My eleven years as a volunteer disability ministry leader have been an ongoing learning experience. Most recently, the Lord has shown three things:
1. Never lose sight of the mission.
It’s so easy to let daily tasks of ministry take your focus away from why the ministry was started. The mission statement for our disability ministry is: “to make disciples within the disabled community by demonstrating Christ’s love, and equipping the church to minister so ALL might fellowship, worship, and serve.” When I think about it, it’s all about Christ’s love. We must love others enough to share His love and truth. We need to love enough to present the word of God in a way that all can understand. We need to reflect Jesus’ love to those who have disabilities that may wear us out at times. We need to love others enough to make it possible for them to be part of the church. We also need to love those who don’t have disabilities enough that we open their world to some pretty special people.
2. Don’t take it personally. Volunteers come and go.
Over the last few years, several of our volunteers have stepped down. Some were very gifted, had an amazing heart for those with disabilities, and had been part of the ministry for a long time. I must admit, a thought would creep in like “what am I doing wrong?” or “how will we replace them?” Talk about lack of faith! Now the ministry is experiencing a season in which we’ve received many requests from people who want to volunteer. On top of that, volunteers are being recruited by other volunteers in the ministry as well as in the church body. What a faith builder that is! God will provide. It’s about His plan and His timing. And it most certainly is not about me!
3. Prayer is central to the ministry.
One component of our ministry is Friendship Club, a Bible Study for adults eighteen and above who have developmental disabilities. Randy, a volunteer we call our Prayer Warrior, collects prayer requests before our meeting begins. He is mobbed!! Our friends and mentors alike can’t wait to get their requests on the list, so Randy can pray over them for all to hear during our meeting. This system also helps everyone know what to pray for until our next gathering. What a blessing to our friends with disabilities who may be separated from family, have difficult situations within their group homes, or may experience health concerns.
Parents of those with disabilities need prayer. If they realize how important prayer is to those in the ministry, they will ask for it. Knowing someone is praying for you can be a comfort, a stress reliever, and assurance that someone cares. What a privilege it is to share the burdens of those affected by disability with our heavenly father!
Thank you, Lord, for the lessons you are continually teaching me. May I be open to all you have for me.
Susan Hewer is co-leader, along with her husband Scott, of “In His Image” the special needs ministry at Calvary Chapel of Oxnard, CA. Scott & Susan have enjoyed many years as special education teachers, but feel very blessed to be part of the growing field of disability ministry in their “retirement” years. They have been married for thirty-eight years and have one wonderful daughter, Gina.