Tuesday, December 31, 2013

God Has Autism Too or Why Churches Need to Minister to and With Special Needs Adults

God has autism. 

Why?

God is perfectionistic. He created a perfect world. His work was perfect. Then He created these people. Who flubbed up the perfection. 

So God had a meltdown. He punished the people who messed up the perfection. 

People kept screwing up and things got more flubbed up. So God had another meltdown. This time He flooded the whole earth and started over again after He calmed down enough to be more reasonable. 

But God still was not happy. It just was not the same ever again.

So God sent Jesus. 

Now here's the clencher: Jesus was no ordinary baby. Nor was He any ordinary man.

And churches who mess up in this might want to repent sooner than later because the end result will not be good for them.

Many churches do not minister to or with special needs individuals or their families. Particularly adults with special needs. 

This is a very sad reality. 

Anyone who has read earlier posts on here know what I just dealt with with one such church. 

I have been praying that they will see their mistakes before they hurt more people like me. 

If ever there was a more compelling reason for them to repent and try to repair the damage they caused me, and for that matter, a more compelling reason for them and really for EVERY church to minister to and with special needs children AND adults, here it is:

Most of Jesus' life ministry was spent healing the deaf, healing the blind, healing the leper, healing the woman with a bleeding issue. Jesus even said how you treat the least of these is how you treat Him (Matthew 25). And He basically said if you treat them fair and treat them well, then you treat Him fair and well and you will be a sheep. BUT, conversely, if you hurt them, you hurt Him and you will be a goat sent to the fire. He is talking about churches too as the churches are simply comprised of people. So, if your church doesn't minister to and with children AND adults with special needs and instead does what that church did to me, you might need to do one of two things:

1. Go to your leadership and talk to them and even complain and protest. 
2. Run far away from that church for failing to actually do the work of Jesus.

Because here's the thing: Jesus not only did or encouraged foreign missions, but He also did and encouraged special needs ministry. And if a church is lacking either of these things, then it is not really following Jesus at all, now is it? 

Don't get me wrong. I know some churches will claim that they just don't have the resources or the people to volunteer or the people who need it. WRONG WRONG WRONG. 

Let me take, no offense, but just because I am more familiar with them, so let me take Oak Mountain for example.

Excuse 1: Don't have the resources.

Wrong. 

Oak Mountain has over 2500 people by now. It is also in a predominantly affluent area. With the new campaign it is launching, some of the allocation or reallocation of funds can include special needs ministry to both children and adults? The focus is too much on the children. This fails to remember that children with special needs grow up to be adults who still have special needs. But in a church that size or larger, if the excuse is not having the resources, I would be more concerned that they are misappropriating some of the resources rather than that they truly don't have the resources.

Excuse 2: Don't have the people to volunteer.

Wrong.

Oak Mountain never asked. They never expressed the need. Therefore they do not have because they did not ask. If they would announce the need, they would have people who would step up. I know. Because I met several who are interested. But they have not been asked nor have they been made aware of the need. Why? Because as I have experienced, their leaders treat autism as though it is a sin which also means they treat God as though God is a sinner. Read some of my previous posts for clarity on that comment. 

Excuse 3: Don't have the people who need it.

Wrong.

I needed it and still need it. With autism diagnosis rates in children being 1 in 88 and 1 in 50 between ages 6 and 17, and adults being unaccounted for, a church the size of Oak Mountain definitely has the people who need it. And that's just autism! ADHD, ODD, OCD, dyslexia, Down Syndrome, Tourette's, SPD, MR, LD are others that can benefit. I read a statistic last night that bothered me as I have been made a statistic as a result of what they did to me: 95% of families with special needs are unchurched. A smaller percent (55%) was also given. If this excuse is used, I would be more concerned about why this is the case than about this being the case. Why? In my case, I was bullied and abused, more so after the diagnosis of autism came to their attention. And even the offending party (Tom) admitted that to my mom (the only truth he told her). We met others with similar stories with regard to the exact same church. Which means that they are literally doing something wrong. RUN people. Because that is NOT what Jesus would want. 

Why do I write this though? Because right now, believe it or not, bringing it to public light is the most gracious thing I can do under the circumstances. Because someone out there might read this and finally say aha! and might be able to call foul and help correct the wrong. Because no church deserves to be in a position that Jesus would deem as goat. Because every church deserves a chance to do right and repair damage they magnified or caused. Because every church deserves a chance to do better. And because these principles apply to EVERY church. 

Wake up churches! You're hurting people more than you understand right now. You're pushing them away from God rather than drawing them to God. 

By the way, I am a millennial with autism. Double whammy. Churches! Do you want to know how to effectively minister to people like me? Talk to me! 

I challenge each person reading this to evaluate his or her own church though and see if you can identify some of the things I pointed out here. Then do one of those two things. But if you talk and they still refuse, I would suggest running and warning others who would be negatively impacted as well. 

I would rather that NO church be like that with anyone. And the fact a church was like that to me at all is sad and gives me much grief. But grace is winning right now and telling me to give them one last chance to correct things before they can do more harm. They can choose to take advantage of this moment and reach out. Or the alternative is one I cannot fathom right now because it is even worse. 

My hunch is that the reason Jesus has a special place and consideration for people with special needs is because He knows that these are often the people who cannot even defend themselves against a world that can be so mean and cold. And since EVERY person alive is an image bearer of the Creator, then if a child or adult has autism or any of the countless other conditions that I named or even didn't name, then to some degree, God has those characteristics too. Because here's the ultimate deal: Anyone who actually gets to know me for me knows that I am creative, loving, caring, compassionate, loyal, real, honest, and sometimes even funny because I see the world differently. And the thing is, many of my characteristics are also ones that God has! And it's the same with any of us special needs people. If a church rejects us, it essentially also rejects God because we are also God's children. 

I know some of you may be scratching your heads some after this. GOOD! See the comment box below? Use it! Because I want this post to be conversational and to result in conversations. It needs to. And if you follow me on YouTube, keep an eye out for a similar video soon. 

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