A day of worship with…
a pastor with autism…
a pastor who is deaf…
and a musician who is blind.
About words used in this essay: I’m aware that some of the words in it some may find offensive in todays cultural climate. To some of us the words matter personally, to others they’re mere descriptions of personal reality.
Of course, words matter, and they can hurt.
Words have, at times, an unfortunate tendency to cause emotional harm and have been used as weapons. For such reason we should choose our words and phrases with care.
But, on the other hand, words in and of themselves are harmless, they can only cause pain if we use them to those ends and if the listener allows them to wound. Otherwise they have no power to inflict a reaction.
I use these words, especially “deaf” and “blind” to address the perceptions and assumptions of others who are unfamiliar with those disabilities. They are used as ways towards “teachable moments”. That being said, its about the various kinds of those “teaching moments” that God, in his grace, makes available for his people that is the subject of which I write.
On October 9 of this year. We had the opportunity to invite Ron Sandison, a pastor with autism to to two churches in the Grand Rapids area.
Here’s some biographical information on Ron:
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of the Art of Autism and the Els Center of Excellence. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice, Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House and Views from the Spectrum. He has memorized over 15,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament. Sandison speaks at over 70 events a year including 20 plus education conferences. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with daughter, Makayla. His website. Team Jabez and I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Ron at the 2022 Key Ministry Conference for disability ministries we had attended in Cleveland this past April.
Ron’s testimony is spiritually informative, lively and easily accessible to everyone who hears it.
Ron, myself and Pastor John Russell of Byron Center Baptist Church began discussing ways of having Ron visit Grand Rapids sometime in the near future and making a presentation at out respective churches.
Ron spoke at Byron Center Baptist Church at its morning service. At the evening service at LaGrave Ave CRC, Ron gave his testimony.
As a part of the service Sarah Stanford, a member of Team Jabez sang “Jesus, Who Saves Us By His Blood ,” a hymn by John Newton based on the Prayer of Jabez. The hymn fit perfectly with the sermon I gave on. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, the story of Jabez, entitled: “Enlarging Our Borders”, based on the story of Jabez as a model for a proactive ministry with and by persons with disabilities.
The services were a wonderful example and testimony to the building up of the Kingdom of God from a population most wouldn’t think to look.
As Joni Erickson-Tada says: “A disability ministry isn’t a disability ministry until the disabled are ministering.”
Submitted by Rev. Peter J. Gordon, Pastor and Director, Jabez Ministries
Diaconal Ministry Report