In 2007, I walked across the stage at my seminary graduation. I was pregnant at the time and whispered to my sweet baby James, “This chapel is filled with professors, authors, preachers, teachers, and missionaries. These are the world changers, baby, and you’re going to be one too.”
When we got his autism diagnosis, my dreams for him changed. Could he still be a world changer?
Years later my husband stood at a booth for our church at our community’s autism walk. Over 2,000 people walked by the booth and saw our church’s name. Some stopped and asked why a church would be at the walk. We were there to share the good news of God’s love and tell the families our church is a safe place for them and their special needs children.
One of the families who stopped at our booth that day has started visiting our church. My husband talked to the mom and she said, “We had decided we wanted to start taking the kids to church but were nervous. When you said your church had a special needs ministry we were interested. But when you said you have a son with autism and that your church loves him, we knew it could be the church home for us.”
Our church wouldn’t have a special needs ministry if it weren’t for James. He was the catalyst for the ministry to start. We wouldn’t host respite nights, have a special needs Vacation Bible School class, or have buddies for special needs kids in Sunday school and the service.
My husband and I didn’t start the ministry, but James did. Church members saw there was a need and met the need. It started with James, but it hasn’t ended with him. Families are being reached through the ministry. They are hearing the gospel. They are experiencing God’s love. And ultimately, their worlds are changing.
When you feel like the dreams you had for your child are dying, trust that God isn’t giving up. His Plan A will still happen. Your child will still have an impact on the world because God will use him or her for His purposes.
Sandra Peoples is a pastor’s wife and mom to two boys. She’s the author of Held: Learning to Live in God’s Grip (a Bible study for special-needs parents) and the upcoming new release, Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family.