Special Needs Ministry: Seeing the abilities in people with disabilities (August 2021 Newsletter)

A story to build empathy and understanding of people with special needs in our congregation.

I Corinthians 12:12, 21-23: 12 “Just as a body, though one, has many parts,
but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. . .
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you! . . .
22 On the contrary,
those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” (NIV)

Nolan is a connector. He loves people and loves helping them. It’s what makes him a great usher. Nolan is also a young man with special needs. He has a seizure disorder and is developmentally disabled.

When Nolan approached confirmation age, a pastor at his family’s former church asked his mother, Louise, “What would you like Nolan to learn?” Louise’s response was, “I don’t think God put Nolan on earth for us to teach him. I think God put Nolan on earth to teach us.”

Everyone within our church family can help us grow as the body of Christ. Our members with special needs often illustrate qualities such as endurance, trust, and an unbiased acceptance of others. They may also challenge us to realize that our own abilities are truly gifts from God, and not something to be taken for granted. They help us to slow down and take the time to look at what God values instead of what the world values.

As a member of the Special Needs Steering Committee, Louise suggests we try to be encouraging. “It can be work to bring a family to church, especially if you have a child with special needs. If I see frazzled parents at church, I’ll thank them for getting their kids to God’s house. Positive encouragement of any kind is helpful.”

Another tip: meet people with disabilities on their turf. “The pace might be slower and there may be challenges.” Regardless, Louise hopes we take the time to reach out. “We have appreciated all of the people at SOTV who have taken the time to visit with Nolan and encourage him!”

The Special Needs Ministry continues to work on identifying the congregation’s needs and how to support them. If your family has a request or suggestion, or if you’d like to get involved with the ministry as a volunteer, please contact Kari Slotten at kari.slotten@sotv.org.