Thursday, April 3, 2014

REUNITED And It Feels So Good

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him...
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
~ John 12: 1-2, 9-11, NIV ~

Today is a day I wait for with joyful anticipation each year.  I am headed to the McLean Bible Church Accessibility Summit.  The nation's premier disability ministry conference, this event offers an incredible variety of workshops and vendors, both faith-based and secular.  It is my privilege to attend as an exhibitor and a speaker.  I am always blessed by the new people I meet in my role at the conference.

Yet, the real source of my joy comes from reuniting with colleagues and friends at this annual summit.  Hard at work in our own little areas of this enormous mission field, this is one of the few times the majority of us are able to connect in one place.  

Let me share with you few universal truths about WHY it is so delightful to connect with most people serving in special needs ministry:
  1. They have an incredible sense of humor. -- Given the unpredictable nature of ministering to families living with special needs, and the crazy things witnessed while serving, leaders in disability ministry are remarkably hilarious.  Face it, if we didn't laugh, we would cry all. the. time.   Instead, my colleagues have developed an amazing resiliency and ability to laugh at all the less-than-typical things they see over the years.  Subsequently, this makes these people terrific fun to hang out with outside of work.
  2. They have a faith that has been tested. -- Whether having lived the special needs life themselves or having fought for recognition and credibility in an area of ministry that is still largely untapped, disability ministry leaders are courageous, relentless servants of Christ.  Often lacking in resources while high on innovation, this group of leaders creates policy and designs standards where most churches have none.  So often wanting to give up hope, it is the faith of these leaders that helps them persevere.
  3. They have the wisdom and compassion that only comes from experience. -- Not only do these colleagues share a common bond of the hard work of a unique field of ministry, so many are also either parents, siblings or educators of children with special needs, or affected individuals themselves.  Like no one else in my life, these leaders have truly walked a mile in my shoes.
Now, I realize that most of you may not relate to this work reunion that I experience with my colleagues each year,  but I would hazard to say that you can warmly recall that feeling you get from being around someone you hold dear, who really, truly gets you.

It must have been a bit like that the night Jesus reunited with Lazarus for a celebratory dinner after he had raised him from the dead.  Can you imagine the excitement?  And the deep bond shared by these two men without even a word needing to be spoken.  Remarkable!

It is my hope that just as Lazarus caused more people to follow Jesus after what they had seen in his life, so may others be drawn to Jesus by what they see in our leadership reunion over the next few days.

PRAY:  Thank You, Father, for the gift of those who share a common bond and experience with us.  May those relationships reflect Your glory and draw others to You. 

~ Barb Dittrich

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