love/ləv/noun: love 1. an intense feeling of deep affection.
synonyms: compassion, unselfishness, togetherness
A large part of why we started this blog is to share our hearts for special needs ministry, now more than ever. Since 2011, Arielle has worked in this area in hopes to provide support to those in churches, and other communities, the tools needed to fully include people with ability differences. We wholeheartedly believe in full inclusion, that is, to include every person with all ability levels in the same activities as their neurotypical peers. We believe in it because we have seen it work. It is good for the person with the disability, for their peers and volunteers that work with them and for the entire community.
“Every person has a purpose. We are charged with finding the gold in them.”
Persons with Ability Differences
We love that so many churches are stepping out of their comfort zone and starting up special needs ministries. What we are seeing in most of these churches is that the ministry appears mostly separate from the rest of the community. For the person with the disability, this may not be the most beneficial for them. Without a doubt, every person is capable of having a relationship with Jesus and learning. We may not be witness to it, and we may never be witness to it, but we should not lean on our own understanding of what, where, when, and how that relationship looks. We believe it can be every person’s mission to provide the opportunities needed to further cultivate that relationship. Having these persons remain in a stand-alone classroom, separated from others, removes the possibility for them to thrive in their community and have access to the same level of learning as everyone else.
Peers and Volunteers
Over the years we have seen just how impactful building relationships with people who have ability differences can be. The love one develops for “their person” they serve is something that is overwhelmingly beautiful. We have seen lives changed by this ministry in ways we did not see coming, and many of those moments were with the peers and volunteers. One might go into this ministry thinking, “Oh! This will be so good for that kid with autism!”, but please hear us when we say the biggest change you will see is in the hearts of the servers and peers. God wants us to see everyone the same. No one is more or less important. Every person has a purpose. We are charged with finding the gold in them. Once your community sees this first-hand, it changes everything.
Families in this community know how truly important it is to have the chance to worship together, have respite care for their person with ability differences and believe with their whole hearts their child is loved and protected. This is deeply rooted in the married couple’s need to have time to reconnect. Sometimes, the church is the only time that is possible.
It has been our experience that churches and other communities desire to provide an inclusive environment for those with special needs. Their hearts want every precious person that walks through their doors to experience each aspect possible but they may not have the resources to do so.
We believe this has been a calling in our lives; to give churches and communities the tools and resources needed to achieve their goal. Arielle has been fortunate to meet with churches on a consulting basis to guide them so they can accomplish that desire. In this section of The Lewis Pride, you will find those resources; tried and true tools, schedules, and activities that have been used to support this inclusive environment. You’ll find the vision and mission we believe to be true for any church looking to strive for this ministry.
There is no cost, no donation required. Our greatest hope is simply that you will share this resource with others.