Special needs and the elephant in the room

By July 14, 2016

USA (MNN) – Sometimes we just need to address the big, obnoxious elephant that’s standing quietly, yet in the center of the room.

(Photo courtesy of The King's Table Ministries)

(Photo courtesy of The King’s Table Ministries)

Today, that elephant is the fear and discomfort many face during interactions with special needs individuals. So, who is a special needs individual?

Well, a special needs individual is someone who may be cognitively and/or physically impaired, but it is mainly defined by a person’s developmental and the intellectual impairments.

The King’s Table Ministries, a Christian non-profit, for years has been serving special needs people, their families, and many others, such as caregivers, who are regularly in their lives. But the ministry is also connecting these people and their families to the message of the Gospel. Sally Gallagher, with the King’s Table Ministries, has a few words of wisdom to share.

The Elephant and Special Needs

I think that people are basically fearful of anything, more when there’s an unknown. So I think that the unknown with a person with a disability is really where the fear stems from. They don’t know how to talk to them,” Gallagher explains.

“They don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to do. They think there’s something special that you have to do. They don’t know if they’ll understand them if they talk to them. So, it’s a combination, but I think the fear basically comes from being with them and not understanding their personhood is like anybody else’s personhood, even though they have a cognitive impairment.”

It’s an interesting concept, especially since people generally have relationships and usually pleasant interactions with animals, such as pets, on a fairly regular basis. Yet, there’s an unknown there too. And with people who are disable, there is enough fear and innocent ignorance to influence how the disabled population is often treated as a whole.

So how can this change? How can this fear, innocent ignorance, and discomfort become a thing of the past.

Well, the best way of doing that is being able to become a part of their life. When you become a part of their life and really get to know them, because each person is different as they are a person, then you’ll know how they respond, how they react, what they’re understanding,” says Gallagher.

(Photo courtesy King's Table Ministries)

(Photo courtesy King’s Table Ministries)

Gallagher knows first-hand this works because for one, she grew up as a sibling or a disabled sister, and two, she is also the mother of a disabled daughter.

“My sister’s non-verbal, and I usually know what she wants. I talk to her, we do a lot of different things together. But I wouldn’t know that if I was a person who didn’t know her. If I didn’t just, you know, come in and sit with her and do things with her,” Gallagher shares.

A Response

A great way to get to know individuals with disabilities, their families, and to learn more about them is by volunteering with the King’s Table Ministries. At the King’s Table Ministries, there are a myriad of ways people can donate their time to working with special needs peoples and their families.

For example, there’s always extra hands needed during the holidays as the King’s Table Ministries prepares for different events. Or, there are regular year-round programs through the King’s Table Ministries, such as the dance team, that needs volunteers here and there.

Regardless of which way you get involved, volunteering with the King’s Table Ministries is a way to serve God and to answer His call to serve “the least of these.” For whatever we do to others, we do to Christ.

So why not show others the unconditional love, mercy, and grace Christ shown us to those who maybe can’t move or speak on their own. But they still have hearts that need to hear the Gospel.

In fact, the very unique aspect about the King’s Table Ministries is that it’s not only trying to fill a great need for families, but that it’s also sharing the Gospel with these same people who society often gets weirded out by.

Can’t Volunteer, No Worries

But, if there isn’t time to volunteer in the midst of a busy schedule, there’s always the option to financially support the King’s Table Ministries in a couple of ways. For one, there is the option to donate to the King’s Table Ministries, either as a onetime gift or a monthly gift, right on their site.

To donate, click here!

However, this October, the King’s Table Ministries is hosting a fundraising dinner at Cornerstone University. Tickets can be bought for individual seats or entire tables (seating 6) may be purchased as well.

To learn more about this fall’s fundraising dinner, contact the King’s Table Ministries at [email protected] or call 616-648-4301.

But for now, please pray for God’s provision both for volunteers and financially for the King’s Table Ministries. Pray for the families and individuals with specials needs to hear the Gospel and to have changed lives and hearts because of it. And finally, pray for peoples’ eyes to be opened to the needs disabled individuals have and the love they need to be shown.

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