Continuing this month’s theme of Ministering to Families in Crisis, join Vangie and special guest Jolene Philo as they discuss practical strategies churches can employ as they come alongside families in periods of crisis.
Jolene Philo was a teacher for 25 years and began writing in 2003, publishing articles for parenting a special needs child and preparing children for a hospital stay. She is the author of A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Children with Critical or Chronic Illness and Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs. Jolene speaks at regional and national parenting and special needs ministry conferences.
Shaping Special Hearts: Family in Crisis Part 2 11/26 by CMConnect | Religion Podcasts.
Happy Trails to You
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
The invitation to attend came quite unexpectedly. “Oh, you don’t want to miss this!” they exclaimed. Unable to resist, I arranged to make my way to First Baptist Church of Tucker for their annual “Special Needs Ministry Sunday.” Each year on this designated Sunday, the ministry devoted to people with differing abilities leads the congregation in songs of worship, offering and prayer.
I have been to all kinds of worship services. From High-Church liturgy to church camp vespers, I have had the opportunity to worship in many settings representative of many styles of sermon and song. But I have never encountered any worship setting quite as rapturous as what I would participate in on that day.
The excitement was palpable upon entering the beautiful sanctuary of this church that was celebrating its 120th year. When the ushers who greeted me at the door learned that I had come especially to attend this service because of its leadership, I was personally escorted to a pew of honor where I could have an unobstructed view. The choir loft was already filled with PURE people and their caregivers, who were eagerly awaiting the start of the day’s service.
After a brief welcome and responsive reading, ending with the instruction from Psalm 133:1, we sang a few songs of praise in rapid succession. Appropriately, we confirmed “How Good and Pleasant” it is when God’s people can dwell together in unity. As if to answer how this can be among a people so diverse, the opening strains of “Jesus Messiah” began to play.
I gazed from the screen where the words were being projected to see many members of this PURE choir using American Sign Language to tell the story in song of a messiah who was the “…name above all names…Lord of all.” By the time we reached the bridge, each PURE person was intoning with all his or her might “…all our hope in you, all our hope is in you. All the glory to you God, the Light of the World!” Tears began to course down my cheeks that would not stop until the Benediction.
Read more about this PURE worship experience here
 The Holy Bible: Today’s New International Version. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), Ps 133:1.
Shaping Special Hearts: Family in Crisis 11/12 by CMConnect | Religion Podcasts.
How can we pratically minister to families of special needs children in the midst of crisis? What kinds of emotional and physical supports can we offer families in times of hospitalization, illness and in the face of everyday challenges? Join Vangie Rodenbeck and her special guests Adeye Salem & Tina Kacirek. Both bloggers and moms of special needs children, Tina and Adeye have layers of rich experience that will empower you in your ministry to families in transition and crisis.
I wanted to highlight another piece that I wrote for PURE Ministries about how respite ministry looks a lot like “kingdom come.” I hope you enjoy it.
After 3-hour night of respite ministry, I realize I hadn’t really known what to expect. That night, I had seen amazing relationships being forged between typical people and those we cherish as PURE. I had personally witnessed a schedule and format that was complete genius as it allowed everyone to focus on their strengths and abilities rather than their deficits. Meeting and speaking with servants of this incredible ministry had left my fingers itching to write. But we were instructed to assemble in a large group meeting room for some kind of benedictory activity, so I slowly navigated toward a seat in the back of the room.
The last thing I expected, knowing how much energy this night had cost me personally, was a worship service. I don’t think I had ever considered what it would be like to worship with so many PURE people. Because my son’s primary anxiety trigger is auditory input, worship is very difficult for us. Noah simply cannot handle all the sensory information in the form of music, voices, clapping hands and moving bodies. His typical posture is to sit, shoulders hunched-over in a protective posture, with his hands over his ears.
