by Meaghan Wall, Pastoral Leader of Special Needs
If you walk past one of the GIFT Ministry Classrooms on a Sunday morning, you’re probably going to see what appears to be chaos. You might see someone spinning in an egg chair. You might see one of our Tweeners working on an iPad. You might even see someone lying on the floor with their shoes off as if they’re relaxing. Many times people see what they perceive as simple childcare on a Sunday morning, but actually there is a lot more going on. For families with special needs children, childcare for their kiddos is great. For the church, however, childcare is not what it’s all about. At Stonebriar Community Church we believe our purpose, while special needs kids and adults are in our building, is to teach the love of Christ and how each of them can have their own personal relationship with Him. We want them to be safe, yes. We want mom and dad to have the freedom to worship without worrying about their child being cared for, yes. But more importantly, we want every child or adult with special needs to leave our church on Sunday morning knowing a little more about who Christ is, what He did for them, how much He loves them, and how He wants a relationship with them.
A couple of years ago I was walking in the elementary hallway with one of our students who has autism. He never seemed really engaged when we were talking about the Bible stories or how much Christ loved him, but I was hoping he was at least hearing what we were saying. As we walked past the huge timeline of the Bible that was displayed along the wall, I started asking a few questions about some of the major events. I started by pointing to the beginning and asking, “Who created us?” His response was immediate, “God.” As we walked down the timeline, we arrived at the cross. I asked, “What does this have to do with us?” His response again was immediate, “That’s the cross that Jesus died on for me.” Wow! I’d heard him talk about school, his gaming system, how he wanted to go eat after church, but I’d never heard him talk about his faith. It was in that instant that I knew all the things we had been talking about in class and all the times his mom and dad had been talking about Christ at home had been sinking in. He KNEW Christ. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer or walk the aisle but he KNEW Christ.
It is because of stories like his that we continue to share the love of Christ every Sunday in the GIFT Ministry. We might never know how many ears are hearing and hearts are processing but I’m convinced when we get to heaven, stories of transformation will be shared.
Click here to learn more about the special needs ministry at Stonebriar Community Church.