Leyland Brass Band were amazing last night. A world class brass band who happen to come from our town and doing a concert in our church. I never thought I would love brass bands so much, but then I never thought our 15 year old son would be playing trombone in another local brass band, either.
It was at primary school when a brass playing headteacher arranged for the whole year group to have free brass lessons for a year. The instruments were given out by size, so being one of the taller ones, our son got a trombone. A seed was planted that was watered and nurtured in him and still amazes us, his parents who are not musical at all.
The same sort of thing happened when I was a girl. It wasn’t music that someone planted into my life, but church. An elderly lady took my best friend to Sunday School with her every week. One week I was playing outside my house and she asked if I’d like to go too. Like the Pied Piper, she walked a long route to church, collecting various children, about 5 or 6 each week, and took them to church. None of our parents or siblings were interested in going and so, if she hadn’t have planted those seeds, I would have not have loved the Bible stories and Wesleyan hymns that still are the foundation of my faith.
‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.’ (John 4:34-38 NIVUK)
In our ministry to adults with learning disabilities we planted cress seeds last week. Some of the members came back this week very excited that their seeds were growing. We want the seeds of the gospel to grow in their lives too. We don’t always know what they already know. Some have been to church with their families and tell us about their faith (such as Liz who wrote a blog post for us – https://includedbygrace.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/what-one-member-thinks-of-the-good-news-group/ ) Others are unable to tell us and others we know have never been to church before coming to our group.
A retired church leader once said to me “Why bother teaching the Bible to people with learning disabilities when they have the understanding of a three year old?” … after quickly composing myself, I forgave him his ignorance (we are all ignorant until God open’s our eyes) and talked to him about how this was a wrong assumption and asked him would he teach the Bible to a 3 year old. He said yes, but not all of it as they couldn’t understand. But for the fact that it is a completely wrong assumption, we talked about the power of God’s word and how we cannot limit it’s power by assuming someone can’t understand it. It lead very well into the session I was delivering about how to communicate the Bible in accessible ways!!
We are farmers of God’s word, in this ministry and in all ministries. We are sowing the seeds of the gospel to EVERYONE and we are harvesting the souls who receive it in faith. But let’s not forget that God is the gardener, it is he who brings the water and the sunshine to nurture and grow those seeds and it not for us to exclude any people because we think they can’t understand it. Let’s not be a barrier to God’s power and transforming Spirit. read this
I think we also need to be sowing lots of seeds to help others in the church understand that including people with learning disabilities in their fellowships is something they need to do, and have high expectations of how they can receive the gospel, be ministers of God’s grace and serve the church family just as we all can. This is the purpose of this blog and why I’m so privileged to be involved with the Additional Needs Alliance, Prospects, Through the Roof, Urban Saints and Churches for All. I’m privileged to speak about what we do, be interviewed and write about it…anything that will help and equip others to become involved in a fabulous, rewarding and amazing ministry. I’m currently getting my talk together for the Additional Needs Alliance forum and Hand in Hand Conference in Eastbourne http://www.handinhandconference.com/ and wondering if I can get one of our GNG puppets into my suitcase…