Sorry, we are all out of rooms!
But, my wife is with child and will soon give birth and we are so far from home! I am sorry but WE DO NOT HAVE ROOM
Sound familiar? If you are cognizant of the Christmas story at all, you will recognize the words, “NO MORE ROOM” as a vital part of the story. The part of how The Savior, Jesus Christ came into the world many years ago in a stable. Joseph searched for just a simple room. A room, a room I am sure consisted of very little just so that his wife Mary could give birth to the Son of God, the Savior of all people. However, what did they encounter??? STILL NO ROOM.
Now, move forward several thousand years to 2014. As I encounter special needs parents from all over, I hear the same thing about our modern day churches, no room. No room in regards to their children who have special needs…. STILL NO ROOM! The words may not be exactly the same or said in the same manner, but they are received with the same underlying tones of unacceptance and judgement. Although it may not seem the same as it did in Joseph and Mary’s time, the actions or lack of actions are parallel.
There is not ONE denomination that has a corner on this situation. Statistics report only 7% of churches have any type of special needs ministry. As a follower of Christ and as a parent of a special needs child, I applaud those forward Godly thinking churches who are included in that small 7% percentage. The churches and their leaders who have taken that bold step and said, we love you as you are, we are here for you, how can we help. Here are few things to ponder for you the individual, as well as the church as you begin 2014:
1. WWJD….. I am not very fond of the acronym, but it is very fitting for this article. What would Jesus do? Have you ever really stopped to think about that?? I believe he probably would heal some of them, YES I believe he still does that in case you wondered! I also believe he would have the children at his feet. He continuously stated in his word for the little children to come unto Him. Jesus also said for us to come to him as a child, which again speaks of his love for children. He talked a lot about children and never once can I find where he shunned any of them away, despite their behavior, their lack of communication or their social skills.
2. Everyone has a Soul….. Least we forget that we are all made in his image. And although sometimes we may wonder, God doesn’t make mistakes!! Over the past year, I have had several parents share their story of how the leadership at their “former” church told them it was ok if they came back; but their special needs child was not welcome due to their “Special Needs” Many of you, I am sure you find that hard to believe. How a pastor, a children’s pastor or a board member of a church could say such a thing; but believe me when I tell you not only can it happen, but it does. God sees souls, he doesn’t see race, he doesn’t see disabilities, or other human characteristics. When as humans and Christ followers we begin to remember that everyone has a soul, we will become more understanding of others shortcomings and weaknesses. Check out this great video on how God sees our souls
3. Isolation……. Most families with a special needs child(ren) already feel isolated from the “normal” world; to only discover the church fails to welcome their entire family as part of their congregation and into their services?? This recalls to my mind a mention of snakes to some pharisees in the Bible found in Matthew 23:33. There are a lot of parents of special needs children who grew up in an “every time the doors were open” lifestyle until as adults a special needs child entered their lives. Do not isolate them any more because according to statistics the divorce rate in this demographic is over 85%!! Yes, ……..85%!!!
4: This is a Mission Field…… right in your own backyard: your neighborhood, your town, your city and your state. You do not even need to leave the friendly confines of your community in order to find a number of these families with special needs children who may or may not be attending even one church service. If the family does go, it most often consist of only part of the family; with the special needs child and one parent staying home or the spouses alternating services. As families, we all know that situation will not work for very long. As members of mission minded churches we often hear this scenario, ” Oh we are going to the (uttermost parts of the world) because we need to take the word to them and they need Jesus”. I couldn’t agree more, but doesn’t that apply to everyone? Doesn’t everyone need Jesus? I also hear this one…..”Well, we don’t have any special needs families in our church”. If you noticed, I never said, they were already in your church BUT they are in your community I assure you. There may even be families in your church that you just aren’t aware of because you were not providing any services for them.
These are just a few points to think about, ponder or even act upon. In the parable found in Matthew 18:11-14, Jesus said to leave the 99 and go after the one. He is still asking us to do this today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, Hebrews 13:8, his commandments to us have not changed or varied. I believe in my heart, that there are a lot of people in local churches across this country and world who want to help; but find themselves unsure of how or what to do to HELP…. I certainly understand. I was in that same place numerous years ago. If God can teach me and show me how to help, then I have no doubt He can and will do the same for you! My prayer is that no special needs parents, children or siblings ever hear the words or endure the action again of STILL NO MORE ROOM
God Bless you!!
Founder, Speaker and Director
Orange Shirt Ministries