Once upon a time, I had no idea about people with disabilities, only that they existed in the cracks of life, and that I didn't want to stare at them too long because it would be rude. I had no idea about the power of the love of God, and how His love compels people to do remarkable, world-changing things.
And then I knew. The two collided, and I knew everything I had ever wondered about my purpose and vision for my life and for our world. And, yet I still know nothing. I have no idea what im doing, but im doing it for Him and I think that's all that matters.
Three years ago, I went to Younglife camp for the first time. I was already a Younglife leader, and was excited about being a part of such a dynamic, authentic ministry. I was stoked about meeting high school kids in the midst of their craziness, and providing them with the opportunity to have fullness of life by sharing life with them and telling them how much God loves them and wants a relationship with them.
My Younglife girl, Katie and I hiked up the side of a mountain carrying a rope and a tether that would enable us to fly over the lake on the longest zipline in the country. We raced up the mountain, gasping for breath, excited to step off the edge of a rock and fly through the air into the unknown. And then we stopped in our tracks. At the rock was a man who couldn't have been much older than I was, and a highschool aged boy who couldn't have been much younger than Katie. It was evident that the boy had down syndrome, and was terrified to go down the zipline. The line at the bottom got longer, as the man, the boy's leader, encouraged and prayed for the boy with more passion than I had ever encountered in my 20 year old life. I have no recollection of what was said or how much time passed(at least an hour) and there are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe what took place in my heart on top of that mountain that day, but it changed everything.
When a person has an encounter with the divine, it is a blessing and a curse. The blessing lies in the experience itself, witnessing such a beautiful, God-ordained moment. The curse, though, is an incredible burden wrapped up in a question: now that I have seen this, what do I do?
I didn't know how to answer that question, but I came home and changed my college major to Special Education. My best friend and I met with people and went to trainings and wrote prayer letters, and did everything in our power to start Younglife's ministry for high school kids with disabilities in our area. And nothing happened. We got wrapped up in life, and ministry, oh, and I married my soulmate somewhere along the line, and three years passed and there I was with a wonderful life and marriage and almost finished with my Special Education degree but still wondering what God wanted from my life. And all I could think about was how much I want to use my life to love people with disabilities, people who are often only considered in the cracks of life, but who have immeasurable worth and deserve fullness of life and the love of God in the same way that everyone else does, maybe more.
And that brings us to today. Two days away from having our first Younglife Capernaum Club (ours is called The Roof). I have tears in my eyes as I write that. This is my heart, to spend my life loving, serving, and celebrating life with high school kids with disabilities through the ministry of Younglife. I've gotten to know so many wonderful kids in the last few years through teaching, and my heart is exploding with joy and anxiety and appreciation and hope as God moves through this new adventure.
(Kevin, who eventually went down the zipline/ changed my life)
If you'd like to help us "Raise the Roof" (haha), you can pray for:
-Leaders with serving hearts
-Highschool kids that want to hang out with and love their peers with disabilities
-Kids with disabilities to come and have the time of their lives!
-Parents of kids with disabilities to come alongside us, want their kids involved, experience God's love through their kids' involvement in Capernaum
-Funds to pay for The Roof club details (food, prizes, etc.) and for scholarships for kids to go to camp
-And that our ministry would open the floodgates for all people, especially Christians, to recognize the value and worth in people with disabilities