Yesterday our church had a guest speaker. His ministry is devoted to bringing the good news of the Gospel to children and young people with special needs. The fact that he is also a parent of a special needs child is a great testament to what he believes. The one thing needful for those with disabilities as well as their families is to know they have a hard road ahead, but that God is with them through the journey. I was struck by one thing he had to say. He mentioned the that there are still places in the world that believe having a disabled child is tantamount to being cursed by God. Those with special needs are often looked upon in a different way and even scoffed by society right here in our own country.
On Wednesday of this week, the theatre I have been associated with for the past two years is producing the musical version of “Aladdin, Jr.,” which includes a cast of special needs kids. Each child has some kind of disability, whether it be emotional, physical or medical. They have been paired with mentors who have some theatrical experience and have been working together for the past four months. In that time, they’ve been learning lines, lyrics and music to songs, choreography and how exciting it is to be part of an experience like this. They’ve also developed lasting friendships and realize they can do something they never thought possible.
My church is planning a ministry devoted to bringing the Gospel to those with special needs. We were given an example of how this would be implemented with music, various musical instruments, interaction and a simple Bible message that includes them. My theatre friends are in their second year of producing stage shows designed to showcase abilities rather than disabilities.
It occurs to me that we are all people with special needs. In spite of what society has to say about abortion, each life is a gift from God. He knew us before our birth. He crafted us in a unique way – different from each other, yet the same. Some of us have more financial problems than others. Some struggle with relationships. There are those who suffer from anxiety, depression, anger or fear. Those who bully are often as much in need as those being bullied. Many grow up in poverty, believing there is no hope for them. Even those who have great wealth have their problems.
Every human being has some kind of need. We may not look that way on the outside, but inside hearts are breaking and longing for repair. We all need to know that we have a purpose in life – that what we do matters – that someone loves us beyond measure – that there is hope. The only One who can fill those needs is the One who came to live among us. He experienced all the pain, suffering, hatred, grief and sorrow that we do. He knows full well what we’re going through. He laid down His life so that we could some day live with Him in paradise.
We all have special needs. Some are harder to overcome than others, but through faith in the One who created life, we can endure it. When we know we’re loved and treasured by God, we can move mountains.