This past Thursday began another season of what is unquestionably the greatest ministry I have been blessed to be a part of. Spirit Matters is a ministry that provides social and fellowship opportunities to special needs adults. There are a multitude of great programs for special needs youth, but these opportunities largely evaporate as these folks grow into their adult years, which is what makes this ministry so unique and so important.
The genesis of this ministry came from the plea of a faithful father seeking something for his adult, special needs son to do as an activity. It was born of the tireless faith of an amazing woman, our youth and family minister, who upon not finding a program geared for this man’s son, went and started one. It has been said there were 12 attendees at the first meeting, a bit prophetic I know but that’s the story and I am sticking with it. Since then it has grown to serve over 150+ clients every week between October and May.
There is nothing fancy about what we do, it is a simple thing done well. Essentially, we throw a party every week. Each Thursday begins in the sanctuary with praise and worship songs and prayer requests. We then adjourn to the fellowship hall for an activity. Perhaps a craft, or an entertainer or a dance or most popularly, karaoke or bingo. At a fundamental level what we are doing is inviting people to a party that are too often not invited anywhere at all. It is really about giving them something to look forward to and as Christians we should all recognize the power of having something to look forward to.
Like all great ministry those who serve in it receive much more than they could ever give to it. Every week we meet an amazing group of people. They absolutely love to re-connect with old friends, make new friends and have a riotous time doing it. They hold themselves out to the world for who and what they are and accept others for who and what they are, without hesitation, or condition. They do so because they are not wired to generate the pretentious bullshit with which the rest of us surround ourselves daily. They stand as an incredible example of how God wants us to treat one another and how to live a fully human life.
In addition to all of that I am so blessed to be a part of a team of some of the most incredible people who have ever raised their hand to volunteer. While our original leader has retired our current fearless leader is one we would follow to the gates of hell because if we did we know she would break that gate down and kick Satan’s ass. Which is in fact what she is leading us to do one week of Spirit Matters at a time. The darkness, hate and death is pushed back one act of uplift at a time, one act of inclusion at a time and one act of service at a time.
I am going to be even bolder than this and state that this is the most important and impactful ministry that our congregation allows us to perform. This is not to denigrate ANY other ministry. We have a large congregation and have a variety of ministry there. We are blessed with an incredible children’s ministry, we have an onsite food pantry, whose reach is ever growing. We support a Habitat for Humanity build; we have a dynamic men’s group that focuses on hunger issues. We feed over 400 families every Thanksgiving. Additionally, we have a variety of prayer, educational and fellowship ministries. All that being said I am standing by my statement that Spirit Matters is the most important. You see, I can conceive of a world where we don’t need food pantries, or Habitat builds or other material support ministries. I can conceive of a world of rising real incomes, and equitable distribution of wealth, free movement of goods, services, ideas and people. In short, a world of peace and freedom. Now I know such a world is not soon in the offing, but I can conceive of it. Even if such a world sprang into existence today, people with special needs would still need help. There is simply no way for them to sojourn across this vale of tears without assistance. That is why they go to the head of the line, that’s just the deal.
Now in arguing so passionately on behalf of this ministry I admit that I am exposing a bias. It is, however, a bias born of love for the people I serve and serve with and the amazing things they have allowed me to be a small part of. It really does not matter what specific ministry you are called to serve, just go and serve. Fight God’s fight for peace and love one small, simple thing done well at a time. Do it for others, do it for God, do it for yourselves. Most of all do it because Spirit Matters.
Praise Be to God