As I indicated in my last post, I participated in Hope Centre Ministries IN conference this spring. The IN was there to Inform, Inspire, Include, and Invite. the event did all of these.
INform: Listening to the stories of caregivers of children with significant cognitive or mental limitations provided so much more than statistics. Their stories helped form my attitudes. The resource tables provided a great variety of helpful facts and stories to help individuals and congregations learn about this part of God’s family.
INspire: The strength an humour of the presenters and caregiving participants lifted my spirits and put the challenges of my life into perspective. One of them talked about their place in the body of Christ. As long as these caregivers and the children and adults they care for are absent from the gathered body of Christ, it remains broken.
INclude: This was personally challenging. As a former teacher, I have benefited by having children with special needs in my classroom. However, I was helped to enjoy them by the schools resource team and a teaching assistant. Autism is on the rise. Children with Autism are no less precious than any other child of God, but their behaviour is extremely challenging in a group context such as a Sunday school class, children’s club or youth group. How can the church come alongside and include these unique children? Clearly, I need more information here.
INvite: I’m so glad I was invited to participate in this event. I was invited to share how we can find our stories in God’s story. One of the more inspiring Old Testament stories is the way David invited and then reserved a place at his table for Mephibosheth, Jonathon’s son with a disability. (2 Samuel 9) May God equip us to do the same.