Hello Faithful blog readers and new-to-this-blog visitors.
I have been thinking about who you might be, apart from comments, me reading your blogs or if I know you on another media there are very few clues as to who you are.
All I hope is that the insights, thoughts and advice I can share will help someone somewhere feel more confident and able to reach out to people with learning disabilities in their life and church.
Have you ever taken time out of your busy life just to reflect, pray and contemplate with God? Was it last week, or last year, or even years ago? There is great value in doing this but then there is the hurdle of actually doing it – organising work, family, life – to make a bit of space for you…and then we feel guilty.
But we mustn’t feel guilty…
This week I have made some space to reflect, seek God and to chat to people I trust about trying new things, dealing with hurdles and what seem to be huge mountains in the inclusion of people with learning disabilities in our churches. I am fortunate to have two very supportive leaders at church who both are very encouraging, willing and wise in working towards a more inclusive church. Both realise that we have a long way to go and both realise how far we have come.
The conclusion I have drawn from their wisdom is that we must not give into fear. When we don’t know what to do, fear can imprison us and we end up doing nothing. Therefore as one of them so wisely put it ‘what ever we do will be something this time next year we weren’t doing already.’
So my plea and encouragement to you is to just do something…anything…that makes a small faltering step forward. And here are just a few suggestions…
- Say hello, introduce yourself and ask their name to someone who has learning disabilities in your church, supermarket, street, any place. Adult or child. Then pray for them.
- Offer to do something practical at a group for people with learning disabilities – make the tea, clean up, put the tables out…anything really that helps and gives you chance to acclimatise to being around people with learning disabilities. you can then watch how others speak and interact with them and learn from their example.
- Meet with parents of a child with additional needs for a tea and cake session. Just listen and maybe ask them what THEY would like you to know and how could you pray for them. Then keep in touch and do what you promised – pray!
- Ask God to take away your fear and bring opportunities to try out the new courage he gives you…
- If you are a church or Sunday School leader use more visual images, slow down, break things into chunks and use objects that stimulate the senses. You’d be surprised at how many more people would engage with your talks – not just PLD!
- Think of where you’d like to be, what you’d like to be able to see in your church or group to make it inclusive. See it as a step on a tall staircase and then step onto the first step no-matter how far away the goal seems to be.
- Don’t think you are alone. We Are the Body of Christ and we were meant to work together. Network via social media, blogs and other people in your church, diocese, look at inclusive church websites and email them for a chat…I would support, help and encourage any of you and I know many others would too – just look at some of the people and organisations I have linked up with below.
Finally – who are you? What are you doing reading this blog? What are your simple ideas that would help others JUST DO SOMETHING?
https://www.facebook.com/groups/additionalneedsalliance/ – you can apply to join this group – so many great people to connect and share with.
http://www.prospects.org.uk/index.php/whatwedo/2/7 – a charity our Good News Group is supported by.
http://www.throughtheroof.org/ourprogramme/churches-inc – lots of good resources and is developing regional networks.
http://musingsofakidsworker.blogspot.co.uk – Kay’s blog which is very informative.
http://www.acceptrespectconnect.co.uk/ – just look at what they do!