You Are Worthy

It’s New Year…

For some it can be the opportunity for a new start, for others it’s a place of expectation and excitement for the future. Both in their spiritual lives and in the rest of their lives. Maybe there are resolutions to eat more healthily, have more time to themselves, kerb their use of social media…. the list could go on.

But for some it’s been a struggle to get through 2017, and 2018 isn’t looking much better! How do you resolve to eat more healthily when your children struggle to eat things that cause sensory discomfort – cooking a totally different meal for yourself is out of the question! Having time to yourself is a distant dream, And as for lessening the use of Social Media…. it’s a life line for many of us, so people saying self improvement means cutting down on it just serves to make us feel guilty.

I don’t know where you sit on the scale of things in the New Year, or how you fared in 2017, but I pray that God would hold you and give you what you need in 2018.

As someone with a lived experience of disability (as both a child and an adult), how do I see the new Year?

Well over the years, I’ve dreaded it.

One of my conditions causes difficulty with loud noise, crowds of people and the inability to decipher faces and conversation in that sort of atmosphere. I also don’t like strong smells/perfumes. So basically, I dislike almost all of those things present at Christmas and New Year parties!

But, on top of that I’ve had the well meaning Christians who have informed me that God will give me a healthier year…. (What part of degenerative disease don’t you get was the response in my head – but I was never brave enough to say it out loud!!)

So a couple of years ago I started to ask God to give me a word or two to take me into the next year.

This year, ‘Worthy’ seems to be the word. As a child with additional needs, I never felt worthy. I was the ugly duckling, never matching up to the expectations of those around me. Those at church thought I was odd and not worthy of their time (Thankfully I changed churches!)

When you have that feeling of unworthiness as a child, more often than not it follows you into adulthood.
It’s not a good place to be.

At 50 and a bit, I’m still learning that I am worthy – worthy to be listened to, worthy of friendships, but most of all, worthy enough to be called a child of God. I have to be reminded of these things with great regularity.

I pray you too would see yourself as worthy. If you are a parent that regularly has to beg for the care your child needs, remember — God sees you and your child as worthy. Worthy of love and care. HIS love and care.

Because of Jesus, God sees us as worthy of His love, and as such cries with us when we’ve had enough, and celebrates with us in the smallest of achievements our children make. We are worthy of that relationship.

As we stumble into this new year together – remember: You are worthy of God’s love.

Even on the many days where we just don’t have time to read His word or pray, we are still worthy.

On the days where we want to bite peoples heads off because of their insensitivity, we are still worthy.

I am the ‘other’ founder of the Additional Needs Alliance, alongside Mark. Our Journeys are very different – he the father of a son with additional needs, and I the child who had additional needs/disabilities and still do, and the step parent of a (now grown up) teen with severe mental health illness. Both of us ‘called’ to make a difference for children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities in the church.

Mark travels the country training and raising the profile of those who have additional needs – and doing it fabulously. I also do the same, and some bespoke training too, but most of the time I’m working alongside other national organisations, working behind the scenes to get the message out at the highest level that these children and young people are worthy too, don’t ignore them. One of those organisations I work with is the Evangelical Alliance, where I am a council member. I have been so encouraged by their response to raising this more, and the practical plans they are putting together. Pray for us as we work together to get this message out there.

May God hold you and bless you in 2018
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FaithFull Generation – Additional Needs

 

If you know myself or Mark, you may have heard us talk about the ‘FaithFull Generation’ project. We are both involved in this and part of the Children Matter team who are responsible for it. (The spelling is deliberate!)

It’s difficult to summarise, but In short, this is about building life long resilient faith in children. It is broken down into 10 key areas that support faith formation. You can read more about it here

Last February saw the release of a book about this. (Kindle version here)

But what does all this mean to children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities?

Well, myself and Mark are hoping to oversee/write a companion book that looks at what ‘FaithFull Generation’ would mean for a child or young person with additional needs or disabilities.

