USA (MNN) — Shepherd's
Ministries believes developmentally disabled people have a role to play in the
Great Commission. That's why Director of
spiritual life Paul Von Tobel recently took four guys to the Students Equipped
to Minister to Peers (SEMP) conference at Moody Bible Institute in
"At Shepherds, we really believe
that people with developmental disabilities are created for a purpose, and so
we want them to live on purpose. There's no greater purpose than the Great
Commission," Von Tobel explained.
From July 6-11, the group
attended personal evangelism classes in the mornings and spent the afternoons
witnessing on the streets of Chicago. They
learned to open conversations by asking questions and to be up
front about why they were there and what they were doing.
This training helped the guys
from Shepherd's to be effective, as did the testimonies they had written out
before they came to Chicago. God also
used them effectively as they were taught to incorporate prayer into their
"Before we ended a conversation
with anybody, we asked them if we could pray for them," Von Tobel explained. "The guys are true prayer warriors,
and so that was a great opportunity for them to minister."
They went out to witness in a
group with other conference attendees, called a "pod group." Within the group, each person went out to
witness with a partner.
"What really made it work was
that each guy was paired up with a witnessing partner," Von Tobel explained. "That witnessing partner really was able to
help with the conversation, making it natural. It was great to see the teamwork and the dynamics with the youth that the guys were paired up with."
One day, the group was traveling back
and forth on the L's brown line, witnessing to people in different cars. One of the guys from Shepherd's, Sean
Burdett, and his partner, Stephanie, got into a conversation with a girl in one
The girl "grew up in the church,
but had a lot of questions for her youth pastor, and she didn't feel like her
questions were satisfactorily answered," Von Tobel explained. "So she walked away from the church and
really walked away from the faith. And
they found out that she's really searching for the truth and doesn't really
know what she believes."
Sean took the opportunity to
share his testimony with the girl.
"After Sean got done, the girl
said that she really appreciated his attitude, his positive attitude, and how it
was just huge encouragement to her," Von Tobel related.
Sean was thankful for the
opportunity to share his faith.
"The greatest thing is the Great
Commission–to go and share the Gospel," said Sean. "The Bible says that we are to make
disciples of all nations. We should make disciples in our communities and in our
workplaces. And I'm really thankful that I have the privilege to go on this
Shepherd's Ministries is
committed to helping people like Sean reach their God-given potential, and that
includes utilizing their abilities to share the Gospel.
"I think that God has
specifically created those with developmental disabilities to reach others with
disabilities," Von Tobel said. "They're
the best ones to reach their peers, their friends, their coworkers, or the people that they're around
at Special Olympics. That is their purpose; God has given
them that purpose. And we need to be equipping them, raising them up, and
giving them the opportunity to share Christ."
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