Special needs ministry is overlooked in many churches. Some families stop attending church. They don't expect others to take their child for the weekend or even an evening. They would like more than "Your family is a blessing. God knew you could handle this," and a smile.

Many parents do not want to ask for special help. They know their child is different and may cause "extra work." As "ambassadors for Christ," as God's fellow workers, church family should be able to minister to all children and adults. Jesus seemed to go out of His way to find what the world considers weak. The brain of the most profoundly impaired individual and the most brilliant human mind are both far removed from God's wisdom and brilliance. In comparison to God, I'm not sure you could measure the difference in the two. All people need to be ministered to.

Value and ministry should not be performance-based. Special needs people need to hear the truth and experience Christian love. Though the mind and body may be racked with profound disability, the spirit can thrive. If your child cannot be part of your church family, you may want to pray that God provides such a church family.

As homeschoolers, most of us have learned to dismiss weak socialization arguments. However, special needs children may have less opportunity. Some have personalities, abilities, or conditions that allow lots of interaction. Many don't. Parents must be careful since many special needs children are at high risk for abuse. Yet parents should find some community for their child (especially those with little extended family). Many special needs individuals are lonely, especially as they age. Seek trusted community.

As parents, we sometimes worry about today and even more about tomorrow. I know I do. My children have wonderful siblings who are devoted to them. Still, none of us knows what the future holds. Who will ultimately care for our children? Let's seek to find rest in the Lord. He will care for them.

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Marla is delighted to have accomplished her childhood dream of being a wife and mommy. Originally from the Shenandoah Valley, Marla is still a small-town girl at heart and cherishes her family and faith. Presently in their eleventh year of homeschooling, she and her husband are the parents of seven children, including two children with Down syndrome and two children in Heaven lost to a rare pulmonary disease.

Copyright 2007. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2007. Used with permission. Right now, 19 free gifts when you subscribe. www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com