It seems God does, in fact, work in mysterious ways. As I think about my journey into Inclusion Ministry I am struck by the incredible people who spoke life into me along the way.
As I mentioned in my previous post I had a life changing experience in my teen years that crushed my heart for those affected by disability. That experience spurred an invitation for me to serve other kids with disabilities. Through these life experiences I felt God very clearly calling me into inclusion ministry. But where would I begin?
I started my journey into ministry by going to Bible College. It seemed a natural decision for me. That chapter of my life was far more challenging than I had ever imagined it would be and I ended up believing a lie that I wasn’t meant to be a leader. (Long story for another blog on another day)
Somewhere along the way I ended up in Design school, studying to become an interior designer (essentially hiding from God, and the call he placed on my life). I landed a job in the design world and was doing well, but each night I would go home feeling like I was missing out on what God had in mind for my life. As it turns out it’s a silly thing to try to hide from God. My husband was serving on staff at Crossroads. We attended church there and I went through the motions, filling my seat for an hour each week.
That all changed when I was INVITED to serve in the Children’s Ministry. (You’ll notice a theme in my life – God moves when I respond to his invitation to engage in his mission!)
I would soon find out that they needed a leader for their Special Needs Team. Before I knew it I was blurting out “I’ll do it!” and the rest, as they say is history. I served as the Volunteer Leader for the Special Needs Team for several years, building weekend ministry teams and launching a respite outreach.
I considered myself a “tent-maker” laboring during the day in the design world, while at night I would be glued to my laptop working on ministry materials, or parked at Panera building relationships with my team. (Because after all – everyone knows that all ministry takes place at either Panera or Starbucks!)
I was growing restless from my life as a bi-vocational pastor and longed to have a full time focus on my passion.
God moved and I was invited to come on staff at Vineyard Cincinnati on their Outreach Team. I served in that role for just over four years and was able to carve out and grow an inclusion ministry as well. I had the honor of building an incredible team of friends on a mission to love the city of Cincinnati into relationship with Jesus. They are known as Team BIG and from this incredible cast of characters I learned volumes about what it means to have a servant’s heart. We linked arms and challenged ourselves to create new and exciting ways to love people with disabilities. Together we hosted Proms, Luaus, Breathe Respites, and a host of other amazing outreach events. I will forever treasure the time I spent serving with this crew.
(to view a video recap of the Prom visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj9JuAHYaig or go to youtube.com and search “Vineyard Prom”)
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of speaking at a number of national conferences and church trainings and I am excited to see God moving in mighty ways to engage the local church to include all people in the Body of Christ.
In my new role at Key Ministry I have been tasked with advancing our mission to help churches serve families affected by disability. I find myself speechless when I think about the profound and sometimes subtle ways that God has moved to bring me to this place in ministry. As you can see – inclusion is deeply personal for me and I long to see the Body of Christ more accurately reflect the heart of God. I would love to have you join me in this new adventure. To find out how to connect with Key Ministry check out our website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on facebook. We offer FREE training and resources and would LOVE to come along side your church!
Here’s to changing the world….