Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

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It’s been two years since I came to Keswick as part of the Prospects Team.   I blogged our week (starting here, Why volunteer?, A bit of a drama,  People, puppets and praise,  God’s heart, Would I do it again?  ) and really enjoyed being part of  a wider work in the inclusion of people with learning disabilities.

I’m back this year and am going to blog again, and this time reflect on what’s happening in other groups across the country.  The theme for Keswick this year is “Captivated” and to be captivated by Jesus through God’s word is the aim.

I have to admit – I’ve already been captivated by God’s creation.  This is the view from my bedroom window in the accommodation the team are sharing….

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I’ve brought along the puppets again.  In fact, I’ve so many puppets with me that I’m hoping the workshop on Tuesday is very well attended.  I’m blessed to have my daughter helping me out (along with the team) on that day.  Our aim is to teach some puppeteering skills and then split the group into two.  One group will learn to lip sync and dance to a song with my daughter, and the other group will learn to lip sync and tell “knock knock” jokes with me!  Here are just a small selection of the puppets I’ve brought with me – thanks to a lot of friends lending me their collections for the week!

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The wider family

Already I have spoken to Audrey who runs a Prospects group in Kendal and Helen who runs a group in Worthing.  These groups both meet monthly,  and have been going for many years.  What is so encouraging is listening to their passion about ‘enabling’ people with learning disabilities to grow in their faith and to serve and use their gifts in the church.  What is disappointing is the common negative responses we’ve all come across from people who have low expectations of what people with learning disabilities can understand and achieve.  I’m going to interview them in more depth as the week goes on as it would be good to have a wider view of what Prospects groups do around the country and share it with you all.  I am really encouraged to see how many groups there are.  All quietly getting on with teaching, discipling and enabling people with learning disabilities to be part of the Body of Christ.

In other news,

two churches in my area have recently approached us about setting up their own groups.  Please pray that the leaders in those churches get behind this and fully support them.  Pray that the volunteers that they need come forward and that people with learning disabilities in those areas will come to church and know Jesus as their saviour.  How wonderful it is to see God building his church with those who have for so long been seen as less than human, unable to understand or participate.

In my experience – that’s the best kind of church I have ever been to.

Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has messaged and spoken to me after my last two blog posts.  I have felt like the storms are abating and that the sun is beginning to shine through the clouds.  Your love and advice has been so appreciated and I know God hasn’t finished with us yet.  Bless you and I hope he will carry you through your storms too.  In Jesus’s name.   

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