All too often, families living with disability struggle to build friendships at church and don’t feel like they can get involved in worship. Many families give up on going to church altogether because of the daunting challenges they face both at church and at home. That’s why our teams at Joni and Friends are dedicated to teaching churches what a thriving disability ministry can look like. Because people of all abilities need a church where they can fully belong.
Joni and Friends comes alongside the church to identify and remove barriers impacting families living with disabilities.
“Joni and Friends calmed my anxious nerves about starting a new disability ministry,” says Lauren from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hickory, North Carolina.
The Start of a Disability Ministry
It all started through a casual conversation with a friend at Lauren’s school.
“I found out that they had not been able to attend church together as a family for several years because of the challenges of living with disability at home,” says Lauren.
She began to see other areas of need in her church as well. Families living with disability struggled to build friendships and involve their entire families in worship.
After speaking with the pastors of the church about the possibility of beginning a disability ministry, Lauren received an enthusiastic “yes” and was given the resources to get started.
Immediately, Lauren was faced with daunting questions that threatened to stall this new initiative. Where do I start? Who do I ask? What resources are available? What does a thriving disability ministry even look like?
Equipping the Church
Searching for guidance, Lauren connected with the team at Joni and Friends North Carolina. Lauren met with Joni and Friends staff, who offered her support and training resources, and invited her to a local church network meeting comprised of other local disability ministry leaders. Through these connections God provided exactly what Lauren and her church needed.
“Thank you for providing such wonderful resources to churches like ours! You’ve provided us with such invaluable insights. We’ve learned the importance of caring for the whole family. Moreover, we’ve gained a deeper understanding of the significance of creating an accessible church environment ensuring that everyone can fully participate in worship and church activities!
Time and time again, God has proven his faithfulness by providing for our ministry’s needs in miraculous ways. The Lord used Joni and Friends to bless us with an accessible vehicle, enabling us to extend our ministry to friends in wheelchairs! It is truly a testament to God’s goodness and provision!”
Blessing the Community
Today the disability ministry at Tabernacle Baptist Church acts as a pillar of support for local families in Hickory North Carolina. One attendee, Parker, is 22 years old and has Mowat-Wilson syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. He and his family are able to attend church because of training provided by Joni and Friends.
“I know that Parker is well cared for, loved, and is being fed from the Word now, too,” says his mother.
Your prayers and faithfulness bring families like Parker’s into the house of God. Help make it possible for Joni and Friends to reach more people living with disability, at home and around the world!