COLLEYVILLE, Texas (BP)--"When I go home, I can't imagine what these people do on a daily basis. They have amazing strength! We're just such a small part of ministering to them," said Lisa Wertz, referring to her church's monthly ministry to special needs families.
Walking with a star
Dan Roberts, a volunteer at Evening Stars, helps Hunter down a hallway at First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas, where the monthly outreach focuses on families with special needs children. Photo by Richard D. McCormack
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 53 million Americans have disabilities, 33 million of which are severe. Therefore, 33 million American families deal daily with extra doctor visits, special care and overcoming obstacles to fit in with society. One obstacle these families often face is a lack of acceptance in churches. Werst, as children's ministry director at First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas, is concerned that about 90 percent of special needs families are unchurched.
In September 2002, First Baptist Colleyville began its Evening Stars Respite Care ministry, which provides temporary relief to the caregivers of special needs children in the community. About 38 families from the mid-cities area of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex bring their special needs children and siblings to a once-per-month free childcare event. Some parents drive up to 40 miles to get this much-needed break from caregiving, to enjoy about four precious hours of free time.