Written by Courtney Roberts on January 6, 2023.
“For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also is Christ. . .God has arranged each one of the parts of the body just as he wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable.”1 Corinthians 12:12, 18-22 (HCSB)
Nearly 13% of people in the United States have some form of disability.* The Special Needs Ministry at Alliance seeks to support these individuals and their families, responding to their unique needs while esteeming them as image bearers of God, with an important role to play in the body of Christ.
Led by Ronny and Anne Margaret Wright, the ministry began in 2013, developing out of a life group for families with special needs. In the decade since, the ministry has offered respite nights for families/caregivers and hosted Joy Prom, an annual dance where individuals with special needs are celebrated and given five-star treatment as honored guests.
Additionally, the ministry has helped special needs families participate in other ministry areas around ABF, such as packing and processing OCC shoeboxes. Ronny and Anne Margaret’s hope for the future of the ministry is to create more opportunities for individuals with special needs to serve alongside their brothers and sisters. “The church needs these precious individuals as much as they need the church!” says Anne Margaret. They are eager to see those with special needs have meaningful fellowship with other believers and become integrated members of the church as a whole.
How to Get Involved
There are numerous ways to get involved with the Special Needs Ministry – volunteers for both Respite Night and Joy Prom are always welcome. However, Ronny and Anne Margaret also encourage us to simply reach out on an individual basis whenever we see an opportunity, day in and day out. “If you see someone struggling, ask how you can help. Extend grace or encouragement or a smile or a hug on a hard day. Invite someone with special needs to church or bring them a meal. Seek their advice and opinions. See that they are more like you than different. Include them in a conversation or a lunch date or a game or a Bible study. Appreciate the unique beauty God has forged in their lives through the fires of challenges!”
Individuals with special needs have important contributions to make to the furthering of God’s kingdom. As a church, let’s be intentional about not only caring for these brothers and sisters, but also creating space for them to join the mission.
“Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act: July 26, 2021.” United States Census Bureau, 26 May 2021, www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2021/disabilities-act.html. Accessed 2 Jan. 2023.