Several years ago, I had the privilege of going to Belarus to see what the churches there were doing to reach out to children with disabilities.
One very small church had decided that once a week they would pick up some of the children from the neighborhood who had disabilities and bring them to the church.
Once there, they would play games, do some art, have lunch, and learn about Jesus.
After many months of coming to the church each week, a young girl named Ania told the pastor that she wanted to be baptized because she had accepted Christ as her savior. Ania was a sweet young girl who had experienced a stroke.
She walked very slowly and spoke haltingly which made it difficult to understand her. Ania had only one finger that she could move, which made it impossible for her to write on paper.
The pastor told her that he could not baptize her because she was disabled, and he did not think she truly understood what it meant to accept Jesus as her savior. Then Ania very slowly and haltingly explained the Gospel to him and why Jesus was her Savior. The pastor was flabbergasted!
He told her that he would baptize her but that he needed permission from her mother. So, he drove her home, and when her mother heard about Jesus and His love for her, the mom accepted Christ there in their living room.
The following Sunday both Ania and her mother were baptized. Ania has gone on to write beautiful stories by typing with her one good finger. Many of these stories have been published.
I love this story because it illustrates that even though a child may have a disability, he or she may very well be able to learn about God and His Son.
It is a mistake to assume that a disability automatically precludes a child from learning.
As Sunday school teachers, we need to embrace these children and not assume that they are unable to understand the Gospel. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Matthew 19:14.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”
It makes me smile how much Jesus loves children and how much He wants them to know about Him. It is our responsibility to help make that happen.
Children with disabilities often fall into one of several categories.
- Many children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Autism, and dyslexia are visual learners. These children learn best through what they see with their eyes rather than being told about something.
- Other children may be auditory learners who retain more from listening than reading or watching; such children need spoken instructions rather than written ones.
- Some children may be kinesthetic or tactile learners who learn best with hands-on projects that they can touch and feel; because these children learn best by doing, it may be difficult for them to sit still.
God has made each child different yet still in His image. We all realize that children who have lost their sight need a teaching approach that considers that fact.
In the same way we need to adjust our teaching method to the situation of the child. We want to help these children come to know Jesus by helping them learn God’s truths in a manner that considers the unique way God has made them.
I encourage you to reach out to the parent(s) of these children for help in determining the best way to help those children learn who God is and how much He loves them.
This weekend you can dedicate time to learning about each child and the distinct way that they learn. Then we can teach accordingly!
The truth of God’s Word may be an adjustment away and can set them free!