Friday, August 8, 2014

The Saints Among Us

A guest post by Susan Greene

A few years ago at a Young Life banquet a friend of mine was telling why his family has supported Young Life for so long. He is a well-known and respected member of our community, and he is a Capernaum parent. In a moment of brutal honesty and great vulnerability he said, “I never would choose to have a son that was handicapped. And I wouldn’t choose to immerse myself in that community voluntarily. But Young Life does. And I am so grateful.” He and his wife would talk about their son as handicapped (not disabled or special needs), because they liked to say that his handiness was barely capped due to his disability. 

Whether the parents of our friends are believers or not, they are true saints.  They were not given a choice in choosing the easy or hard road.  For all of us, we choose the easy road knowing that there may be bumps along the way. Yet for the saints that parent our friends in a split second, the hopes and dreams they had for their child are lost and the life they envisioned is just a memory. But in the next moment, new dreams are born and the life they will live begins!  It has been so important and necessary for me to be taught and be sensitive to our friends’ parents’ stories and journey.

·      Spend time with the Saints… and it truly is holy time.  Invite the moms and dads of your friends out for coffee/lunch and ask to hear their story.  They spend a lot of time telling others about their child’s story, but rarely theirs.
·      Everyone parents differently… especially with our friends. Inclusion learning or functional skills class; disabled/special needs/handicapped; gluten/sugar/casein/taste free…we must take the time to find out how our saints parent and do our best to be consistent.
·      Capernaum is very much like WyldLife in that we must communicate well with parents in advance. Many of them are coordinating the schedules of multiple children, so getting on their calendar early is helpful!
·      Invite parents in to see their kids being heroes! As our friends help with Club talks by acting our scripture or reading scripture, film it and let their parents see them actively participating in their faith!

The greatest gift we can offer the parent’s of our friends is a humble and teachable spirit.  I have been so heartbroken to sit across from moms and watch them cry after being asked “would you please teach me how to take care of your daughter/son?” or “how can we love him/her best when they are with us?” because they have never been asked that or people have assumed that they know.  May we be known as a mission that takes the time to ask, to listen, to learn, and to know not just our friends but know their parent as well.

Susan Greene lives in Memphis, TN and has been involved in Young Life as a Club kid, volunteer leader and now on staff for 8 years.  She loves how Capernaum provides a window to the fullness of the Kingdom of Christ here on Earth.  

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