Several months after launching this blog, I shared a little of Annie’s story, along with a link to an outstanding series of blog posts written by Annie’s mom, Katie Wetherbee, our Director of Training at Key Ministry.
Annie’s a very impressive kid. She’s been very active in serving through her local church and launched “Tiger Stripes,” a service group composed of students at Chagrin Falls High School who volunteer to help kids with special needs at the Intermediate School (grades 4-6) be included in community education activities.
Annie has volunteered to speak on behalf of Key Ministry at the Joni and Friends Through The Roof Summit last fall at Cedarville University (Annie is on my right in the picture seen here, with Abby Hamilton on my left). She’s been accepted into Calvin College this fall with plans to pursue a career in Speech and Language Pathology.
Annie’s story is a great demonstration of God’s plans being fulfilled through the adversity of a disabling condition…
First, Annie is fortunate to have had parents well-grounded in their relationship with Jesus. Katie’s work with Key Ministry speaks for itself in expressing where she is in her faith. I served for two years with Annie’s father (Tom) on the elder board of their local church and can attest to his spiritual maturity, wisdom, patience, clear thinking and grace. There’s no doubt that Annie grew up in a home where the directives expressed in Deuteronomy 6 were implemented on a daily basis.
Next, Annie’s family found a church shortly after they moved to Cleveland where they could feel confident Annie would be well-cared for while they had the opportunity to worship together. Her parents already had a strong spiritual foundation at the time of Annie’s illness, but where can parents of kids with disabilities go to come to know Jesus and become strong enough in their faith to implement Deuteronomy 6 if they aren’t raised with that foundation? Where can they go if their assumptions about God are challenged as they experience the daily challenges that occur when a child has a disability? That’s why having churches in every city prepared to welcome families of kids with disabilities is so critically important.
Finally (the indispensable component of the strategy)…Through grace, the child with a disability comes to faith in Jesus and is filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Annie’s situation, the plan was executed perfectly. Congratulations are in order for Annie’s parents, her extended family, and the people of Fellowship Bible Church who supported and encouraged Annie and her family through the past thirteen years. Truly a job well done! But how many kids are there like Annie who won’t come to know Jesus because they don’t have churches prepared to welcome them and parents equipped to shepherd them in their faith?
Finally…Congratulations to you Annie! We’re honored to have you serve as a volunteer on our team and confident that you’ll fulfill God’s purpose in amazing ways in your generation.
Key Ministry’s mission is to help churches reach families affected by disability by providing FREE resources to pastors, volunteers, and individuals who wish to create an inclusive ministry environment. We invite you to partner with us as we advance the Kingdom through our collaboration with the local and global church. We have designed our Key Catalog to create fun opportunities for our ministry supporters to join in our mission. The Key Catalog includes a variety of gift options for every budget. A gift from the Key Catalog also makes for an amazing gift for a friend or loved one who is passionate about seeing the Body of Christ become more inclusive of people with disabilities. Click here to check it out!