Interpreting services make teachings more accessible
For the past four years members in my home group have made continuous efforts to make it possible for me to receive the messages at the meetings. We all laugh whenever I misunderstand a sentence; people have grown in patience when they have to repeat missed sentences for me; and I have developed respect for everyone in my home group. Individuals teaching the Bible study have provided transcripts for me to read during the teaching to help me better understand the content being taught. How I have been able to hear the teaching on Monday evenings has truly been a whole group effort: volunteers from other home Bible studies in our church have interpreted; a member in my home group has interpreting skills; and members of my home group have lip synced when sign language interpreting is not available. I feel served by each and every member to reach my maximum potential of understanding and hearing God’s word. They have eagerly and willingly done whatever it takes to best communicate with me or assist me.
Friendship thrives with friend on the autism spectrum
One of my first hangouts with a friend of mine on the autism spectrum involved the two of us at a coffee shop, staring at each other for about an hour while I asked a few awkward questions here and there. Some time later he told me he wanted more interaction with me and with the people in our home Bible study. I realized that I had really dropped the ball here, leaving him on his own to build friendships without any help. I asked a buddy of mine to help me coordinate the three of us spending time together regularly outside of home church. Currently, my friend and I continue to spend regular time together: we study the Bible, we pray together, and as I learn about what interests him, we connect with few barriers. This guy truly loves the Lord, and he has moments in our studies where he raises deep points that really stop me dead in my tracks and make me think. He teaches me things about God and the Bible. The personal growth I have experienced here has opened the doors for other opportunities to serve creatively.
Wheelchair user participates in service trip to Mexico
A friend of mine kept hearing stories about short missions trips I was leading each summer to a canyon community in Mexico. He asked me if he could go the next year. This friend uses a wheelchair, and he has cerebral palsy and a permanently dislocated hip. Without even considering it, I told him that the terrain was too rough for a wheelchair. When he asked me again the next year, I called the pastor of the church we serve in Mexico, who emphatically said, “Sure!” To prepare for the trip, another guy on our team created a hammock from sturdy material and put four handles on it, one in each corner. Everybody pitched in, and we carried our friend everywhere. It created some serious unity on our team, and my friend had the time of his life. He couldn’t help us build houses, but he pitched in what he could: he scraped, painted, and gave his testimony at Vacation Bible School in front of fifty kids!
Every-member ministry thriving in a college home group
About a year and a half ago (in August 2010), I realized that my brother Micah (who has Down syndrome) didn't have fellowship with his peers as he attended CT and got occasional time with friends from my college home church. Micah had expressed a desire for this kind of fellowship, so I started kicking around the idea of inviting him to join our college home church. I knew we would need to have the whole group on board to make sure Micah was a participating member of the group who played a real role in the life of the group. I contacted some of the committed people in the group, and we developed a plan for having one person make sure Micah was engaged in conversation and receiving coaching on mature relating each week at the meeting. Fortuitously, one of our members also worked as a care provider for Micah. We asked our home church teachers to send out discussion questions ahead of time, and Micah and his provider (who was also a peer and friend) started studying and discussing the questions before home church every week. This has allowed Micah to participate during teachings by giving him a chance to prepare on-topic answers to the questions. Over time, Micah has become a solid member of our group, able to connect with people, contribute to the quality of our meetings, and benefit from our teachings. It's awesome to enjoy fellowship and shared ministry with my brother, and it's been good for everyone in our group to minister to and with Micah.