A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith


posted by Linda G. Howard

Because many of our Special Gathering members were not able to attend the memorial service for one of their Bible teachers, we had a short memorial time at our Melbourne Special Gathering on Sunday morning.  Special Gathering members are mentally challenged adults.  The mission of our ministry is evangelism and discipleship.  We don’t do group homes but we have chapel services and Bible classes.  This teacher, Frank, had taught a Bible class for about ten years.  His students loved him.  Therefore, as part of the memorial, our Melbourne members were asked to comment about Frank, sharing a favorite memory.


Our members spoke about the times they remembered the most.  I was a bit surprised.  Several of the members talked about the class he taught.  However, almost all of our members said, “I went to his house to eat.”  His last meal, in fact, was shared with five of our Special Gathering members.  Their van driver lives in Vero but she needed to do some catch-up paper work in Melbourne; and his wife invited the members to come and eat at their home.

After that meal, Frank took a large downturn; and he was no longer able to eat.

Over the years, I’ve studied the importance in the Scriptures regarding the meal.  The Bible indicates that there is a bonding that happens at meal time and with the breaking of bread.  This unique time does not seem to happen during any other activity.


The meal plays a significant part in each milestone of developing our Christian faith.  Only mentioning a few, Abraham shared a meal with the Angel of the Lord before receiving God’s promise to become a great nation.  The Passover was a Seder meal.  Moving to the New Testament, the last supper was an important time of communion for Jesus and his disciples.  Even after his resurrection, we know of two meals that Jesus shared with his followers.  The last meal was breakfast on the beach and Jesus prepared the food himself.


I am more and more convinced that to develop a working and compatible relationship with people or family members that we desire to influence for Christ, the meal will help.  Several years ago, our executive director at Special Gathering, Richard Stimson, decided that we should invite our members to come to our homes and have a meal with them and their families.  We invited each family whose child participated to our home.  We spent time with them.  Though it has been years, our parents still bring up how much they appreciated coming to our home.

Of course, inviting people to our homes is not the only way we can create that bond.  Sharing meals at restaurants, church fellowships and picnics will accomplish the same goal.  Weekend spiritual retreats are often life changing experiences and I’m convinced that a big part of that transformation is because of eating with other Christians.

God in his infinite wisdom has made the meal a time of pleasure and bonding that melts heart together in a unique way.  Connections are made that last a lifetime.


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.



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.   


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.

Previous Posts

Willing to Change
Last May I was working when I made a mistake.  While I understood that I was to blame, my first reaction was to fix blame in other places.  As I look back on my reaction, I realize it was unrealistic for me to revert into defensive mode, ...

posted 9:26:41am Oct. 07, 2015 | read full post »

Justice and Mercy
As we know, it was God's undeniable sense of justice that demanded that He allow Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross.  However, it was God's mercy that allowed this perfect human to be killed for the sin of all mankind.  While we can do ...

posted 11:43:14am Jun. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Explaining Grace
In the past weeks, I’ve been going over some of the key words in our covenant relationship with God with the members of my community who are intellectually disabled.  Perhaps one of the most important words we use is grace. Most of us have ...

posted 5:55:58am Jan. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Holidays and grief
Today, I heard again the Christmas song about the little boy whose mother is dying on Christmas eve and he wants to buy her shoes to wear as she goes into heaven. He doesn’t have enough money to buy the shoes and a person in line gives him the ...

posted 8:29:32am Jan. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Can You Come?
Maddie is one of those people within the mentally challenged community whom everyone loves.  She is friendly and happy.  Maddie makes everyone feel as though they are her "extra-special friend."  Several years ago Mattie and her husband ...

posted 12:20:34am Dec. 29, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.