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The Gift

December 10, 2012

As I recently shared, I’m working on a team developing a curriculum for special needs ministry environments.  This past week one of the trial churches for this tailored curriculum emailed me the following story.  As you will discover, this story is so appropriate for this time of year. And it illustrates how kids who lack strong communications skills are often absorbing far more than we realize.

Kudos to CrossPoint Community Church in Modesto, California, for 15 years ago answering the call to better accommodate three children with unique needs.  Ironically Brian (below) was  one of those three children.  The Bridges Special Needs Ministry provides one-on-one buddies for inclusion in typical ministry environments as well as three specially tailored small group settings for participants with special needs.  Currently, the church serves approximately 35 families impacted by disability.

Last month I was in California and had the privilege of meeting with most of the children’s ministry leadership at CrossPoint (including Brian’s mom).  To say I was blessed would be an understatement.  Enjoy! ~ Amy Fenton Lee


Brian with gift 120412

The coolest thing happened in our special needs ministry one recent Sunday.  Our story for the month was on David and Jonathan, focusing on “God gives us good friends” and how Jonathan gave David gifts such as a tunic, a sword, a belt, etc.  Part of our curriculum said to show a wrapped present to help students understand the concept of a gift.  Ironically, that same Sunday I had a friend’s baby shower to attend right after church.  I decided to use my wrapped shower gift for the story illustration.  I was a little nervous because inside the box was my hand-made blanket.  But I decided to use my prepared gift for the Bible story time and I figured if I held on to it, no one would open it.

Our students and helpers were all sitting around our table when I brought out the wrapped gift. I talked about how we give gifts to friends like Jonathan and David. One student, Brian, was sitting directly across from me. As soon as he saw the present, he held out his arms for me to give it to him. Brian has very limited vocabulary and what he does say, is often difficult to understand.  Brian would motion for the wrapped gift as I kept trying to redirect back to the Bible story.  And because Brian is known for his love of Christmas, I even tried to focus Brian on how we give presents to friends at Christmas time.  He kept insisting on holding the gift so I finally looked at him and said, “Brian, I will let you hold the present but you cannot open it.”

Shortly after I handed Brian the present, he took the gift and got up from the table.  All of our class helpers became nervous, hoping he wouldn’t open up the gift.  By this point, I figured, oh well, it’s no big deal if he does. Brian proceeded to take the present and go over to our circle-time area.  I looked over to see him placing the present in front of baby Jesus in the manger that he had set up in our class earlier in the month (remember how I said Brian loves Christmas?). As Brian disappeared from my line of sight, I raised up from the table to see what he was doing.  I found him kneeling with his head bowed and hands folded in front of the wrapped gift….and baby Jesus in the nativity scene. The class helpers were completely in Awe. After running to grab my camera, I said, “Well I feel dumb.” He sat there for the longest time and never opened the present.

I’m consistently reminded that these kids have the capability to grasp a relationship with Jesus Christ far beyond my understanding. Despite having my lesson for the day planned out (which we all know how plans go in special needs ministry), I at times need to step back and let the Holy Spirit lead. ~ Kathryn Couchman


Kathryn Couchman Bio Shot

Kathryn Couchman began serving in the Bridges Special Needs Ministry at CrossPoint Community Church more than twelve years ago as junior high helper.  She has since worked in numerous roles including monthly helper, one-on-one buddy, and teacher.  Currently Kathryn leads the class of older students with learning differences.

  1. Bawling…..thanks for sharing that amazing story. xoxo

  2. permalink

    Very very moving!

    Alta Faye Fenton

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. All I can think about is the verse “the last shall be first”. Individuals, such as Brian, really do have a beautiful gift of being able to unashamedly showing their love for Jesus.

  4. Wonderful story. So touching especially for this time of year. Thank you for sharing such a tender story and for not interrupting Brian but for allowing the Holy Spirit to lead.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 4 Tools to Engage Kids with Special Needs in the Christmas Story | The Inclusive Church
  2. It was the Best Christmas Pageant Ever | The Inclusive Church

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