When we work with adults who have learning disabilities (the key word is “with” because working together is what we do), often the people who don’t have learning disabilities say how much the way we communicate makes more sense to them as well. When we have shorter talks, the Accessible Bible text, visuals, Makaton and BSL signing, a visual timetable, drama, sensory stories and interaction – then we find that all the carers, team and visitors learn just as much about the Bible as those who have learning disabilities. We are communicating in ways that help people understand the Gospel and the truths about Jesus in the Bible.
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, a key feature was that the disciples started to speak to the crowds in languages that they understood. I think the same applies to how we use signing, visuals and other forms of communication in our groups today. We are speaking in languages that people in our group understand. And it is the Holy Spirit who helps us do this.
God knows I am a visual learner. Visuals give my brain a better understanding than if someone tries to explain things to me in words. When I met with a financial adviser about setting up a new pension, he drew a diagram to explain all the complex financial information about setting it up for me. The normally complex information that would have gone way over my head, made sense in the way he communicated it. I felt confident that I understand my pension and the new laws surrounding it.
God knows my brain better than anyone. He made it and he knows just how to communicate to me so that I understand his word and his will. Over the years I’ve been a Christian, God has often given me pictures to show me what he wants me to do, or explain something I don’t understand. Those pictures have been in dreams, in art, and lots of them have been in nature… because that’s often where I go to pray and ask him what he wants me to do.
For over a year I have had 5 big ideas going around my head. All of them were in response to the needs of others that I have seen around me. All of them were valid, valuable services but to do all of them would be impossible. When I was in Keswick this year I sat looking at this view.
I counted 5 mountains to represent each of the projects that were in my mind and asked God to show me which ones I should be working on. The projects seem like mountains to climb. There will be a lot of work and new things to learn as I navigate getting to the summit. I thought the analogy of mountains suited my query to the Lord quite well.
One evening I again asked God to answer my prayers and show me which mountains to climb and which not to. I looked up to the view and suddenly two of the mountains were covered in cloud, where none of them had been a few minutes ago. The clouds stayed over these mountains for long enough for me to ask God if that really was my answer and for me to receive a deep sense of peace that it was.
God again was speaking to me in a language that I understand. Pictures make sense to me. I can ‘see’ the message and the Holy Spirit confirms it. On that same evening I was listening to the message at the Keswick Convention on my computer. The message was about mission. The answer to my prayers was about mission. I’m taking that as confirmation and going for it. I’m praying for protection, resources and guidance. And in my next post…I’ll tell you what those mission plans are…