by Linda Martin
As the leader of a special needs ministry for children at a mega church in San Diego, Calif., I understand that even in the largest churches, many people don’t realize the enormity of the need for ministries to support persons with disabilities and their families. Just over four years ago when I approached our church to see how they ran their special needs ministry, I was met with the infamous reply, “We don’t really have a need at this time.” Since that time, I have spoken with numerous other churches who have echoed that same reply.
Unfortunately, the fact is that many families of children with special needs have had more than one discouraging experience in their attempts to find a church. If the church is not prepared to meet the needs of the person with disabilities, many families have, unfortunately, learned to just stay home. After all, who wants to be told that their child isn’t welcome to come back?
I know God is very aware of this need and I believe He is calling our churches to respond. In fact, you may be reading this with that feeling of I get it, God. You’re talking to me. Obedience is never easy. Take a look at Noah. He was told to build an ark (not a canoe) when there was no rain! Can you imagine trusting the voice of God to that level where you would risk taunts and stares (and probably much worse) to simply be obedient? Good thing Noah did because it saved his life and the lives of his family!
Friends, our situation is no different. We have the opportunity to step out in obedience, despite the naysayers (What about liability? What about finding volunteers? What if I’m not “trained”? What if? What if? What if?). And the best part is, your obedience could literally save the lives of many families for eternity. Wow!
Linda is a board-certified music therapist with a master’s degree in music education, music therapy. Linda serves as the program coordinator for the Autism Discovery Institute at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Calif., in addition to providing music therapy assessments and consultation in several southern California school districts. Linda developed and leads the Miracle 139 Special Needs Ministry at The Rock Church in San Diego. She also consults with California area churches looking to start or grow a special needs ministry, as well as provides training for those teaching children with special needs in Central and South America.