This has perhaps been one of my greatest sorrows as the mother of my PURE child. Worship through music has been a life-long love of mine. I learned not only to sing harmony in church at my grandmother’s side, but also to sight-read music. As a matter of fact, the first book I probably every “read” was a hymnal. As I grew I joined choirs and, eventually, became a children’s choir director and worship leader. Not being able to share my love of worship with Noah has been difficult. I suppose it is natural to want to take that which brings me so close to God and impart it to my son. But for Noah, it is anything but “natural.” It is painful.
As we took our seats in the meeting room, I double-checked Noah’s noise reducing headphones to insure that they would help him endure a time of worship. I was comforted to see other PURE people entering the room taking similar precautions. So I settled us in as Miss Lorie began a few preliminary announcements. Then the completely unexpected happened.
After calling into the audience for the worship leader, she handed the microphone over to a young PURE man who was about 14 years of age. It was clear that he had done this before, for everyone began clapping in preparation for a song that I would never forget.
Read the rest of the story by following this link: Soon and Very Soon
a story about kingdom friendship that I wrote for PURE Ministries…
There was a buzz in the air as volunteers received their assignments for the evening. As a visitor, I was observing from a safe distance when I heard a child ask a question that would re-frame my thinking for many days to come. In a loud and breathless voice she asked, “Will there be lots of ‘Buddies’ here tonight?”
She was a PURE child coming to participate in the monthly respite ministry at Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, Georgia. While I listened to a volunteer greet her and assure her that, yes, there would be plenty of “Buddies” here this evening, I couldn’t help but marvel at her question.
At first, her question didn’t make sense to me. Because this was my first visit to a respite event, I was intent on seeing the schedule and organization of such an occasion. My mind was readied to make a list of administrative tasks required to accomplish such an event. I was ready to do the mental gymnastics necessary to generate a simple budget for this kind of ministry. My notebook and pen were prepared to record basic supplies essential for an event that I was sure would be overwhelming in scope.
Still, her simple question took me by surprise. I assumed she would want to talk about the activities she would be doing. But, she didn’t. Her primary interest wasn’t which activities she would encounter that evening or whether or not her favorite interest would be represented. She simply wanted to know who was coming to serve that evening. My task-oriented mind had immediately jumped to the issue of recruiting for such a ministry emphasis. Focusing on all the special training this must require, I was sure that would be the crux of the information that would fill my notebook and calm my questioning mind. Little did I know that at the end of the night, I would leave with scarcely a half page of notes yet with every question I could possibly have answered in full.
Read more about this amazing ministry by following this link the PURE Ministries blog.
Some of you know that I entered a partnership with PURE Ministries this fall. I’m doing a lot of writing for their blog right now, so I wanted to steer some of you in that direction so that you can follow me there as well. Last week, Jason and I collaborated on an article about language for special needs ministry. Hope you enjoy!
What’s in a Name?
by Jason & Vangie Rodenbeck
One of the most frequent questions I (Vangie) am asked as I consult in the field of special needs ministry nationwide is, “What should we call it?” This is a product of our culture’s need to market goods and services, thus “branding” them so that the consumer is both targeted and reached. In a time when other ministries within a church might be named in a way which conveys the meaning behind the ministry but also attracts ministry “consumers,” special needs specific ministries cannot be left aside, lest they become anonymous and undistinguished service projects.
The greater problem inherent within this system is language itself. Just as the methods of branding and advertising are of recent advent to the Church and its ministries (new during the last twenty years) so are the implications of language usage. In an interview with Stanford University Press, philosopher Jacques Derrida said of using language responsibly “we are all mediators, translators.” What Derrida was saying is that our world and culture assign meaning to words and language regardless of the intent of the author of those words.
Language for use in the realm of special needs ministry is no different. Intrinsic in the use of words to describe a ministry of this nature, are certain attitudes and assumptions of our culture. Even when the intent is not to marginalize or “put down,” language can communicate a posture toward a people group. Already, I have entered the controversy with the use of the term “special needs” to differentiate this ministry from any other based on a physical, emotional or intellectual difference rather than strength…
Follow this link to read the rest of the thoughts Jason and I put together on appropriate language for PURE ministry here.