“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” Matthew 25:40.
Jon and his congregation have taken the words of Matthew 25 to heart and embraced the idea of being responsible for the “least of these,” in the church, specifically the mentally and physically challenged.
Jon developed a heart for people with special needs after his experiences with his cousin who had Down syndrome. He recognized how much joy his cousin added to his family and understood the valuable perspective that each and every person who is mentally or physically challenged has to offer.
He realized that his church could benefit greatly from recognizing, celebrating, and learning from those with special needs in the church.
What’s happening now?
This new perspective has radically impacted the church and city.
Weekly parties are held for those with special needs to help involve them in church activities and give their caretakers a break.
Southland even offers two classes that are dedicated to mentally and physically challenged adults and children.
Jon’s church has taken steps to ensure that those with special needs don’t feel like “the least of these.”
“When we gather on Sundays there is no section for mentally or physically challenged individuals. We’re all together.”
Southland has recently begun incorporating special needs members, who love to worship but wouldn’t normally be put on stage, into their weekly worship services.
Long-time, beloved church member Donny who is known for his enthusiastic worship style was recently put on stage to help lead worship and the congregation loved it.
“He’s an important part of who we are.”
Jon said it’s fun to see special needs church members faces light up when they perform tasks around the church like greeting and assisting with the offering.
What can I do?
• Seek out those with special needs in your church and be a friend to them.
• Provide transportation for members who can’t make it to church on their own.
• Throw birthday parties and invite them to your family get-togethers.
• Acknowledge them and show them the love of God.