Are you involved in ministry? From cleaning the church toilets to preaching every Sunday, many Christians are.
I’ve been involved in a ministry with people with learning disabilities for about 10 years, and this autumn I took a few months’ sabbatical. I would recommend everyone to take a break, especially after 10 years! My time away from the ministry has been fruitful. Being able to reflect and learn, spending time with God and not having to ‘do’ has been very valuable.
The task to reach these people, even in my own town, seems huge
The trouble I’m now facing is going back. You see, whilst I was away God opened my eyes to the enormity of the task. I learned how many people in this country alone have a learning disability. I learned about how many people with learning disabilities are living in poverty, are abused, forgotten and exploited. I learned how many families are struggling to support a child with learning disabilities and will have to into adulthood. I’ve learned that to get any support they have to constantly fight against a behemoth of an education and welfare system that treats them like scroungers. I learned about places where churches don’t seem to go and that’s where people with learning disabilities can be found. Then there was the way people with learning disabilities are treated in other countries. Going back to our nice, comfortable church group for people with learning disabilities feels too easy. I’ve a restlessness in my Spirit and half wish God hadn’t shown me these things. As Christians, we might find it easier not to know, because when our eyes are opened, we can feel so helpless. The task to reach these people, even in my own town, seems huge.
Matthew 9:36-38 says, "When he saw the crowds, he felt deep concern for them. They were treated badly and were helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is huge. But there are only a few workers.”
It is easy to be overwhelmed and feel helpless. We don’t know where to begin, we don’t have the time; we have to work and look after our families; we have bills to pay; we are exhausted. Or is that just me? But Jesus goes on to tell us…
“So ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers out into his harvest field.”
One thing I have learned is that we need to do the small things Jesus has asked us to and be brave to step out of our comfort zone. What He has put in our hearts is only part of the big concerns that are in His heart. I have been blogging for three years about the inclusion of people with learning disabilities, trying to give advice and support to churches and it’s a very small voice in a big busy world.
But what I have also learned during my sabbatical is that I’m not just one voice. I’ve learned that there are others, all over the country with the same ministry. Their voices are speaking up too and all those small voices are starting to be joined together by the Lord. Some of them are in established charities, many more of them are like me, doing small ministries in individual churches. What joins us is the heart of God. We have been given Jesus’s love for people who are treated badly and who are helpless; people who are included in His Kingdom.
I am feeling smaller than ever. I’m wondering if my small voice that keeps going on and on about including and reaching out to people with learning disabilities will ever be heard. But I am part of a team…now I understand.
We have a Great Big God.