Ok - I’m a kid’s worker and I believe in evangelism amongst children. I have a passion to see ALL kids responding to God and growing in faith.
But when we think of evangelism and work with kids, where do those with disabilities and special needs fit in? Are they even part of our thinking when we write our evangelism plans and goals? It is sad that in many churches, children in general are not part of the official outreach programme, but children with special needs and disabilities? Well…….
When we think special Needs and disability, are we tempted to see the problems? Or can we see beyond potential difficulties and see firstly, a child and then the potential for faith and a life lived with God?
It is always a temptation to not see the child, but the diagnosis instead. We’re tempted to recruit people to a problem that needs sorting out rather than asking people to catch the vision for enabling this child to be everything they can be in Christ.
When I run training days, I find people want me to fix the “problem” with a quick fix or a bandage. It takes a long time to shift the focus from ‘problem’ to ‘purpose and potential’
Let’s be realistic here - usually, the only children with disabilities in our children’s work are those whose families are already part of the church family. Our mid week clubs have children with special needs who come from families on the edge of church. With both of these groups - we struggle, so how on earth can we cope with bringing more in? (Rhetorical question!)
As a teenager, and for many years after I worked on a summer camp for children with physical disabilities - I loved it! Many children came to know Jesus in a very real way, but…… Where could they go after camp? For a child with severe cerebral palsy, whose parents don’t want to go to church - how do we get them there, and how do we keep them there? In rare cases - we managed it, but as a rule, we didn’t.
I’m still in touch with these ‘kids’ - many of whom are now adults. They don’t follow God, some are into “crystals” (One even has an advanced degree in the use of them!) My heart breaks!!!
So who is reaching out to the disabled and vulnerable kids in our communities?
I’ve already been ‘realistic’ - now I’m going to be brutally honest…… Many of these children have short lives - I’ve been to far too many funerals! Happily, some of those have been for children still walking with God and a huge witness to their friends, but equally - there are so many more who are not in relationship with Christ. These kids have less time to hear the Gospel than others - the need is urgent!
We believe in the Gospel, we believe in spreading it, but do we believe in taking it to some of the most vulnerable kids in our communities - is “The Church” brave enough to step up to the challenge?