Sam.  He dropped all his commitments and came to help me and Prince.  We had a wonderful time with his family over a supper of pasta.  Then he worked for hours.  His diagnosis for Prince was that I would lose it in a couple of days unless major surgery was done.  We (he) replaced the hard drive and the ram.  Now it’s running like a charm and the renovation only cost me $150.   I have 1 tarabyte of memory and 1 gb of ram. 

Can we ever replace good friends and family?  As we run around getting gifts and groceries for the perfect dinner and Christmas day, keep remembering the Sams who give up their time and bring their families to share and repair.  Thank you to all the folks who sacrifice to help me and my family.  We are blessed.

For as long as I’ve been doing the Special Gathering Weblog, I’ve noticed that this blog receives several hits a day from our Special Gathering Website.  I’ve asked and found no one who was linking from our Special Gathering Website.  Well, last night the mystery was solved. 

Last evening, a group of people from Special Gathering of Melbourne gathered at our home for dinner.  The Special Gathering of Indian River is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We exist to evangelize and disciple people who are developmentally disabled.  There are two programs, Melbourne and Vero.  In the course of conversation, one of our volunteers was interested in knowing more about our blog.  She teaches the computer class at a local agency.

In Adult Education Classes, local agencies around the country are teaching basic computer skills.  The one she teaches is at Brevard Achievement Center in Rockledge.  She told me, “Everyday, Andy and Peter come into computer class.  They first go to the Special Olympics website.  Then they go to the Special Gathering website.  Then they click around from there.  I’d like for them to be able to go to your blog.”

“Oh,” I said, laughing.  “They’re already coming to our blog.  It has to be that they are the people who are coming each day to visit from the Special Gathering website.”

Well, Andy and Peter, this is for you.  Hello and Welcome!  Please visit us at our new weblog.  You can click on to Special Gathering Stories  by clicking on to these words or go to the side bar of this column.  It is the one that says, Links.  This is a blog developed especially for you. 

If you’d like to contribute to it, you can comment.  You can also e-mail me at lhoward@specialgatherings.com .  Or just give any information to your program leader and s/he will see that I get it.  Again, welcome and enjoy!

Early this morning, I updated and published our daily blog–on the computer.  Later in the morning, I worked on The Special Gathering of Indian River upcoming board meeting–on the computer.  In the afternoon, I renewed my corporate papers, paid some bills, looked up an address, sought some important information regarding disabilities, tried to get my printer working, worked on my income statement, updated our data base–all on the computer.

Like most people I have an enormous love/hate relationship with my computer.  And frankly, I’m not sure that our small ministry could exist without our computers.  The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community that operates in eight cities and two states.  We minister on a face-to-face basis each week to about 350 to 400 individuals who are intellectually disabled.  We have two full-time staff members and 6 part-time staff members.  We keep our budget by not owning anything and doing nearly everything on our computers.

We manage and update our web-based data regularly.  We have a newsletter that we publish as a small fraction of the cost of what it would be without a computer.  We organize, rearrange, download, write, upload and communicate with our computers.

But we usually produce a product (in our newsletters and publications) that is first-class.  We have received phone inquiries from large churches in our geographic area asking how we can do what we do with the budget we have.  Of course, the answer is the computer. 

But today, my printer went down and I can’t get it to work.  I know it is a simple thing that has gone wrong but I can’t figure out what it is.  I’m frustrated and upset.

At times like these, I catch a glimpse of what it must be like to be one of my members who is developmentally delayed.  There seems to be no way that I can overcome the printer obstacle that faces me.  One Sunday, as I shared with our members the joy of living as a Christian, I could tell something was missing for them.  I stopped.  “I know,” I said, “this must sound almost like a foreign language to you.  We are always last in line.  Always waiting for someone to help us so we can do what seems simple to other people.”

The room was frozen with silence.  Annie smiled her embarrassed twisted grin.  Suddenly, tears formed in Laurie’s eyes.

But I went on, “Be sure, Jesus sees and he cares about you.  He knows what you suffer to merely live each day.  If nobody else understands, He understands.”   There was a collective sigh of relief that filled the room.

All of us need to know that our lives are important to someone.  All of us need to know that being last in line isn’t the worst thing that can happen.  All of us need to understand that somehow the printer will begin to work again and the simple things will get done.

Have you ever has such identity with your members that you felt that their problems, were your problems?  How were you able to communicate with them that you understand their hurts?