Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The Great and the Small, Part 4—How One Small Girl Inspired A Ministry of Access
A few weeks ago, I recounted the story of how Lon Solomon, pastor of the Mega-Church, McLean Bible, came to Christ through his contact with one man who he’d once called the weirdest man in the universe. Today, I want to tell you about the little girl who encouraged him to start a ministry that would impact hurting families across the country—his daughter Jill.
Jill was born to Lon and his wife, almost twenty years ago, with a seizure disorder that left her severely disabled. And though God used this little girl (now a young woman) to stretch and strengthen the faith of a man who is pastor to thousands, she may be most credited for her inspiration to create Access Ministry, the special needs ministry at McLean. What is Access Ministry? It is a multidimensional program for families which includes small groups for Mom’s with special needs children, day programs for adults with disabilities, Bible classes for SN children, lecture series for families, friendship clubs, support groups, signing groups, summer camp and family events. <deep breath here> But if that weren’t enough, McLean Bible Church goes the step further to “spread the love.” Once a year they hold a national conference designed to help churches, communities and families to provide for members with special needs. It’s called Accessibility Summit. I highly recommend this summit to anyone who would like to discover new ways to help this community, especially since it is a hurting community within the Body and is too often neglected by it.
Often, families with special needs forego the blessing of church attendance because they have a child who will not “behave” in the sanctuary and the children’s program cannot accommodate them. These families need Christ as much as anyone else, but are sometimes forgotten as we strive to reach families solely through Christian sports ministries which only alienate the disabled further.
Having visited McLean, I can tell you, they do not alienate the disabled in any way. I have written on blogs about how I rarely see an accurate microcosm of the special needs community among church attenders. The percentage of disabled in most churches on a given Sunday seems much smaller than that which is among us in the public sphere. Not so at McLean. As I walked the corridors of the complex, I encountered groups of individuals signing to one another, scads of members in wheelchairs, parents gripping the hands of their autistic children and members leading the blind into elevators. I was in awe! This is the fruit of Jill’s inspiration.
My prayer today is that you, the reader, will visit the Accessibility Summit site and beg your church to send someone to the conference April 20-21 this year so YOUR church can be part of this great ministry.
Other posts in this series:
The Great and the Small--God
The Great and the Small--The Man Who Inspired a Congregation ... Sorta
The Great and the Small--The Button Lady