Saturday, 28 July 2012

Special Children, Special Parents

I’ve just returned from a week in Shepton Mallet at the New Wine Christian Conference leading a venue for the parents of children with special needs. I had the privilege of meeting some really amazing people who are struggling with life in a way that I could never understand, yet to my surprise are some of the strongest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

The whole week wasn’t dissimilar to my normal week, chatting to parents, drinking tea, eating too much cake, praying for people, listening and crying; the only difference being that these people were the parents of some really special children with a wide range of special needs. My sole purpose of being there for the week was to hopefully bless them in every way I could. Now, after being home for less than 12 hours, I find that they blessed me far more than I feel I blessed them.

Most of the conversations we had were about the struggles of raising a child with special needs, conversations that left me angry on their behalf for the constant fighting they have to do against bureaucracy, funding etc in order for their children to have a similar standard of life as mine girls do. Simple things that I take for granted, like my children attending school every day, are hurdles for them.

One conversation that has impacted me and will stay with me forever was with the lovely mum of an 11 year old boy with autism. She was telling me about a gang of boys aged 11-14, on her estate who have recently made her son’s life a misery, hanging around outside her house hurling verbal abuse at him as he goes in and out of the house.

As a good policeman’s wife I immediately said “well the police are cracking down on anti-social behaviour at present, maybe you should call them and ask them to sort those boys out!” My first thoughts were to protect her and her son.

She looked at me and said “Yes, that is an option, but what I thought I would do; what I feel God challenging me to do, is invite them in to spend some time with my son. I think if they knew him they wouldn’t be scared of him, maybe that is why they are behaving as they are, there is nothing else for them to do on the estate.”

WOW, I didn’t know what to say other than “I guess that is what Jesus would do” and check my attitude.

What an amazing woman. On top of her everyday struggles of raising a child with special needs, hers and her special son’s life was being made a misery by these boys and instead of getting ‘angry and even’ she was thinking ‘what would Jesus do’ and deciding to love them, feed them and educate them rather than retaliate in any way.

I felt truly humbled by her attitude, despite everything going on her life she was choosing to keep her eyes on Jesus and trust Him. Not be of the world and ignore and sideline those boys as it seems possible that their families and local community were doing.

What an amazing woman, I hope you can join me in praying for her and her son. That God will honour her obedience and that those boys will become her son’s best friends. That they will ask her, in time, why she did what she did and she can tell them about the God who loves her, her son and THEM!

I look forward to hearing her story next year.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48