I was in the youth pastor’s office trying to work with him on inclusion of a teenage girl with CP who was having difficulty with the worship team’s rockin’ loud music on Sundays. He was much relieved to have my help on this situation because this certainly wasn’t something he had been trained on in seminary. I explained to him that my view of working in ministry is that we are all much like a patchwork quilt. We run next to each other and even overlap in the work we do. I care for the parents of children with special needs, but the ministry I do intersects with women’s ministry, lay counseling, children’s ministry and the like. None of us labors in a vacuum.
In an even more narrowed sort of a way, the family-focused paradigm of special needs ministry is absolutely the same. And the mission field is so huge, the need so great that one ministry cannot necessarily do it all and do it well. Friendship Ministries excels at curriculum for the cognitively delayed. Key Ministry is outstanding at church training. Joni & Friends is wonderful with family retreats and their international outreach. I think you get the picture here.
As God does a mighty work in and through the Body of Christ, how much better that we buttress one another up in our work, collaborate, refer and exchange ideas rather than try to compete not only for the same souls, but the same charitable dollars. Why not learn from one another’s ideas and try to apply them to the mode of service that God has us working? With time and resources at such a premium these days, this sort of work proves us to be wise stewards of the gifts God has granted us.
We become a stable, constant, long-lasting source for a population that is very much in need. The parents need cooperation, compassion and understanding. The kids need support, acceptance and love. The churches need instruction, addressing of fears and accessibility in order to look more like Christ. And the wider world needs to see us all standing out in a more positive way than the Godless, dark society.
Without each ones specific piece, the quilt is not complete, it has holes in it and leaves the needy cold. When we remember that we are sewn together for His use as described in 1 Corinthians 12 we accomplish ministry as the Lord intended creating that full, loving quilt to wrap around the wounded.