This week part of our Missionary family has been on a missions trip with another ministry who has camps for people with disabilities in NW Minnesota. Tim and Marceaux are being caregivers to two young men with both physical and mental disabilities. John, Jen and I are speakers in a chapel service for about 40 campers. This camp has two separate chapels for people with higher and lower cognitive levels. Our chapel is for those with a lower cognitive level.
We must teach in different ways to reach their learning level and social level. We are forced to be slower in our delivery, and simpler in our teaching. We must use very concrete illustrations and make sure to have only one point we teach in each lesson. Our songs are sung slower, with fewer words, and with simpler melodies. All of the people that are in our chapels are adults so we walk a fine line of not ever wanting to be demeaning with child type teachings or songs. So it is a great exercise for us to really plan allot, think allot and work together to minister to a group that is always overlooked.
There are no discipleship materials for this group, no websites to look up bible studies, or even books to help us to teach a group of people very hungry for Jesus. We must create each lesson, trying to lean on a little bit of experience we do have. Almost all of the group does not attend church, mainly because they simply do not fit into any class, structure, group, or ministry that currently exists in any church. Yet each person in this group has made a decision for Jesus over the years at this camp.
This group of people are gifted by God with gifts not always seen in the church; they have expressed an unconditional love and acceptance. They have not tried in any way to hide their feelings, their good or bad behaviors, or their intentions from us , each other, or their caregivers; they are honest. They show us Jesus in way few ever get o experience.
So how is it that a group of people so full of gifts and love are not using their gifts in corporate worship, discipleship and outreach in any church? I have spent many years trying to understand, and have spent many years hurting for this group. One of the things that has become obvious in our ministry is that a group such as this, understands the concept of being forsaken. Yes forsaken, you know, it is what Jesus experienced on the cross from God. I have no concept of it, I cannot relate: I am loved, I have been adored, I have been accepted, I have been given every earthly blessing and have had every need filled. Those who sit in our chapel understand it though.
Tim's camper Curt has expressed it this week. Generally he doesn't talk, usually no one cares, always he is shunned, yet this week he speaks, this week he communicates, because some one loves him. What a blessing to walk with someone who has such a connection to the cross, someone who relates to how Jesus was rejected; for us. That is power, that is God working.
So you ask what am I saying here? is Curt only valuable because he hurts and is rejected? No I am saying Curt is a child of God, Just like me, and he has gifts, just like me. But he is so important to the church because he loves, even if he is not loved by others. Because he has only good intentions and does not want to hurt anyone, even though he has been so hurt. He is honest even though he is lied to, he is accepting even though he has been rejected. those are real gifts, powerful gifts the church cannot be without. I Come with the baggage that can say don't love because others have not loved me how they should, don't give because others have taken, don't be honest because everyone lies.
Father God help us to find people like this who know you in ways we cannot begin to understand, and help them use their gifts to reveal you in all your incredible glory. If the gates of hell are to be attacked, than the church needs to have its full arsenal.