Monday, April 14, 2014

Breaking Barriers

There are invisible barriers in place; I started to use the word segregation but decided it was too ugly of a word to use for this situation. However, there is a type of wall surrounding this group in society.

Special needs society is easily misunderstood…easily dismissed, and ignored. I’m not sure if it’s by choice or just the way our society sets up the system, but they get placed behind invisible barriers.

There’s this woman. This woman is part of the congregation who I worship with. She’s not a Sunday school teacher, not part of the praise team, leadership team, welcome wagon, prayer group, drama team, funeral feeders, or anything else. Just a faithful member of the congregation. I say that not to diminish any part of who she is, but to show how this very quiet woman‘s work was so big. Everyone plays a part in the body of Christ. And she took a thought and turned it into something that has done more than made memories…it broke barriers.
When God gives you an idea, act upon it. Prayerfully, move forward. Had my friend, Donna, not acted upon her thought we would not have watched so many wonderful things take place last night.

Donna coordinated an “Evening Under the Stars,” aka “Jesus Prom,” at our church. This prom was for special needs high school students and older. The turnout was phenomenal. Approximately 45 special needs citizens got the chance to wear formal attire, take a limo ride, have dinner and dance the night away.

Donna has a nephew who lives his life from a wheelchair and had recently attended a “Jesus Prom.” Donna immediately began her work.

See this group of teenagers?

I am also thankful that this group of teens are working to make a difference in their community. A difference for good - we seem to only hear about the youth who have found themselves in a puddle of trouble. But my focus on this group of kids goes deeper in this story.

Our high school aged youth group and their friends were asked to be escorts. These girls and guys showed up thinking they were going to be of assistance to their “dates” and ensure they had everything they needed for the evening. What they found were people their age with the same love of music, desire to have fun, and feelings that mimicked their own. It’s easy for us to misdiagnose something we don’t understand. What started off as awkward between the couples at first changed throughout the night and real conversations were taking place, phones numbers were exchanged.

What I watched was character building, life-changing, and ultimately bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. I saw students, who attend the same school but are segregated from each other due to differences, come together as a community, but leave as friends.

I saw a church grow in ministry as we all looked at each other like, “This is what it’s all about! Bringing people together to help each other, encourage each other, and love each other.”

I saw a community who jumped onboard to donate their talents and services to ensure this special group of citizens enjoyed their night.

I watched as we made the effort to bring our lives together, that understanding abounded…barriers were broken…

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to understand another person, and be open to their needs, we may just find a friend.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” - The Beatles