The Spirit of the Almighty Lord is with me
because the Lord has anointed me
to deliver good news to humble people.
He has sent me
to heal those who are brokenhearted,
to announce that captives will be set free.
~ Isaiah 61:1, GWT ~
It’s only the third day of school here in Southeastern Wisconsin, and already my heart aches as my youngest tells tales of being ostracized and marginalized by classmates. Because of her social deficits and various diagnoses, she has faced an uphill battle with gaining the acceptance of her peers.
Her challenge caused me to reflect on what God is sending us to do in the field of special needs ministry. One of those duties is to help lift the agonizing isolation that can come to those with disabilities and their families. Whether it be personal experience, a tug of the heart or unique skills, for some reason we have been placed in the position to offer these children of God a lifeline like no one else can.
Each human life needs the sense that they are valued and loved. No matter what aspect of special needs ministry we find ourselves in, we have the precious opportunity to offer that affirmation. A Sunday School class could be the only time during a kid’s week where they are warmly welcomed and given a sense of belonging. Respite care may be one of the few opportunities where a parent gets a sense that someone cares about their need for a break. Support groups may give caregivers their only chance to feel that their not weird or misunderstood. Summer camps may be the one time of year where there’s the fun, recreation and laughter that other “normal” people enjoy.
While serving this community can bring any of the frustrations and exhaustion that any ministry presents, we have a precious privilege like few others. Being Christ’s ambassador of hope, being that lifeline of connection, offering the ministry of presence, and bearing the Light of the World in the oppressive darkness of isolation is a great privilege. Be encouraged, my fellow workers! And never stop thinking of ways to live out Isaiah 61:1 to this population who so desperately needs it!