This will not be a ‘how to welcome children with additional needs’ book, but one that takes a serious look at lifelong, resilient faith formation in children who have additional needs and disabilities. We hope, it will show churches and organisations how they can support families better in this, and encourage the families themselves.

If you are the parent of children with additional needs, or *support children in a Christian faith based setting – we need your help!

We need short stories of faith about your children or the children you care for. It could be now, or a historical story of a child who is now an adult.

*If you are not the parent, we will need parental permission to use stories

Please take a look at the FaithFull Generation website. It shows the 5 areas, with each area split into two.

Could you tell us stories of how you have seen these areas working out in your child’s life? For example, in one area we talk about compassion and serving – is there a story of how your child has served in the church/community/overseas and how it has impacted or helped them ground their faith? Or in the mentoring section, have they benefited from the wisdom and support of others, especially cross-generational mentoring?

Any stories we use will have names changed so we can protect privacy. If they are not used in the book, we would love to use them on this website or on a new ANA Facebook page that will look specifically at faith formation – if you want to be a part of that discussion, you can find that page here

Please use the ANA email address (additionalneedsalliance@gmail.com) to send us your stories.

Many thanks

Kay and Mark

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A Vision For Inclusion

Paul, writing to the Galatian church said:
…and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Galatians 4:14

Even though I read the Bible, I must admit I only spotted this a couple of weeks ago, but it had quite an impact.
It sums up a lot of what we want for those who have additional needs and disabilities – to be welcomed as though they were Jesus Himself.

In the Gospels, at the end of the parable of the sheep and goats Jesus says:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25:40
That speaks for itself really. These are just two Bible passages that show there is a Biblical imperative to care and to include.

I must admit that I don’t like to refer to those who have additional needs and disabilities as ‘the least’, but I do know what Jesus meant with that phrase – the ones who are looked down on, are not included, the poor, the vulnerable – the list could go on.

I’ve been fighting for best practice in inclusion since I was fourteen. I’ve been training churches on the subject for twenty-five years. And what the Additional Needs Alliance has achieved over the lasts few years has been a dream of mine for over thirty years. But I was just one person, without a large organisation or an infrastructure behind me.
Then few years ago I met Mark Arnold from Urban Saints – a man also passionate about change in the area of additional needs and disability. He was in the process of setting up ‘All Inclusive’. It was at this point my vision and passion for inclusion began to be realised. As a team – our joint vision blossomed and grew faster than either of us could have imagined.

Our very first forum, in a cold Eastbourne in February 2013 was a huge success, and we have never looked back. It was at that forum we launched the Facebook group . The group now has over 860 members and is growing daily
As the group grows, we feel the need to grow with it, so we have added new admins (Thanks Lynn and Beth), the dropbox link to resources, and via Urban Saints we now have ‘All Inclusive:2U’. Plus, we have this new venture – A website!

We are encouraged daily in the way the vision and passion for inclusion and more importantly, belonging has spread – there are now many more small pockets of excellence all over the country, a lot have been inspired and encouraged to do this by members of the Facebook group.

In a sense my initial vision from over 30 years ago has been realised in what has happened with the Additional needs Alliance so far, and I am thankful to God for His guidance and wisdom – but there is still so much to do!
Please join us in making sure all those with additional needs and disabilities, and their families, are welcomed as though they were Jesus Himself.

Posted by Kay Morgan-Gurr 24.01.17

A bit about Kay:
Kay is a Children’s Evangelist and Chair of the Children Matter coalition. She serves on the Evangelical Alliance Council, is an associate of Churches for All, and part of the Home for Good Council of reference.
Kay used to be a children’s nurse, specialising in the area of additional needs and disability. She is married to Steve & step mum to two wonderful grown up boys. She is a wheelchair user, but became disabled many years after starting to fight for those who have additional needs and disabilities. She says she “fights for others, not herself’.

 

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