Fellowship. It is a word that implies togetherness, a shared bond, unity of purpose, and enjoying time with one another. Mentioned 94 times in the NIV Translation of the Bible, fellowship is something that definitely matters to God. We were made for relationship, with God and with one another. And as today's Bible verse tells us, Jesus sacrificed everything to bring us into that right relationship.
Sadly, one of the heaviest burdens a special needs parent can bear is that of isolation. When people ask, "How are you?", they have a funny way of changing the topic if your answer contains anything mentioning your child's challenges. That shutting down, closing out, and general discomfort conveyed by the typical population leaves us feeling anything other than fellowship. In fact, we can be left feeling quite alone, rejected, misunderstood, and as if we are an oddity.
But praise God for faithful servants like my colleague, Michael Woods, who shares my heart for parents and challenges just like this! Through his initiative and outreach, he has managed to draw together 20 various parent bloggers to create Not Alone Parents. January 7, 2013 represents the full launch of the new website. Mike states on the site's Facebook page that Not Alone is, "Where parents can be real, refreshed, and supported in faith as we raise kids with special needs. Whether you're caring for a child with physical, mental, behavioral or emotional challenges - we're glad you're here!" Now THAT'S fellowship!
Part of what inspired Mike was that there were numerous parent bloggers out there who lacked the cohesion one wrapper. This new one-stop community will not only provide inspirational blog posts for parents of special children, there will also be a book club and a weekly book giveaway from each of the contributing writers who have a publication available. What valuable resources for weary parents!
Additionally, for those of us who are either frequent visitors to medical facilities or who remain at home quite a bit out of necessity, that fellowship is only as far away as internet access. The ability to connect with others who are on a similar journey will be readily available to all through the Facebook page, Twitter, and even Pinterest. In my ministry experience, these online tools have been an immense gift from God to end our isolation.
I pray that you will take a look at Not Alone Parents and find yourself blessed. I can't help but look at the entire project and hear God's words from 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (NIV) What a smile this must bring to God's face as He watches us foster relationship with both Himself and one another!
(It is my great privilege to be one of the contributing writers to Not Alone Parents. I invite you to view my pre-launch post from December 28th and to look for my future posts on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.)
PRAY: Oh, Creator God, You made us for fellowship with You and with each other. Bless us as we seek to end the isolation that sin and sorrow can bring. We know that You have much better in mind for us. We were made for heaven. Thank You for helping us bring a little piece of it here to earth.