USA (MNN) — The story behind a West Michigan cake purchase took the Internet by storm in recent days.
Lisa Sarber Aldrich of Caledonia, Michigan, posted on her Facebook page the picture of a birthday cake with a greeting written by a worker with autism. She also added the story of her encounter–and the worldwide Web went wild.
“[Aldrich] gave that young lady an opportunity to serve her,” explains Sally Gallagher with The King’s Table Ministries. “Instead of, you know, they always have to have help with this and help with that…. It gave her [the disabled woman] the ability to give back by being able to write on the cake.”
Non-disabled people have grown accustomed to “giving back,” but it’s rare for those in the disabled community because they’re usually the ones receiving help, adds Gallagher.
The Michigan cake story underscores an oft-overlooked need among the disabled: dignity.
“People that have never been around a person with disabilities [are] not expecting them to do something like that–be able to write on a cake,” Gallagher says.
However, special needs individuals are also shaped in the image of God. They are unique vessels that He can and does use for His glory. The talents of disabled people are often overlooked because they might not look like the skills of everyone else.
“Some of them…bag groceries, and that type of thing. They’re very capable of stocking shelves…making sure they’re all in the right order, with the right labels.”
When the gifts of special needs people are recognized by employers or authority figures, that simple acknowledgement often brings hope.
“They’re capable of working daycare [settings]. My daughter loves children and she can read. So, she reads to little kids, and they love it,” Gallagher shares.
“[It] gives her a reason to get up in the morning, when she’s working with children. And that’s something we all have to have: a reason to get up in the morning.”
The King’s Table Ministries connects the Body of Christ with the special needs community, creating empowerment and outreach opportunities.
“We try to…bring the special needs people into the local church, with their gifts, to be able to serve there,” Gallagher explains. “We have a dance team…and they are incredible.
“It’s a very unique way to worship when you watch them, [and] it’s a gift to be able to help people enter into worship.”
In other instances, special needs individuals can pick up on simple truths from the Bible or a sermon in a way “that can only come from God.” From the mouths of babes, God makes His Truth known.
“In the Church Body, [there are] things that they are well-gifted in, just like the rest of the believers,” says Gallagher.
Churches in West Michigan have easy, local access to Gallagher and King’s Table Ministries. However, modern technology makes training accessible to English-speaking churches and church leaders worldwide.
Reaching Sally Gallagher by e-mail is the best way to start: [email protected]