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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

The first magazine article I wrote that was accepted by a national magazine was entitled, “David Wilkerson and Me.”  

In the piece, I chronicled how much his book, The Cross and The Switchblade had been used by God to change my life.  My husband and I had just moved to Central Florida.  I was a brand new mother when a new friend came to the hospital.  She gave me Wilkerson’s book.  Because I respected her, I read it with fascination.

To read related story of Wilkerson’s death on Wednesday, CLICK HERE

This, Wilkerson person, was a young man–only 10 year older than I–but he had something in his Christian life that I didn’t have.  Yet, I desperately wanted whatever it was that he had.  He was able to share Jesus with people on the streets or in a small crowd.  New York City gang leaders became Christians.  Drug addicts were set free by God’s power.

During my  stay in the hospital, nursing aids and orderlies came to my room to “hang out.”  This was a new experience for me.  I’m not a magnetic personality but they came and they wanted to talk.  Several of them burst into tears and asked my help.  I was dumbfounded, scared and speechless.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not tell them about my wonderful Savior.  There was no power in my life, even when people were asking legitimate and heart wrenching questions.

At night, when the TV was off and only one light was shining, I would pull out my book.  I read and I cried. Why couldn’t I tell these hurting, hungry women about the wonderful Lord who gave me peace.  When a woman twice my age poured out her heart because her son was fighting an unpopular war, I sat numb and speechless.  When perky Maria talked about her boyfriend who was sick and could be dying, I could only smile and hold her hand.

I began a search through the Scriptures for what made Wilkerson different.  I wanted what he had.  I needed the power of the Holy Spirit to reach out and touch me because I’d seen a small glimpse of a hurting world who desperately needed the Lord.  In God’s time, I discovered what Wilkerson had found and so did millions of other people.

From the Jesus Movement of the 1960’s, the Church in the US was radically changed.  All of us still feel the affects of the outpouring of God’s Spirit on our nation.  Things changed from the music we sing to the length of our sermons to the way the Bible is taught.  Sure, not everything that happened was good but much of it was holy and powerful.

I don’t live in the past.  I don’t even miss the past.  There are many wonderful days ahead.  However, with the death of David Wilkerson, it seems good to stop hoeing God’s fields for a moment.  It’s a time to lean against my hoe and catch a vision of the past fears and God’s glorious release.  It’s time to reflect and rejoice in a young man who dared to follow God’s calling, risking all to “go into the highways and hedges and compel” us to come in.  His godly influence reached more than the gangs in New York City.  God’s spirit touched a young mama sitting in a hospital bed, crying out for more of the Lord.

Who is someone who has influenced your life for good?  What books have helped you to know God better?

Photos: Rev. David Wilkerson by John Baw and New Mother by Leannrlee

Wild hog and wolf wars are raging across the US.  In Central Florida, we understand the wild hog problem that is plaguing the South.  A good friend bought what seemed like an idyllic, secluded piece of acreage about five years ago.  They built a wonderful group home with an equestrian bend.  However, they didn’t understand that their land–like much of the Southern woodland–is overly populated with wild hogs.  Because of the vigilance of the owners of the home, the hogs have not terrorized the family of mentally challenged individuals living in the house.  Yet, the potential exists.

In the western part of our country, the US Fish and Wildlife Service repopulated the northwestern states in the late 1990’s with gray wolves hoping to improve the eco-system.  As a result the wolf population has thrived and there are currently approximately 1,645 gray wolves and 217 packs roaming the region.  They, too, have become a problem to the ecology. In the article published in the March 2010, entitled, “Wolf Wars,” National Geographic reported that the return of the wolves has changed everything in the northwestern states, including the microbiology of the soil.  Killing coyotes, the wolves are altering the existing eco-system in ways that may not be beneficial.  Wolves are again a threat to humans; they have killed several hikers in the past years.

At times, people don’t understand what harm we are doing by our actions.  Humans killed off all the wolves, which was a bad thing.  However, their protection has caused perhaps even greater damage.

