“So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!” (Romans 15:7, Message)
A beautiful little girl smiling brightly at me Sunday morning said, “Pastor, I love you!” I felt her reaching out and take my heart right out of my chest. She is a child with special needs and she is a very special little girl. It was a real moment of grace. God in his love, trusted her to wonderful parents and to our Woodland Church family.
If you enter Woodland from the back parking lot, you’ve been greeted by Carl, a caring and helpful man with developmental disability. He manifests faith, hope and love to our congregation and guests. Faithfully he welcomes people to Woodland with a smile. Weekly I get a big hug and a communication card from him. I’m so glad he is part of our family.
We believe that every person that walks through the doors of our congregation matters to God and is the object of his love. Therefore they matter to us. All are welcome! I hope we truly communicate persuasively and lovingly.
Listening to the news getting ready for my day, I heard Detroit native, Ron Fournier say these powerful words about his son with Aspergers. “He’s not the son that I idealized, but he’s my ideal son.” Wow! Immediately my eyes misted as I thought of all the children and people I knew who struggle with some sort of disability.
Those are wise words. “…he’s my ideal son.”
The Detroit News has an excellent article about Fournier’s new book, Love That Boy. Ron’s idea for the title came from a visit with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office. Here’s the link to the article http://goo.gl/iLTqvq.
Welcoming people with disabilities is like welcoming anyone else. Greet them eye to eye and say hello. If it appears someone needs assistance, offer it. If someone says, “I can do it.” Let them. If someone has a developmental disability speak to them and not to their parents or caregiver, just like you would to any adult or child. Be comfortable and be patient with people as they reply. And if you really want to excel at providing a welcome take time to learn about your friend, relative, or co-workers disability. You will be able to be a better friend, pray intelligently and effectively as well.