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5 Things I Learned After Becoming Involved in Disabilities Ministry

June 10, 2011

Once again, I am honored to feature the writing of Cassi LeTourneau on this blog.  Cassi is co-coordinator of All God’s Children Disability Ministry at Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon.  Cassi serves on the team of three lay leaders who have worked with their church staff to launch Good Shepherd Church’s special needs ministry.  I think Cassi summarizes her experiences and fresh wisdom from her new endeavor beautifully!  

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5 Things I Learned After Becoming Involved in Disabilities Ministry

#1

I learned that I could speak in front of an entire congregation without passing out.  I could stand up there with a couple of sweet friends to share our vision of inclusion with over one thousand (ONE THOUSAND!) people.  I could then talk to each of the forty-five people who expressed interest in our ministry after those services as if I had some idea of what I was doing.

I almost refused. I really wanted to.

But I’ve also learned that when God has His hand in things…you can find yourself saying “yes” despite all your best arguments.

#2

I learned that the nice, tidy picture of inclusion that I had envisioned was not always ever going to be reality.

And I’ve learned that it’s okay.

I’ll just keep showing up.  Just keep trying.

And in the meantime, these sweet families are at church; right where they need to be.

Right where we need them to be.

#3

I learned fairly quickly that just because I read a book or two (or ten) on Autism Spectrum Disorder does not make me an expert.  In fact, I could read every book ever written on the subject and I still wouldn’t be an expert.  I could take classes and volunteer in a dozen different hospitals and classrooms and to consider myself “knowledgeable” would be a stretch when ministering in this way.

Research?  Yes.

Ask questions?  Absolutely.

Pray?  Without ceasing.

#4

I’ve learned that many well-intentioned people simply do not understand special needs.  That sometimes all they need is for someone to show them. Someone like you or I to share with them the blessing that is found in the sweet smile of a boy with Down Syndrome.

I’ve learned there will always be people who don’t see things the way I do.  It’s not my job to change their hearts but it is my job to continue in what God has called me to and pray that their hearts would be softened in the process.

#5

And finally, I have learned that when churches turn these families away…already fragile hearts are broken.  Little pieces, being held together by the hope that someone else could love their precious child, are shattered.  Too often they wipe away their tears, pull themselves together and decide that church is not for them.  Sometimes that translates into feeling that God is not for them.

But God is for them.  He’s all about them.

And He would never turn them away.

-Cassi

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For more on Cassi and her service in the disability ministry of Good Shepherd Community Church, see Cassi’s personal blog www.treasuretherain.com.  For more on launching a special needs ministry, see my earlier post Starting a Special Needs Ministry

10 Comments
  1. I think this could be my favorite blog post ever. (Not just on The Incsluve Church – I mean favorite post anywhere!) Thank you, Cassi! (And thank you, Amy!)

  2. Oops, fingers faster than the brain … that should be, of course, The Inclusive Church! Sorry for the typo.🙂

  3. Excellent!! Have you ever read any of William Stillman books? He helped us with our sensitivity inventory on our church website – firstumchershey.org

  4. Laura – Your sensory inventory is awesome! I’d love to post a link to it on this blog. Let me know if you are willing. You could also post a link to the blog’s Facebook page (we get a lot of traffic there as well): http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Inclusive-Church/131211803562665

    You can email me at amy@theinclusivechurch.com

    Thanks Laura! Amy

    P.S. Glad you like this post Shannon. Cassi is a gifted writer!

  5. This is a wonderful post! I especially loved #5. God is ALL about ALL of His children. 🙂

  6. Cynthia Tillman permalink

    Amy,
    I am the special needs co-director at your Dad’s church, Dawson.I feel like I know you personally from Lindsey’s stories and after all you are Gary’s daughter. I love your post, it brought me to tears. Every point was so poignant and on target. I have been co-director for five years now and everything said rang true in my head, it was so nice to know someone else had experienced what I had. Special needs classes bring you to the core of who you are, the things of the world do not matter to them but instead the relationships, experiences, and unconditionally love are the most important things. Amy sometimes in this ministry you feel all alone but as you go Sunday by Sunday you realize that the special needs group or as we call them, ” The Happy Class” is not only accepted but loved by the church family. Your dad has been so extremely supportive of our group and Amy, I cannot ever tell you what this has meant to me and our teacher. I was so pleased to find your blog and I will continue to follow you!

    -Cynthia

  7. Thanks Cynthia for your sweet comment. Yes, I know who you are! And I am so excited about what you are doing at Dawson Memorial Baptist in Birmingham. Woo-hoo! Thank you so much for all you do to help Dawson children’s ministry include all the precious little ones! – Amy

  8. Thanks for choosing to say yes to God’s leading. #5 holds the potential to turn brokenness into healing, belonging and receiving God’s full acceptance. You participate in important ministry.

  9. Nice article. Point 4 hit home. One can not change people! Only God can. That is very liberating. Though my passion is working with people who are disabled, I will choose to spend my energy in partnering with ministries that have similar focus, and not beat my head on the wall when others don’t share the same passion.

    I will do my best, though, to educate, to help others respect people with disabilities.

    I will pray for them for God to lead them where He wants them to serve.

    I will encourage those who are wanting to enter this area.

    But, I will choose to let God change people as He wants

    Thank you for your ministry!

    Blessings,

    Michael
    http://www.passion-4-life.org

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