Kelli Ra Anderson has launched a Special Needs and Disability Ministry Leaders Forum on Facebook that has become an essential resource for over 400 ministry leaders. Tonight, she shares on the topic Parting the Sea. Here’s Kelli Ra…
Sometimes God parts the sea to accomplish His plan. Or sometimes He divides a river. Or He diverts a stream. But big splash or small, He waits for our partnering “yes” and He looks for our first trusting steps of obedience, before we begin to make sense of His bigger plans.
Three years ago I felt God’s nudge to do something that made little sense. As a long-time journalist I knew better than to write an article before pitching it to an editor. And I knew the chances of getting published when you don’t have an inside track are slim to none. But God was pretty insistent: interview leaders of the most influential special needs ministries around the country about how hidden disabilities are being addressed in the Church, and get the resulting article into the hands of pastors all around the country.
In true-to-God fashion, He pulled it off in a big way that could only have happened His way. The feature story was quickly accepted by a national publication for lay-leaders and pastors. That was the good news. However, over the next two years, one crazy snafu followed another, resulting in one crazy delay after another.
Finally, one morning over coffee, I surrendered. Whether it got published or not, the story and its purpose was His and I was okay with that. The very next day I received an email: the story was going to finally appear in the next issue.
God’s timing was perfect. The story’s release coincided with the yearly Southern Baptist Convention at which the president of Joni and Friends distributed copies of the article. After the story was published, invitations to speak on the topic exposed me to a whole new world of special needs ministry leaders and their struggles.
But God wasn’t done. He prodded me to do one more thing that made little sense: to start an online forum where these same ministry leaders could experience a much-needed daily exchange of information and encouragement that was previously only possible during yearly conventions and the occasional local seminar.
As a technophobe who can barely navigate her way around email, and hopelessly untrained in marketing, networking and social media, the idea of somehow bringing hundreds of total strangers together on a web page I didn’t know how to create was simply absurd. Funnier still was the fact that at the time, I wasn’t even involved in special needs ministry. But God was insistent.
So I rolled up my digital sleeves and hammered out a very basic Facebook page. Then, I picked up the phone and spoke with the handful of special needs ministry leaders who had so graciously allowed me to interview them years before. Within weeks, news of the site began to circulate around the country and people were joining!
Today, one year old this month, SNADLEADERS (Special Needs and Disabilities Ministry Leaders Forum) has almost 400 members and is still growing. It has proved to be a supportive and informative site where leaders (both newbies and well-seasoned), can ask their questions, offer their input, empathize over shared frustrations, and cheer one another on in the name of Christ.
It should have come as no surprise. God has a long and glorious history of asking His people to do the absurd or to undertake the improbable. He utterly delights in parting the seas, and rivers and streams of our lives if only we will say “yes” to His partnership and to step into the water.
Kelli Ra Anderson is a journalist, blogger, podcaster, and author of her recently published 60-day devotional, Divine Duct Tape, that comes from her own experience as a mother of three teens (two with Asperger’s Syndrome).
Her heart for encouraging parents of faith with special needs children has lead to her involvement in the award-winning daily blog for parents of special needs children, Not-Alone.org, the creation of her blog (kellira.com), speaking opportunities, co-leading a special needs ministry, and the creation of an online support community for special needs ministry leaders (see Facebook, SNADLEADERS).
Kelli currently lives in St. Charles, Illinois with her husband of 23 years and middle school band director, Adrian, their three teens, Johnathan, David and Sarah, one large Golden-doodle and two long-surviving cats. When not pounding the keys on a computer, Kelli can usually be found digging in the dirt, experiencing new culinary adventures in the kitchen or seeking out God’s therapy in the great outdoors.