It’s a common oversight on the part of Christians. We throw ourselves out there to “do” ministry, forgetting that our mission field begins right underneath our own roof. While we may be mindful to share the Gospel with our family, how many of us involve our immediate and extended relatives in serving those with special needs? While I’ve often seen couples serving together in disability ministry, I wonder how many of us draw our parents, our children, our siblings and other family into the work.
Might I suggest that part of our “succession plan” could include our family members? Since the early stages of our ministry, with my husband at my side, I have involved our children in serving those with special needs and their families. Whether it is leading sensory activities at our local Kids Fest booth or serving as a buddy at respite, my family has rolled up their sleeves to work alongside me. This has transformed their worldview and opened their hearts to those facing physical, emotional or cognitive challenges. They admonish their friends repeatedly over use of the ever-pervasive “R-word”. My kids have surprised me with their big-picture understanding of the great need to reach out to families living with a loved one who has a disability. Once, when I was certain that I was going to throw in the towel, my children even told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to quit. The mission was too important, they said.
Additionally, I speak with my sister who continues to perfect the inclusion program in the private Christian school she leads as principal. We discuss best practices. She asks questions. I share resources. It is a blessed exchange.
These encounters with family have surprised me far beyond expectation. While I wanted to build acceptance and gain a few extra helping hands, it has been amazing to see what God has done with each family member’s involvement. I have no idea what the future may hold. However, I do know that the pebble the Lord dropped in the water through my leadership has had a ripple affect that begins with those closest to me. My prayer is that every leader in disability ministry would, at the very least, have great influence on their family’s view towards those with unique abilities. Changing mindset one person at a time, starting at home, is a worthwhile mission indeed.
Have YOU involved your family members in disability ministry? If so, how? We would love to hear! Leave us a comment!