(An open letter)
Dear Pastors of churches with inclusive and/or special needs ministries,
As a parent of children with special needs, I want to say a heartfelt “Thank You!”
Thank you for following Jesus’ example when He ministered to those who were sick and disabled. He healed those who were sick. More importantly, He shared the Good News that they, the social outcasts, could be saved from their sin through asking forgiveness, repentance and trusting in Him as their King and Savior giving them eternal life and eventually perfect bodies.
And now, you as a pastor, decided to literally follow Jesus’ example, and have humbled yourselves to serve those who largely go unnoticed and untouched, this unreached people group in America. The love you have for these children, teenagers and adults has helped you mount unsurmountable obstacles in serving them. You’ve worked and prayed harder than you ever have for the right people to join in your quest to serve your whole city, not just certain demographics. You’ve sought out training, put modifications in place in your buildings, classrooms, and curriculum. You taught your congregation by example, that truly ALL are welcome as the sign on your billboard says.
Your church is an oasis and healing place for those shunned and turned away by other churches. You took your job seriously as a pastor and didn’t make excuses to do what God has called you to do, like so many other churches have done. You realized that you could be obedient in ALL that God has called you to do or not. And it was at that point, you made the decision to not harden your heart to those closest to God’s heart. It broke your heart to turn away people and so you said you wouldn’t, and now you have proved it by your actions.
It would’ve been easy to say to parents and family members that it was their job to share the Good News with their children and family with special needs and left it at that. But you took it on as your job. You didn’t say that there wouldn’t be enough volunteers for individualized attention and leave it at that. You prayed, sought out and God provided! I want you to know that as a parent of children with special needs, I am forever grateful for our entire family to be included in the family of God. Thank you for sharing in the work, lightening our load, supporting us in teaching our children and family about Jesus. I know already that God is blessing you and your churches due to your obedience but I am praying even more blessings upon you. In particular, I would like to heartily thank Pastor Perry Noble at NewSpring Church, where our family attends. The way to a mama’s heart is through her kids and you have touched mine more than words can say.
There are all kinds of methods to grow a church. The real secret to God blessing your church in all ways is your special needs ministry. And if any church pastor is serious about church growth, adding a special needs ministry that includes Bible teaching, will be the way God grows your church.
There’s so much more I want to say and words just cannot express how much I thank you for loving God and loving your neighbors. You didn’t theorize, you acted on the following verses and love your neighbor as yourselves.
” ‘But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?’ And he said, ‘The one who showed mercy toward him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same’ “ (Luke 9:33-36).
Even if you are not a pastor, in your own circle, how can you increase your outreach to those with special needs?