A success story from my church…

BPCFor those who spearhead the cause of inclusion of kids with disabilities at church, ministry frequently involves countless hours of work, lots of frustration and little in the way of immediate reward. I saw the following story in my church bulletin this morning and wanted to share it to remind everyone how much of a difference inclusion ministry done well can make in the lives of the families served. Kudos to Beth Golik and her crew at Bay Presbyterian Church for a job well done! Thanks as well to the Board, elders, pastoral staff and ministry leaders who place high priority on making this type of ministry available to kids and families in the Greater Cleveland area.

My son has mild autism and ADHD so his learning style is unique to that of others. The concept of God and faith is complicated and even more so for a concrete thinker. I wanted more than anything for him to develop a relationship with God and follow in my Catholic footsteps. The religion classes he was attending were two hours long – too long for someone who needs lessons broken down into smaller chunks, and too long for someone who cannot sit still without frequent breaks.

The teacher tried tolerating him but the kids began picking on him. One day he just started crying and said he didn’t want to go back. This experience made my son feel anger towards God. “Why did he have to make me this way?” “I don’t know if I will be able to go to Heaven but I will try.”

It seemed as if Heaven suddenly became “a pie-in-the-sky” for a little boy who was always getting in trouble and needing several redirections. Sadly, Hell was our next-door neighbor.

photoI first learned about Bay Presbyterian Church through the International Music Fest and decided to contact the church for help. We decided to try the Special Needs Ministry here at the church and the first day I took my son he kicked and screamed the whole way there. But to my surprise, when we were walking to our car afterwards he said “I love you God.” Just hearing him say that made all the difference. We no longer have fights about going to church, now he wants to go to church each week.

I think that what makes the volunteers so unique at Bay Presbyterian Church is that they treat each individual with respect, patience and kindness. My son picked up on that right away. They taught him that God loves him and that he is special (not different, wrong or bad), and he wants to learn about God and learn at his own pace. He wants to say prayers and pray for himself and others. Heaven doesn’t seem like a pie-in-the-sky anymore – his relationship with God is blooming. I am so grateful that God led us to this wonderful church and hand-picked such a special group of volunteers that are making a lifelong impact on these kids. I am at peace that my son has found a place in this world where he feels welcomed, valued, has friends he cares about and most importantly is developing a meaningful relationship with God.

Editor’s note…We in no way are singling out the Catholic church for criticism by sharing this story-some Catholic parishes we serve are among the greatest champions of including kids with disabilities. Sadly, this family’s prior experience before coming to BPC could have occurred in a church of any Christian denomination or tradition.

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Square Peg Round HoleKey Ministry has assembled a helpful resource on the topic of Asperger’s Disorder and Spiritual Development. This page includes the blog series Dr. Grcevich and Mike Woods developed for Key Ministry, links to lots of helpful resources from other like-minded organizations, and Dr. Grcevich’s presentation on the topic from the 2012 Children’s Ministry Web Summit. Click here to access the page!

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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One Response to A success story from my church…

  1. Ann Holmes says:

    So wonderful to hear another success story!

    Like

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