On Saturday, several people who have not attended Special Gathering for almost a year came back. I could tell from the expressions on their faces and from the look in their eyes that they completely enjoyed their time with us. My questions when they left was “Will they come back?”
Scout is a man with a brain injury and severe short-term memory. He is enthused about the way we allow him to take a leadership position. Recently, he was moved from his group home to an independent apartment. However, he can only come when a staff person from his former group home decides to pick him up from his apartment. Because of his short-term-memory disability, he cannot keep track of the day of the week. Even though he loves the worship experience and his time at Special Gathering, each week is a new experience for him. Therefore, he doesn’t remember from one Saturday to the next what has happened.
There is no doubt that Scout is growing in the Lord. Yet, keeping him focused is a concern for him and for Special Gathering staff.
Babs is a high functioning, middle-aged woman who also lives in her own apartment. She lives with a young woman who feels that Special Gathering is too structured and “religious” for her. Her housemate influences her. Babs is normally a sad person. I haven’t seen her smile in almost a year. On Saturday , she was smiling the entire time she was at the chapel program. While she didn’t want to enjoy her time with us, it was as though she had come home and her face showed it.
At times, people within the mentally challenged community struggle with the same issues that folks without a disability struggle. For Scott, it is remembering and trying to fit Special Gathering into his schedule. Babs struggles to sort through her emotions regarding her relationship with the Lord.
Our struggle is helping the men and women who are face these issue to remember that their peace and joy comes from worshiping and loving the Lord. The longer I minister to folks with intellectual disabilities, the more I realize how close their needs and desires are to each of us. What are some of the things that you stuggle to overcome in your relationship with the Lord? What have you found that works to keep your relationship vibrant?