A Ministry Seeking Wholeness In a Broken World
Assistant to the President for Special Needs Ministries
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Welcome to the Special Needs Ministries website!
We invite you to browse through the different pages
of this resource center. The theme of this ministry
says it well: “All are gifted, needed and treasured!”
For decades, those who have not been able to see, hear, walk or communicate like the majority have often been grouped into a category referred to as “those with disabilities.” While it is important to recognize one’s limitations, this kind of label can have a limiting effect on the person’s own self-perception and what they can actually accomplish. This can happen in a number of ways:
First, the recipients receiving the “disabled identity” are reminded of what they cannot do.
Secondly, those who see others as being disabled provide a limited kind of care or encouragement by addressing what they perceive as limitations rather than who the person is as an individual. Easily overlooked is the fact that an individual comes packaged with unique possibilities and gifts to share with others.
Thirdly, such a distinction unintentionally suggests that others do not have a disability problem. The truth is, we all are broken in some way and are also in need of wholeness. While Special Needs Ministries does focus on specific areas of concern, we do so recognizing that we all are on a similar journey. No one should travel alone, which is why we have added “caregivers” to our lists of individuals who need our support. This is a ministry for all and by all. Together, with God’s guidance, we can begin a journey towards greater wholeness.
A total member involvement approach suggests that we are all created in the image of God regardless of our limitations. Special Needs Ministries begins with the premise that to each person must be given the opportunity to not only accept Christ but to also share Christ with others. Originally we began with global ministries “for” and “with” the Deaf, the blind, those physically and/or mentally limited and the orphans. However, we soon realized that there is another group that also needs additional support and recognition and that is those who serve these five named categories of special needs as caregivers.
It is often said that “we must give them a piece of the pie” as a way of showing recognition and inclusiveness. However, this can be quite limiting. It separates the “piece of the pie” from the whole pie. Special Needs Ministries does recognize uniqueness, but not at the cost of losing a sense of inclusion. All are invited. All are needed. All are gifted. When all are included we can all learn from each other, when “the whole pie is shared.”
Together we are the church and together we lead in the church and together we worship in the church. We also serve the world together as a church whether we be deaf, blind or lame. Special Needs Ministries begins and ends with a new identity—we are one in Christ. Awareness, acceptance, training and ministry are all part of Total Member Involvement, and Special Needs Ministries will be working to help this happen. Limitations will be recognized, but so will be the unique abilities of each *person.
Special Needs Ministries and total member involvement are not about giving those with Special Needs (Deaf, blind, lame, mentally or emotionally challenged, orphans and caregivers) a piece of the pie. It is about providing and sharing the whole pie with everyone, and that includes those with special needs. They, too, have much to contribute!