USA (MNN) — All around the world people live with developmental disabilities. However, Shepherds Ministries is teaching them they can still be used by God.
Shepherds is a ministry, located in Union Grove, Wisconsin, to help people with development disabilities and provide them with residential care, work opportunities and education.
Shepherds Enterprises provides the individuals with jobs and helps them gain some independence. They also have a chance to go to Shepherds College, a three year college, to give them hope for their futures.
Not only does Shepherds help these people with work and education, but they can also be involved in one of two outreach programs.
“We want to give people with developmental disabilities an opportunity to use their spiritual gifts and reach out and minister to people in the local churches,” said Al Pick with Shepherds.
The two ministry opportunities are the Gospel Team, which travels with Pick to churches around the U.S. sharing their testimonies and the Gospel, and the Handbell Choir, which allows the members to use their musical abilities.
Pick said the Gospel team is made up of 10 different men who take turns traveling to various churches. While at a church, they give a PowerPoint presentation and show a Shepherds video. Pick then speaks during the morning service, and afterwards he has the men come up and share the plan of salvation, their testimonies and what Christ means to them.
Saul Courtney is one of these men, who has been at Shepherds for 10 years.
"I like the Gospel thing a lot," he said, conveying his love for the team he serves on. He said he quotes Luke 15:24 when he shares his testimony, “For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and has been found, and they began to celebrate.”
There are nine members of the Handbell Choir, their director and sponsor, who also travel around the U.S. When they visit a church, they give their handbell performance and then share their testimonies with the church.
Shepherds has seen these ministries impact the lives of the people they visit.
“We have had quite a few responses from churches relaying how believers have been encouraged to get involved themselves,” Pick said. “If they see people who have developmental disabilities, who are willing to use their spiritual gifts for the Lord, then that encourages them to use what God has given them.”
Pick said he himself has also learned from the men he has traveled with, “One thing I’ve learned about traveling with people with developmental disabilities is the fact that they’re unashamed of the Gospel, the simplicity and the profoundness of their faith.”
Please pray for safety for these teams as they travel across the U.S. spreading God’s love. Pray that their audiences will be open to the Gospel and will reach out to touch the lives of people with disabilities.
Also, every summer various high school youth groups visit Shepherds each week, and 20 college students work at Shepherds. If you would like more information about becoming involved with Shepherds as a college student or with a youth group, go to their Web site.