FIRST-PERSON: My church, my family & autism
EDITOR'S NOTE: Today (April 2) is World Autism Awareness Day
CHURCH HILL, Tenn. (BP) -- Every time I refer to our church family in a conversation, my heart swells with appreciation as I get to share about a group of people who have embraced our autism journey.
Even though our home church is a great illustration of the love that can be found inside the walls of the local church, Jesus was the greatest example of all.
In Matthew, chapter 8, we read about Jesus healing the sick and the lame. We see the perfect example of love without boundaries or suspicion. Jesus came into the midst of their struggle and lifted their burdens.
So many autism families find themselves alone and without hope. In recent years there has been a push for more awareness and acceptance of the challenges of autism. The local church has a grand opportunity to serve this unique people group. However, because of their very special needs, the reality of serving them can seem like a daunting task.
Because our family has experienced firsthand living life in the margins with autism, we know what a blessing the local church can be.
Here are some ways that Ridgeview Baptist Church in Church Hill, Tenn., has opened their doors and their hearts to our special needs family:
They were willing.
Our pastor leads the way when it comes to being open to thinking outside of tradition. Jon Rogers sees those who are hurting and encourages others to step up, step beyond their comfort zones, and help.
They were equipped.
Our church ensures that we equip the saints to serve the Lord. Because the truth of God's Word has been preached and put into place, God's people were prepared to take on the special task of serving in a different way -- a special way.
They didn't assume.
Instead of assuming that we could handle things on our own, our church went out of their way to ask how they can help better accommodate our child with autism.
They put words into action.
Not only did they talk about how they were going to adjust the way certain things are done, we started seeing these changes soon after our son received his diagnosis.
They trusted and obeyed God.
In the beginning there were more questions than answers, but they knew that God would provide.
Now, I get to share our experience with other autism families and am confident when inviting them for Sunday School or worship.
Since the beginning of our journey, we have had complete support and understanding from our church and it has made all the difference in our lives.