“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.“– Genesis 1:27
Like I stated in my last post, Prior to going full time into ministry I worked with the elderly and disabled populations. I continued to serve these populations as a Chaplain even after exiting my professional role as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, a job I LOVED and was so blessed to have done for eight wonderful years.
I was a Chaplain at the long term care facility where I had worked as well as a visiting Chaplain at a psychiatric nursing home. I would visit both facilities at least once a week (sometimes twice) to conduct a Bible study/worship service as well as do room visits with those who were bed bound or who did not wish to attend the larger gathering.
When the lockdowns due to the virus began I was blessed to continue to minister to them via FaceTime calls and prerecorded videos. This continued for almost a full year until my schedule changed due to the newest blessing in my life (which I will discuss in a later post) and, at the same time, the Activities Director resigned from her position (she was my contact person and FaceTime facilitator).
It’s been 7 months since I have ministered with those precious people and I did not realize just how much I missed them until this past Monday when I was taking a walk through the park. As I was walking I saw a van pull in to the parking spot at the pavilion across from where I was standing. I watched as one by one special need adults began filing out of the van making their way to their preferred places under the pavilion. My heart leapt within me and I found myself taking a seat on the bench across from them.
I watched as they began to explore their surroundings. One of the young men began to rock back and forth and clap excitedly as he stood next to the sidewalk and stared into the woods! Most of them were so joyous and I longed so much to go over and join them. To talk with them, to giggle with them, to find out more about them- to just be in their presence! I stood up and began walking their way and as I passed by I cheerfully greeted them all. I held myself back from interfering because of the virus and peoples fears (as a former caretaker and therapist in the field I know that special precautions must be taken and I did not want to cause any undue stress during their time of recreation).
As I walked away I thanked God for them and I told Him that I sure do miss working with this special population! Doing sidewalk ministry at the abortion mill full time it is rare that someone is actually glad to see me there (at least in the moment)! I am not wanted, and in most cases, I am hated and despised!
It’s no wonder then that I so longed for ministry with these caring individuals who are, for the most part, always happy to have a visitor; to have someone in their company that sincerely cares for them! And even if they are gruff and aloof you can always catch that glimmer in their eye of joy from having someone there who cares. These are often my favorite people to minister to so maybe that’s why I can handle abortion ministry so well? However, I am pretty sure it’s all God giving me the grace and strength in both instances.
It is also obvious that God has given me a heart for the forgotten in our society! He planted the seeds so long ago! Some of the earliest seeds were planted at one of my most memorable and favorite jobs working as a weekend house manager at a home for special need adults when I was around 20 years old and going to college. I remember my first day on the job the supervisor took me around the house and introduced me to all of the residents . When she got to one she said, “this is Gary and he is nonverbal and cannot hear well!” She then leaned down beside him and yelled loudly right into his ear to tell him my name. He jumped back and just stared at me blankly.
Time passed and Gary quickly found a special place in my heart. I would talk to him in a normal tone and like a normal person. He never said a word back to me. Gary, like a few of the other residents, was blessed to have his parents come take him home for weekend visits about once a month. One weekend when he stayed at the group home we went on an outing. I took Gary and another resident with me on a little walk on a short path through the woods while the rest of the residents stayed with my coworker at the picnic tables near by. As soon as we were away from everyone and turning to come back Gary looked at me and with the clearest voice I have ever heard he said, “I want to go see my parents!” Shocked beyond belief, I just stood there and nodded at him for a few moments as I gathered myself. I don’t recall what I said to him in reply but I have never forgotten that one time Gary spoke to me! Gary, who everyone thought was nonverbal and practically deaf. Gary, who most people just ignored! He was there and he knew what was happening! He knew who he could and could not trust!
Many years later when I started my work as a therapist I had another nonverbal person enter my life. This time in a nursing home. This lady had endured a severe stroke. She was so lonely, so ignored, that she would often be found nervously scratching the same spot on her nose which resulted in the formation of a wound that could never seem to get healed.
She finally got referred for therapy and several of us began working with her. I would talk and talk to her during our therapy sessions. I never paid any attention to the fact that she did not talk in return. Sometimes, she would nod her head when asked a question and sometimes she would just stare at you with a little grin. The more I worked with her the more I knew that she was totally aware of what was happening!
One day when we were practicing transfers from her bed to her wheelchair and back, I found myself talking nonstop to her. I finally realized what I was doing so I paused and jokingly said, “I sure talk a lot don’t I?” She smiled her little grin and slowly she said out loud, “Yes! Yes, you do!” Like Gary, she too had proven the majority wrong! The spot on her nose all but faded away as she received the attention and love that all people deserve.
There are countless others that have also made an impact on me over the years. Two of the most special are featured in the video posted below that was recorded last July!
Now, this leads us to what happened this past Saturday at the abortion mill where I have regularly ministered for the past few years. This was one of the MOST HEARTBREAKING and INFURIATING conversations I have ever had on the sidewalk! What you have just read should aid in your understanding just why I became so upset but, really, the horror of his choice does that well enough! The video speaks for itself!
I broke down after this conversation and had a hard time calling out to the stream of parents still marching into the mill! All babies are precious! There is just something so very special about humans who have Down syndrome or other “disabilities” or “afflictions” that touches my heart and soul so deeply! There is no coincidence to the fact that on Monday God reminded me of my deep love for them and on Saturday I was confronted by someone who had come to pay to have one of them murdered!
I do not know what God has planned from it all but I do know that He has compelled me to write this. I pray it opens hearts to the truth that all human beings are created in God’s image just as His Word states in Genesis 1:27.
I TRULY believe God designed these special special people specifically to draw us closer to Himself! They minister to us on so many deep levels! Whether they be born with something such as down syndrome or acquire something like schizophrenia or dementia later in life. God has shown me more than I can articulate in words the importance and value of ALL human beings. No matter someone’s perceived abilities or lack thereof- if they are alive they are a blessing and deserve our protection, love, attention, and care and NOT to be mistreated, ignored, and, most of all, murdered!
ALL life is precious ✝️