By Meaghan Wall
A few weeks ago I was making my rounds through the Special Needs classes in the church on a Sunday morning. While visiting the Tweeners Class (our specialized classroom for students 11-17 years old), I noticed one of our students, Travis, was not participating with the group and seemed to be a little upset. He didn’t want to stay in the room while the students talked about the story of Jonah so he opted to come into the lobby with me and another volunteer in order to calm down a bit.
Trying to practice what I preach to my volunteers on a regular basis, I attempted to strike up a conversation with Travis. I mentioned to him that I had just completed a class on the book of Jonah and I found out some really interesting things about the book that I never knew before. I then proceeded to ask Travis what he knew about the story of Jonah.
It was no surprise to hear that Travis could tell me the story from start to finish. After all, he’d been at our church for the past five years and I knew he’d heard the story several times. Because I wanted to hear how the Lord might be working in his life, I asked Travis to tell me the real reason God chose to put that story in the Bible. Was it really because God wants us to know we’ll be protected if we get swallowed by a fish or was there a bigger purpose for the story? To my surprise, Travis started talking to me about how God desires for us to follow Him and His plan. He told me that Jonah might not have been swallowed because he didn’t obey God but maybe Jonah was swallowed because God had a bigger plan for the pirates on the ship. He went on to tell me that God has a way of doing what He wants to be done in and through us no matter how hard we try to mess it up.
Leaving the classroom that morning, I thanked God for the small glimpse of His faithfulness to me through Travis. Travis has autism and hasn’t always been one for participating in groups. Truth be told, he’s always been a little bit of a challenge. Some days he’s happy, some days he’s ready to physically fight anyone who gets in his way. Each week, I encourage our volunteers to continue to teach the truth and depend on the Lord to take His words deep into the hearts of the children in the classroom. On this Sunday, I saw that the Lord is faithful to do what He promises when we are faithful to do what He asks of us. Not only is this true in the life of Jonah but it’s also true in the lives of each of our volunteers as we minister to those with special needs.
It’s not often you get to see the fruit of the work you do here on earth, especially when you work with children and adults who cannot communicate. When the Lord does pull the curtain back for a moment, cherish those times and allow them to be the encouragement you need to pursue the work you’ve been called to do.
Meaghan is the pastoral leader of special needs at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. She has a passion for families affected by special needs and enjoys helping churches across the country catch the vision of special needs ministry. Having graduated with a degree in social work from Texas Tech University, Meaghan is now pursuing a Master of Christian Leadership through Dallas Theological Seminary. Meaghan has one amazing husband (Michael) and two incredibly cute little boys (Jackson and Grayson) who are the loves of her life.