Using abortion, many people assumed that we would soon eliminate the birth of people who are mentally challenged.  This appeared to be a good thing to many medical professionals and others who had fought for the right to have an abortion.  Twenty years ago, when Cheryl’s baby was found to have a clef lip, she was severely pressured by her doctors to have an abortion because developmental disabilities often accompany a clef lip.  The family resisted and even had to change doctors three times before finding an MD who would deliver their child.  As it happened, the young man is brilliant and the lip was surgically repaired at a young age.

Because of fetal alcohol syndrome, AID’s-related disabilities, and disabilities within the autism spectrum (ASD), developmental disabilities have not disappeared.  In fact, it is estimated and reported by National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke a part of  National Institute of Health ”three to six children out of every 1,000 will have ASD.  Males are four times more likely to have ASD than females.”  This is a much larger portion of the population that those children carrying the Down’s syndrome gene.

Parents and those who work within the mentally challenged community understand the amazing blessings our population brings to the world.  Whether you are a Christian or not, the blessings of our population have been chronicled again and again.  Of course, there are adjustments and great grief when a child is born with disabilities.  At times, life is harder than parents could ever imagine.  However, the blessings overwhelm the obvious harm.

As a minister within the mentally challenged community, I repeatedly emphasize to our members how much they can be used by the Lord.  The important fact that God can use all of us gives each of us permanent value in who we are.  Christianity is unique in our approach to the Lord.  Jesus taught us that all people have great value to God and He loves us unconditionally.  This Holy Week teaches us God great sacrifice for us.

Photos:  Wild Boar by Sivio DSouza and Wolf by Arrr!

With the world watching London for information regarding the royal wedding, trivia about the Royal Family from the United Kingdom seems to pour forth hourly.  One piece of information that you may have missed is that when Queen Elizabeth is NOT residing in Buckingham Palace, the Union Jack flag  flies over her London home.

However, if the Queen is in residence, her own flag flies over the palace.

In trying to help others understand ministry within the mentally challenged community, we explain that the social aptitude of our members is sort of stuck in junior high/middle school.  They enjoy all the things that would entertain anyone who is between the ages of 12 and 14.  Additionally, one minute they are making mature, rational decisions.  The next minute, they have reverted back to childish behavior.

In their walk with Christ, it isn’t unusual to hear deeply profound statements coming from two members as they discuss the Lord.  Yet, within a few moments, we may see the same two people fighting over a double-stuff Oreo cookie.

As I learned this interesting fact about the flags flying over Buckingham Palace, I thought of Special Gathering members. Their social penchant for flip/flopping makes them an easy target to illustrate an important Christian principle.  However, the problem isn’t isolated within the intellectually disabled population.  Too often, there are two alternating flags which fly over my life–over all of our lives.   One represents a holy life in Christ; the other shows that we’ve stepped away and we are somewhere else, fighting over an Oreo.

When we are in the middle of our friends who are Christian, it is easy to stand for what is right and good and just.  We fly the flag that says we are comfortable living within the kingdom of God.  When we are at work or among friends who aren’t aligned with Christ, we may nonchalantly slip to the flag pole to haust our worldly flag.

Compromise comes easily and quickly.  Yet, it means that for a time, I am turning my back on the life-giving Holy Spirit for a vacant life of recrimination and regrets.  I pray that the flag of my life will continue to fly high proudly telling the world the Christ is living in my heart.

When are the times that you are tempted to back away from the Savior?  Are we fighting over an Oreo, when we should be proclaiming Christ’s love to the world?

Photo by torturnedmommy

From Linda G. Howard of The Special Gathering of Indian River

At Easter, how can you tell the difference between a male chocolate bunny and a female chocolate bunny?

The male bunnies have hollow heads.

Tony Piantine from Camp Daniel says:

I had heard a follow up joke to that one…


If the head has already been bitten off a chocolate easter bunny, how can you tell if its male or female?

If it’s female, it is still talking!

 

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