You may have seen Roosevelt’s mission statement in our bulletin or on our website: “All People, All of Jesus.” Beginning a disability ministry at Roosevelt is another way we are able to truly be “all people.” When I think of the disability community and God’s family, I think of Luke 14:13 where is says, “But when you host a banquet, invite the poor ,the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed.” Jesus wants all people in his kingdom and He is calling for his disciples to go out and find these people and bring them to the banquet.
Families who are affected by disability have many different barriers that prevent them from even entering the church building. Maybe their wheelchair restricts them from entering the church building, maybe their child with autism is kicked out of Sunday school, or maybe their adult son with Down Syndrome is too loud and disruptive during the service. Beyond that, when they do attend a church, their attention can be completely focused on their family member or child with a disability, so they cannot worship and fellowship with other believers. In addition, these families could be experiencing lasting damage from a church that rejected their family, making them hesitant to try church again.
The heart of a disability ministry is to intentionally invite these families into our church family and create a space where they can thrive as part of our church body. Another goal of a disability ministry is to find a place for our new church members with disabilities to serve in the church. We want to be a fully inclusive church.
What does a Disability Ministry look like?
Right now, our disability ministry is taking the form of a buddy ministry where we provide one-on-one aid, or “buddy,” to our children with disabilities during kids’ church. The main objective of a buddy program is sharing the Gospel and disciple-making just as Jesus commissioned his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Buddies provides assistance, safety, support, and friendship for kids with special needs to allow the kids to experience and understand the gospel in a way that connects and makes sense to them. These relationships between the buddies and children promote love, communion, and compassion. There are around eight trained buddies right now, but if you are interested please let me know and we would love to get you serving!
We are adding “Disability Ministry” to our church website under the Ministries tab this May, so we are hoping to have new families involved. Even if you do not serve in the buddy ministry, you can be a prayer warrior for this new ministry and for the families who will find our church. Pray for wisdom, patience, and compassion for our church body as we all interact with these families. If you have any questions or any contacts with families, feel free to contact Melody Stiles, firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on a Sunday morning.
*Photos are from a Joni and Friends mission trip to Port Au Prince, Haiti in 2014 where we served 20 kids in an orphanage for kids with disabilities. The kids were so joyful even in the midst of helplessness, and we were able to teach them about how Jesus loves them. We walked away from the orphanage with the same contagious joy.