- Emily McGowan and Jessica Crumpton (our Special Needs coaches on the Pelham Road and Powdersville campuses, respectively) explained the general process of how a child with special needs gets ministered to during our weekend programming. Most importantly for this audience, we wanted to give an overview of how we try to reach out to families who have children with special needs. In these cases, we expect our volunteers to go the extra mile, as a way to love on these families.
- Jimmy & Susan Bates, and Joey & Charley Altom, two families that have children with special needs, shared their perspectives as parents. In both cases, these families have been ministered to by other folks at Grace Church, and this not only encourages them, but has freed them up to minister to others (II Corinthians 1:3-5).
The volunteers in attendance asked some good questions, especially of the Bates and Altoms, leading to further discussion and explanation. For example, the parents said that it's OK for a church to tell a parent in this situation, "I don't know the answer, but we'd love to work with you to find a solution, if you'll help us." Also, they were asked by a volunteer, "Do you want to know when your child misbehaves, or do you just need a break from that?" All the parents were emphatic that they DO want to know about the behavior of their children, so that they can better shepherd them.
We look forward to more events like this, perhaps from a different perspective or for a different audience, as we continue to seek ways to assist families in leading their children, and to equip volunteers to shepherd children.
Take some time to check out our special needs page on our website, and watch this video about the Altoms' story when they started attending Grace Church over two years ago.
PS -- Special thanks to Amy Fenton Lee, author of The Inclusive Church, who made the 2 hour trip up to Greenville to check out this event.