Excitement filled the air as I readied my three boys for church on Saturday. The service was scheduled at noon so we were able to plan and prepare all morning. It was the usual routine of questions, lost shoes, and rushing about, except this time there was something missing. The usual pleading, praying, even begging God to help my children be good in church was gone. Also missing was the burden of worry around what people would think of their sudden movements or outburst. We were on our way to a special needs service, just for kids like mine. Acceptance is so liberating! Worry had been replaced by joy just as the Scriptures promise.
Our family has a plethora of diagnoses. All three of my boys have sensory issues. Two have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the eldest has high-functioning autism. We made our way into the sanctuary, which was decorated with a safari theme. The lights were not too bright and the music was just right as puppets came out and sang two upbeat praise songs.
As the kids began to sing and participate, noises that only special needs parents are familiar with began to fill the temple, high-pitched squeals and low grunts. Our children were worshiping God in their own way. My eyes teared up.
One of our local pastors kept everyone’s attention and had my son with autism in stitches.
Some people say our kids don’t understand or comprehend humor, the giggles and laughs I heard on Saturday say otherwise. I found myself tearing up again as I watched our differently-abled kids participate in the various illusions. It didn’t matter how long it took them to walk to the front or if everyone understood them. This was followed by another worship song, a quick 10-minute sermon and that was it. Church was over before my son with ADHD was able to loudly proclaim that he was bored. We wrapped up the day with some fun activities.
I am so thankful for this opportunity and I pray that God blesses Sis. Angela Arrand and the More Life Tabernacle in Swartz Creek, MI. May this type of service become more common among our churches!
Glory to God! “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory” (Ephesians 3:20-21, KJV).
Written by: Angela Marquez. She and her husband, Alex, are veteran missionaries who currently pastor Unidos en Cristo in Lake Orion, Michigan. They have three boys, ages 3, 6, and 15. Angela enjoys spending time with her boys, reading, and music.