Monday, July 4, 2011

Special Needs

     When we hear the term "Special Needs", what do we think of?  Most of us would say that the term refers to children/adults who are born with neurological disabilities or other challenges such as our little grandson Branson.  However, the term could be broadened to include many others such as the terminally ill, invalids, the mentally ill, the disabled, those with serious chronic illness and no health insurance and the elderly who need assistance with daily living.  All of these people have requirements that take time, energy, prayer, effort and money.  Unfortunately, the attitude of some within our society is not unlike that expressed by Adolf Hitler in the 1939 when he called for the extermination of those "unworthy of life".  His order was entitled "The Destruction of Those Unworthy of Life" in which he stated those patients "considered incurable according to the best human judgment of their state of health, be accorded a mercy death."  This was considered an economic move to lessen the burden of society at the time.  From history, we know that he started with the mentally ill and moved on to invalids and the disabled.  Eventually, his extermination plans took the lives of over 6 million Jews, Gypsies and Christians before he was stopped.
     While some of you may be thinking this is a stretch to compare our society with the dictates of a mad man, let me remind you that every year 1.7 million babies are legally aborted.  What ever happened to the sanctity of human life?  In addition, two states have approved Physician assisted suicide.  So the question arises, will this downward spiral begin to creep into eliminating those with "special needs" as it did in Nazi society?  After all, we are in a severe economic time in our nation.  As believers, what should and can we do?
     Jesus made clear how we are to treat others who have special needs when he addressed His disciples about the final judgement.  In describing the separation of those who believe and those who do not believe, Jesus addressed the righteous in this manner:  "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'  And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:34-40).  What an outstanding explanation of how God views the value of life.  The actions we take to assist the "least of these" is directly related to our love of Christ.
     In practical terms, Christians have the greatest opportunity to make an impact right now on our society.  With economic problems and joblessness growing, we can participate in a variety of ministries that help those with special needs.  Our small community has a Christian food pantry and clothing center to help people in need. In addition, a new ministry has just come into being in our town called Samaritan's Touch which will provide free medical care to those unable to get health insurance or qualify for state run programs but whose income does not allow them to seek care.  This is also a Christian ministry outreach to our community.  Various churches have prison ministries that take the "Good News" to those incarcerated as well as nursing home outreaches which provide visitation to those in nursing homes.  The possibilities for involvement are endless.
     Personally, our family was greatly blessed when a church sponsored a special dinner to raise funds to assist with the medical expenses of our grandson.  No one will ever know how much it means to have fellow believers reach out and touch a family.  Hosting dinners to raise funds to assist people in need, working in a soup kitchen, volunteering to give a ride to a person who needs to go to the doctor, volunteering to work at a pregnancy crisis center, or preparing meals for those who have had surgery are just some of the ways we can extend the love of Christ to those with special needs.  By doing this, we are a witness to our community, our county, our state and our nation.  We are also fulfilling the call of our Lord to cherish life at all stages and in every situation.  Who better than the church to go out and touch the lives of others with the love of Christ?
     All around us there are people with "special needs".  These may be physical, spiritual, or mental.  Now is the time to take action as believers and demonstrate as well as tell others about the Lord we serve.  Government cannot provide or fulfill the needs of the human heart, but Jesus Christ can through the hands and feet of His disciples.  Let us accept this call to action with humility and grace.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and comments.  Please feel free to leave them here as encouragement.


Patricia said...

Excellent points, Barbara. The church has been just as guilty of ignoring those with special needs. Many Chistians who are homebound are completely forgotten about. The church needs to see where we have failed to live out the sanctity of all human life - from birth to death - in the way we have ignored those with special needs. Thank you for writing this.

Craig said...

Amen Barbara – we are HIS hands and feet. Government cannot do what we can. And we all have "special needs".

A society can be judged on how it handles the weakest.

This was a bold piece, And one that needed to be written, and I'm glad that you did.

God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours Barbara.

Barbara Thayer said... are so right. There are so many shut-ins who cannot attend church any longer but would love a visit with a Christian brother or sister. We must be about the Father's business by reaching out in love to meet the needs of those around us. If we do not do it, who will? The church, does indeed, need to take a firm stand and get involved in helping all who have special needs!!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you for your comments Craig. So glad you stopped by. Yes, this message has been burning in my heart for some time. Having a grandchild with special needs...makes me more aware of those around me who also are hurting and need care. We are His hands and feet as well as His ambassadors. Right now, we can make an even bigger difference in our nation as we help meet the many needs around us with this difficult economic situaiton. Again...thank you for your comments and stopping by my friend! Blessings to you!

Penned Pebbles said...

Needed and courageous post! Good point about the shut-ins as well. There are many special needs that we tend to overlook. May God grant us more compassion and grace!

Barbara Thayer said...

Amen Petra. There is so much we can do to help others with the love of Christ. What an impact we can all make when we help the "least" of these. Always glad to have you stop by.