Special needs families long for community and connection because it is rarely offered to us anywhere else. Would your church please pray about this widely unreached mission field? If your church will not reach out to a family like mine, who will?
– Nichole Huggins, Mom of a child with autism
The term “special needs” refers to a vast array of diagnoses and/or disabilities, seen and unseen. Children and families impacted by disabilities are less likely to attend church and church activities than those without disabilities. Christ’s love compels us to welcome everyone with love, compassion, awareness, and acceptance, and reaching out to these precious children and families is a part of holistic discipleship. Each person is known, valued, and loved by God and has good gifts to offer. How might God be calling you and your church to transform the lives of vulnerable children and families impacted by special needs?
HEPHZIBAH62:4 SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY PARTNERS
Bethany Wesleyan Church, Cherryville, PA
The Autism Ministries of Bethany Wesleyan Church includes the Sunday Morning Program, a special time of worship each week, and a 4-hour group respite program that is scheduled twice a year for children up to age 21 who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. These programs uniquely minister to children with autism while enabling parents and guardians the opportunity to attend corporate worship and fellowship, as well as take a break from their responsibilities as caregivers. Dr. David Babb, Autism Ministries founder, is passionate that, “We are responsible to reach, disciple, and minister to special needs families. It comes with unique challenges and huge blessings.”
- Ministry Webpage: Autism Ministries
- Wesleyan Life: Dear Jonathon
- Contact: Dr. David Babb
Faith Friends Special Needs Ministry
College Wesleyan Church, Marion, IN
Faith Friends at College Wesleyan focuses on developing awareness and empathy for the challenges faced by families who are impacted by special needs, and offering accommodations so that church can fit everyone. The main components of the ministry are a buddy system to lend support and friendship to kids with special needs, and regular short articles in the church’s bulletin and blog to create awareness through a variety of special needs topics. Special Needs Pastor, Tim Witte, says that often kids with special needs don’t believe they have anything to offer but he has learned they “are not just kids we serve but kids that have something to offer, something we need.” College Wesleyan families who have children with special needs report they share the insightful articles with families and friends, and that they feel represented, seen, and heard.
- Ministry Webpage and Blog: College Wesleyan’s Special Needs Ministry
- Free Resource: Faith Friends (Special Needs Ministry) Online Training
- Contact: Pastor Tim Witte
Night to Shine
Tim Tebow Foundation, Jacksonville, FL
Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. In February 2021 and 2022, thousands from around the world came together through socially-distanced and virtual formats to honor and serve those with disabilities. Though the festivities looked a little different due to COVID-19, nothing could keep Faith, Hope and Love from shining as bright as ever.
- Ministry Webpage and Blog: Night to Shine
- Video: Official 2021 Night to Shine Worldwide Highlight Video
- Contact: Tim Tebow Foundation
Equipping and mobilizing local Wesleyan churches to transform the lives of vulnerable children