Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Autism Goes to Church -Day 6-Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Practical Ways the Church has served our Family

Our church doesn't have a special needs ministry per se. All of my griping and groaning have not brought that about however, I must say Reid is an integral part of the community. It has been with a set jaw and selfish stubbornness that Jim and I insist on worshipping every Sunday, which means taking Reid with us.

Even in our sin and the church's programmatic void, God has seen fit to bless us richly through individual members' actions and service. Many have a heart to follow Christ...and find him seated next to Reid in the west transept. How has the church fed us when we were hungry? Let me count the ways:

10. The deacons delivered a dinner and movie gift certificate after diagnosis.

9. The church nursery readily loans videos to Reid and lets him "do the controls" for the toddlers when he comes-a-visiting.

8. Larry, a magnanimous, self-appointed greeter, makes sure we are welcomed by name every single Sunday, whether or not Reid returns the greeting.

7. Dorothea, a retired school principal, waives our late fines in the church library.

6. Pastors walk back 6 or 8 pews to say "good morning" to their buddy, Reid.

5. The music director invited Reid's fledgling band, The Kingsmen, to step out of the margins and perform last Advent to a rousing standing ovation.

4. A special ed teacher shadows Reid as an usher in the balcony.

3. Our high school youth director showed this MTV clip to orient kids before Reid joined their fellowship.

2. A faithful prayer team lifts our family in prayer almost every week.

1. For a time, Reid served as the A/V guy in the preschool room cueing up their video lesson.

I have heard wonderful stories of other churches serving hungry and tired families experiencing autism by providing laundry help, respite care, date night, mentor buddies, or comrades at an IEP meeting. Perhaps the most profound example is at Beth-El Fellowship in Fort Worth, Texas. Arlyn and Will Kantz are planting a totally inclusive, sensory-based sanctuary with many other revolutionary touches designed to include everyone in worship and church.

My sidelined motivation to formalize a program at our church has segued into an friendship with numerous other churches in San Diego. The Cohort of Special Needs Ministry sprouted quickly as an offshoot of the first Concert of Prayer as an alternate way to serve the dozen families I know who used to attend our church but don't anymore. They stopped coming when it became unwieldy with their child with autism. How many more are struggling and have not met Jesus along the way, let alone any of His modern-day servants. Where are they on Sunday morning?

Pray for more light in the darkness.

April 6
Churches and Autism

"Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day.” Isaiah 58:10

“What a wonderful God we have-he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Pray that churches will recognize the unmet needs of autism families and pursue practical ways of ministering to them.

Excerpted from Children of Destiny Turning the Tide! Prayer Thrust calendar here.

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