Many of you who know me well, know that I like to read and read books that others wouldn't dream of reading, such as The Rule of Benedict. The Rule is a life guide written for monks by St. Benedict in the 6th Century and yet 1500 years later it is still relevant. Today in my reading, I learned about the responsibilities of the monastic cellarer. The cellarer was the person responsible for taking care of the supplies of the monastery and providing these supplies to the monks and guests, as needed. Now I realize that we are not monastics, but St. Benedict really wrote The Rule to be a guide for living within community not just instructions for his monks. The Rule says the cellarer is to be "someone who is wise, mature in conduct, temperate, not an excessive eater, not proud, excitable, offensive, dilatory, or wasteful, but God-fearing, and like a parent to the whole community." Further in this day's portion of the rule St. Benedict quote scripture, 1 Timothy 3:13, "They who serve well secure a good standing for themselves."
As I read the commentary each day for the daily reading of The Rule, it always amazes me how much I should apply to Special Needs ministry, today, perhaps more so than any other day I have read. The author of this commentary of The Rule, Joan Chittister, says "The one who has power and resources, must know for certain that 'they will be held accountable for all of them on the day of judgement.' I know already that you are asking who is them and who has the power and the resources. Anyone who has a ministry or a calling to work with special needs is the one holding the power and the resources. As one called to Special Needs Ministry, I feel that my greatest resource is the passion and love God has given me for all persons and their families touched by special needs, not just for my son and his friends. I want to touch and help as many families as I possibly can and earnestly seek ways to do so. Yet in this ministry the one thing I think we must all understand is our calls for supplies or needs or help will not usually come from 9am to 5pm, the normal business hours. These are the sick, the hurting, the ones who carry burdens, and the ones with needs so we must expect that their needs will come at unexpected hours. So to the many who work around the world I ask, "are you ready to be bothered at 3am tomorrow morning in the service of the ones we have been called to serve?" We have been called to care for the least of these and be "Jesus in Skin" to a special population that Jesus cared for every day He walked on this earth. I say to my Lord, "Here I am, call me". What is your answer?
JOY in CHRIST,
I know that many church congregations wonder why there should be a special ministry for special needs or disabilities. So as I start my first post in this blog, I'm going to answer this question from the words of Jesus, for as we start this journey together all should understand that I consider the Words of Christ to be the absolute truth against which I compare everything.
Caring for the disabled or special needs did not begin in the New Testament with the ministry of Jesus, but actually began in the Old Testament. Take for instance when David cared for the son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth. After becoming King of Israel, he asked that all the relatives of his best friend Jonathan be brought to him so that he could care for them. Mephibosheth was injured, as the family was fleeing from David's armies, but David brought him into the King's house and Mephibosheth ate at the King's table; 2 Samuel 9:13 "So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate at the King's table regularly. Now he was lame." But this did not hinder David, he cared for Mephibosheth and honored his promise to a dear friend, Jonathan.
And if you question how God feels about the special needs persons of the world, I suggest reading Psalm 139 and then Isaiah 35. From Isaiah 35:4-6, "Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you."
v5-6 "Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute will shout for JOY.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
and streams in the Arabah."
Wow, I don't know about you, but my son is profoundly deaf and has undergone replacement of both hips so he doesn't run like a young boy any longer, so these are promises that I cling to. I wait for fulfillment of these promises because I know my God is faithful, and while I wait I will praise Him for all that He has done in our lives.
Now if the above verses weren't enough to convince you that God has a special place and special promises for those who are disabled let me turn your attention to one of my favorite verses in the New Testament. In Matthew 11, when the disciples of John asked Jesus if he was the Expected One he answered in verse 4-5 "Go and report to John what you hear and see; the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them."
Jesus didn't come for the mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. He came for the sick and the poor. Jesus came to release us from the bonds of sickness, mental illness, financial difficulties, and all the burdens weighing down this sin ridden world. So take heart my friends, Jesus is not for the "typical, normal" people, but for the special needs of every kind to release us from the bonds, to set us free - allowing us to live a life of JOY.
Won't you join me in the journey?
JOY in CHRIST
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