The special needs class studies the lesson
Pastor Demas and family with Sue
The special needs folks participate fully in church activities
They have already overcome one hurdle by obtaining a building permit, which is not always the easiest to get, but have few funds to start the foundation for a bigger building. The men work every Saturday cutting down marabou trees (lots of thorns) in order to earn money for construction materials.
However, I found their ministry to special needs persons compelling. Partially attributable to the natural environment and partially to genetics (i.e. close family members who should never have married), there are a large number of special needs persons here, particularly a combination of deaf and blind (the same as Helen Keller) and also those who are mentally handicapped.
A Baptist pastor and his wife lead a ministry for the deaf that teaches sign language so those in many churches can translate the sermon and other church activities. It is beautiful to watch their faces as they communicate, even “singing” with their hands.
I was totally at a loss as to how the pastor was going to introduce me to his neighbors, a brother and sister who were both deaf and blind. He carefully took their hands in his, making movements over different parts of their bodies (not like sign language as I have seen before) to communicate that I was the guest speaker and a foreigner. I received a big hug from both. They understood the introduction better than I did; I had to ask for a translation later.
On Sunday morning, all the Sunday school classes joined together so I could give the lesson. I couldn´t believe that they had put the special needs class together with everyone else, but I gave their teacher a sheet with Bible study questions on it. As each group studied, I watched their class with special interest. The teacher managed to communicate the lesson to her five students. At the end, each student stood to give their answers to one of the last questions, which the teacher then translated to us! It was obvious they had understood the lesson!
These folks are not only ministered to, they also participate in the ministry of the church. One young man, who is deaf and blind, works repairing bicycle inner tubes and is a tithing church member. During the special anniversary celebration, he participated confidently in the dramatic presentation about the church history.
Your gifts and prayers support Christian outreach and your brothers and sisters in Christ like those mentioned above. Although I don´t specifically work in special needs education, I do work to support churches and persons as they grow in vision for their Christian service – and you play a very important part in that.Just a mini sermon from this experience—God uses us for his purposes if we are willing, no matter how great or small we think we are, no matter our supposed limitations. Let us all seek to let God use us for God´s glory!