Special Needs at Maple Grove
I was very young when I learned that God does not make us all alike, but he loves us as we are. As a Japanese teacher friend once noticed, people in the US are like a “flower garden” with many shapes of faces, eyes, noses, bodies, many colors of hair, eyes, skin, many differences that are so beautiful. They are not all alike, because they come from so many countries, cultures, places. God makes us different in our appearances and abilities, meaning that each of us is unique!
Maple Grove early on accepted some very unique persons as part of their own and wanted to have them feel included by giving them jobs to do. I remember Dale Shenberger picking up offerings, and one time when he was not re-elected, he asked Rev. Sheets what he could do to serve God and was told that the hinges on the doors need oiled and what a good job he did at that – to the point that they probably couldn’t have squeaked if they wanted to do so. Sometimes they needed to be polished to keep the excess oil off our clothing. But he was faithful in his job and must have impressed everyone so much that he got his job taking offerings back again in the next election. We loved him.
When Ivan Fausnight was our pastor he helped set up a workshop at Agape Acres that used special needs persons to fill jobs for which they were trained. This became the forerunner of Dale-Roy Workshop. When his wife Norma ran Goodwill, she used some workers there also. One of these people was Chuckie who was in the youth group. He was always the right size for them (as he was not very big) and he was always enjoyed by them. He was a "forever" youth while at Maple Grove.
Recently the child who was assigned to be the acolyte on Sunday morning was not there, so it was decided that Logan could do it with the help of his grandma and another church lady, one on each side of him. He was so happy, covered in smiles, walking up the aisle. After lighting the candles on the altar and turning to walk back to his seat, the congregation applauded him. Now the smile was bigger than ever. He was praising God with his smile – he, too, had a job to do. He is a leading clapper when he enjoys the music. Let’s always remember – involvement for everyone. You. Your family. Everyone needs to be eager willing workers for God.
Other people in the church have worked with special needs people in their homes or at work, and we have a Special Needs Sunday School class for those who desire it.
God loves us all. We need to share our love with everyone regardless of their unique-ness-es and special-ness-es. God blesses all his children. May we do His bidding and bless others by doing so. We are all God’s special and unique children. As Todd Burpo states in the book, Heaven is for Real, Colton said Jesus asked him to tell everyone that He loves all His children! How boring life would be if we all looked and acted alike. Love one another!