Friday, June 24, 2011
Thinking Outside the Box
"There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.” (Daniel 5:11-12, NIV)
Serving families who have a child with special needs can be an interesting proposition. To the well-intentioned, having a party with all sorts of giveaways for a child can be a speedy way to soothe the conscience and feel like you can check your act of kindness off the list for the day. But is that what this population really needs?
In the story of Daniel, he was highly regarded by his captors because of his mind. Not only was he wise, but he was also connected to God and known for outside-the-box mental acuity. Because of how he thought, people saw his great potential and ability to bring about the best outcome in a situation.
As I reflect on these qualities in Daniel, I think much of the same is required in serving families living with a disability. Just as practical things like food and drink are addressed in the Bible, so shouldn't we be thinking about meeting such needs in our care of one another? For our part, SNAPPIN' MINISTRIES has tried to think of these basic essentials by being innovative in providing parents with gift cards for gas, groceries and a dinner out. I knew there was value to our creative thinking when a mother expressed at one of our meetings how she went without shampoo because in her exhaustion, she just couldn't bring herself to load her daughter with CP into the car one more time that week. Our pampering gift basket provided that little something to let her know that Jesus cares about every detail of her life.
Also of note in the Bible is Daniel passionate need to be in regular connection with his God. Despite the threat of death, he continued to worship and pray each day. Why should we not seek to find inventive ways to remove the obstacles to prayer and worship to all in the special needs community? Places like Friendship Ministries provide curriculum to the cognitively impaired. Key Ministry seeks to include those with invisibilities like ADHD or autism. Rest Ministries places their emphasis on support for those living with chronic illness. Each one of these organizations is unique in their approach to making available something that the typical community takes so much for granted. And these are the very things families with special needs finds meaningful.
Our lives can be messy. The doctor's appointments, financial strains, school battles and stressful living can be things that make people keep us at arm's length. What we need from the church, and what Jesus commands, is small acts of kindness and long-term perseverance that edifies us in the daily journey.
To reach people they've never reached before, Christians will need to do things they've never done before. And the only way to get to these things is to meet those of us weighted by the daily living with well thought out, imaginative acts of loving kindness.
What sort of original acts of kindness would you like the Christian community to show you? We'd love to hear!