There’s nothing like the chance to be interviewed on the radio to make me quake in my shoes and wonder what I’m doing this for…
But it is good to stop, reflect and think about why I write this blog…and what I expect God might do with it. So my friend did a little interview with me to give me some practice….
Q1. Why did I start to write a blog?
When three of us (Bob, Gill and I) unexpectedly had to take on the leadership of the Good News Group about 3 years ago, I remember writing in my journal “please God, don’t make me do this, I can’t do it, I don’t want to do it.” Well, it is obvious what God’s answer to that was! But because we all felt inadequate, it made us pray…and pray…and pray. One thing we prayed was for God to share his vision for the group with us so that we could have some idea that we we walking in the direction he wanted us to. The word that came to us was “REACHOUT”. And so, looking at the way the world works today, I decided to write a blog about what we do and see how it would reach out to others.
Q2. Why is it called “includedbygrace”?
Grace is a wonderful and amazing gift of God through Jesus Christ. It is grace that accepts and loves us no matter what we have done and grace makes God’s love unchanging and undeserved. I live in the light of that grace and so do we all. “Included by grace” means all of us, whether society sees us as acceptable or not, and as inclusion is the focus of what we do, then the name seemed to explain it.
Q3. What response have you had to your blog?
I expected a few people to follow and comment on the blog but I have been really pleased at how many people do read it. It’s a thrill when I look at the STATs and see people from all over the world looking at what I have written. I get a lot of private messages, as well as public comments, because there are parents and individuals for who church has been really difficult, and their stories help me form what advice and issues I need to add to my blog.
Q4. How is God building this ministry’s ‘Reaching out’?
Being part of the Facebook page for the Additional Needs Alliance has complimented this blog really well and enabled us to build connections with the main Christian disabilty charities. I now have great links with http://www.prospects.org.uk , http://www.throughtheroof.org , http://www.urbansaints.org , our local diocese, http://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/Family-life/parent-support/parenting-additional-challenges/additional-needs-support, http://www.churchesforall.org.uk and http://musingsofakidsworker.blogspot.co.uk/ . As a group we are so encouraged and equipped by these links and love the fact that there is a great network for us all to belong to. They are ‘Reaching out’ too!
Last year, my blog attracted an enquiry from the writer Sarah Lothian who wrote the article about us that was in this August’s Christianity magazine and locally we have been invited to share what we do and how we do it with a number of different churches and groups. Here is just a snap shot of some of the ‘reaching out’ we have been doing…
- Closer work with our sister church, St John’s, who run a monthly group for ALD.
- Presentation to the Liverpool Disability Network.
- Talk to over 60 pastoral assistants in our diocese.
- Article in Christianity magazine.
- Practical activities with Lancashire Spirituality Network.
- Visit to support and encourage Kendal Propsects Group.
- Training and support for a child with autism at a church in Preston.
- Invited to talk about our Good News Group and inclusive church on Premier Radio (coming soon!)
- Talks with printers / publishers to print and make our Bible teaching materials available to others.
Q5. So what are your expectations for the future?
My husband has a saying, “expect the unexpected” and that is a great thing to keep in mind. This ministry is God’s work and we are just his servants. I don’t want to put limits on what God wants to do, and I don’t want to impose my plans on His. I often say how much this ministry is dependent on the fantastic team of people who are committed to serving at the Good News Group every week. They turn up, pray faithfully and serve with love in their hearts. (I always say that I am just the ‘gobby’ one who talks about it to everyone!) The ministry is about including people with learning disabilties in the gospel message, changing their lives through Jesus Christ, and then giving them a place in our church family. As the Bible says; it does not depend on man’s efforts, but on God’s mercy. So let’s watch this space….
My visit to London is now shaping up nicely. We’ve mangaed to coordinate the Premier Radio interview, the Christian New Media conference and Award ceromony into one weekend! I am greatly blessed with funding for my train ticket and accomodation offers and am very grateful to those who have offered and given. All I need to do now is practice my humble acceptance or gracious in defeat face for the award night….hope I don’t cry either way..LOL!