A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

The World’s Weighty Problems

posted by Linda G. Howard

For Sam, Cara and George, the large problem looming in their lives on Sunday was if I received their camp forms for the Memorial Day Weekend retreat that The Special Gathering holds each year.  

Special Gathering is a  ministry within the mentally challenged (intellectually disabled) community.  

For our members, this is an important four-day spiritual getaway and a vacation.  They save their money all year to be able to attend the camp.

I stood in front of our members making announcements and their minds were pulled toward camp, not the weightier issues that had monopolized the conversations of most of my friends during the week:  persecution of Christians in China, Israel’s 50th anniversary and the invasion of Palastians across their boards.  

They weren’t concerned with Republican and Democatic party disputes, mounting federal debt, continuing budget short-falls in every state, 0r the implications of wars in the Middle Eastern countries. 

Honestly, it was a jarring and refreshing change.

My small world had been occupied with the declining health of my late husband and the increased financial outflow I was facing.  I smiled at the honest and forthright concerns that dominated their thoughts.  

“Are you ready for camp?” they asked. ” Will we be able to have camp this year?”  

I remembered a story that an evangelist from Nicaragua had told me about an event that happened one night when the Communists were taking over the government in the capitol city, Managua.

He was visiting his mother-in-law; and he asked her about the stereo set that she had borrowed from him a few months before. 

Trouble on the streets of Managua

“It was surreal,” he reported.  “About the time I asked her about the stereo, a gun battle broke out in the streets of the city.  Gun shots from the insurgents began to fill her house. 

“We dived under the table for safety.  As we lay there with our lives hanging in the balance, my mother-in-law started arguing with me about who owned the stereo. 

“She insisted that I had given the equipment to her.  I was in such shock. 

“Bullets were flying around the house.  We were hovering under the furniture. 

“All she could think about was disputing the ownership of a stereo.”

It is obvious that the mentally challenged community are not the only people who campartmentalize their lives.  I’ve not done any research on this subject but I wonder if our minds choose to process those things which affect our personal well-being before other issues are allowed to crowd our psyche. 

Perhaps that is why we are constantly told from Genesis to Revelation to seek God and His will for our lives.

The hardest disciplines in Christendom seem to be prayer and meditation. 

Without a set time and ordered regimen in my life, I will never do the hard work of prayer.  Even though I cannot imagine that God Almighty wants to have a relationship with me and engage me in conversation, without a disciplined resolve, I will waltz through my day without giving prayer a second thought.

The world’s weighty problems do demand our time and energy in prayer.  Additionally, we need to train our members to look beyond their daily needs, hurts and issues, seeking God for his perfect will to come into our world.

Hope

posted by Linda G. Howard

A gifted member writes poetry for Connecting Point, The Special Gathering monthly newsletter.  Here is one of her poems.  Miss Demeree was born with Down’s Syndrome.   

Hope

by Michelle Demeree 

What does hope mean to me?

I believe that in life,

                                                                          we need to have

                                                                                                                                                                   faith and hope.

                                           A sick family member,

                                                                         like my parent, brings new feeling to the

                                                                                                                           meaning of hope.

                           So hard.

                                                                  Hard to deal with.

                                                                                                                           We must pray for hope.

                                                                                   We must pray for God to give us hope.

Big plans or new toys

posted by Linda G. Howard

By the time I was born, my father had started several successful businesses.  As a teenager, he was an ice man, selling ice to many people in his small town.  After he married my mother, he started a grocery store with a brother.  When misunderstanding threatened to ruin the relationship, he moved away from the store and established a restaurant.

As the population of the area around the restaurant deteriorated and the market changed, he moved closer to our home and began an ice cream parlor.  He and Mother worked long, hard hours in each business.

When Dad left the business world, he took a civil service job.  Through every venture, my parents kept their hearts focused on a bigger picture than the hardships of the day.  They did without many of the toys that people think are essential to their lives.  When our parents died, they left an inheritance for their children.  They had no debts, only assets and savings.  Yet, what they left for us was more than money in a bank account and a paid-off home mortgage.

Perhaps their greatest heritage for us was their ability to see beyond today and into the future, trusting God to orchestra our lives.  They taught us a myriad of lessons in delayed gratification, even though they never used those two words.  Often, when someone has left Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community for one reason or another, we don’t grieve because we know that they will be back and when they come back.  Our mission is discipleship and evangelizing.  We will be here waiting and welcoming them.  We will be here for years in the future.  We plan to continue ministry now and from now on.

Discouragement is part of life; but it isn’t the most important part.  Patience is a hallmark virtue of life in Christ.  Waiting for God to move means rewards from our Sovereign Lord.  My parents’ life wasn’t exciting or thrilling.  However, their legacy is.

Waiting and other distractions

posted by Linda G. Howard

I admit that there are some things that I do pretty well.  These are things at which I work hard to do as well as I can.  They are also things I enjoy.  My list seems to grow as I get older.  I enjoy writing, gardening, children, playing, teaching and administration.

There are several things that I don’t enjoy, however.  One is waiting.  As much waiting as I’ve done in my life, you would think that I would have acquired a likin’ for the process but I still rebel like a 13-year-old when I have to wait for longer than one minute.

There are some things that I’ve found that are worse than waiting, however.  Several of them are

  1. Having other people have to wait on me.
  2. Having the people who are waiting for me blow the horn of their car.
  3. Having my husband have to wait on me.
  4. Having my husband who is waiting for me blow the horn of the car.

Recently I watched The Special Gathering of South Carolina program director.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship for people who are developmentally disabled.  The SC director was working to get three of her members who are visiting our home in Florida ready for a day at Magic Kingdom in Disney.  She was reduced to waiting.  ”You would think that I’d be used to it by now,” she commented in passing.

Our conversation quickly deteriorated to the other times we have waited for our members.  It takes half a day to load a 12 passenger van with people.  Add luggage and you better plan to spend the day waiting.  A buffet line can take up to four hours, depending on whether the person in front of you wants everything, wants nothing or changes her mind 37 times before putting the first thing on her plate.   In essence, we decided that waiting is one outgrowth of special needs ministry that will either make us stronger or break our strength.  While this list may not be spiritual, it is benefitial.

There are some things that you can do while waiting:

  1. Clean your fingernails.  Cleaning toenails is not recommended.
  2. Pick your teeth.  Picking someone else’s teeth is not recommended.
  3. Prayer at the beginning of the process is recommended.
  4. Praying by the end of the process is not recommended because the prayers you will find yourself praying will not promote spiritual growth.
  5. Playing mind games is recommended.
  6. Playing video or on-line games is not recommended.  The length of time you will spend playing the game while waiting will put you on such a high level that you will want to cancel the activity and spend the rest of your day playing games.
  7. People observing is recommended as long as you are not looking at your members trying to get ready.

If you are not in special needs ministry, these rules are easily adapted to almost any waiting process.  Therefore, it is recommended that you  make a copy of this list and tuck it into a shirt pocket for easy reference to read the next time you are waiting.  Additonally, it will give you an eighth thing to do while you are waiting.

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