Christianity · Church · Religious

Making an Impact

I remember quite a bit about being in second grade. One of my very strong memories includes a boy with severe mental handicaps. I’m not sure that I realized that at the time, only that he was different. There were times when he was still in the classroom, and times where he was taken to another class by another teacher. We were also neighbors, but I wasn’t allowed at his home due to issues with his parents.

My predominant memory of him in that second grade class room, though, was when a group of us were playing at our desks with toy dinosaurs. Our desks were arranged in groups and he sat next to me. When we weren’t looking, he took the dinosaurs and put them in his desk as far from me as possible to ensure that I couldn’t reach them. I remember him giggling and thinking that it was hilarious. There had come a point where he stayed the entire day with the special education teachers and no longer joined the rest of our peers in various classes. To be honest, I’m not sure that I had much contact with him after second grade. At least, not until high school.

My sophomore year of high school came after a very turbulent freshman year. I was also beginning to separate from my best friend due to very different desires and very different choices in friends. I would still eat breakfast with her and her friends in the morning. I started noticing the boy from that second grade classroom. He sat by himself and slowly ate his breakfast. It broke my heart that he was alone.

He was very overweight and was often teased about is disability or weight. It was during that sophomore year of school that I realized that he wasn’t just mentally handicapped. He was person. He did have a mental handicap, but he also felt happiness, sadness, and loneliness. He still had a desire to belong and to have friends. Several days I would spend some time with him at breakfast. We didn’t have much of a verbal relationship. He would say hi. I would ask how he was or how his sister was. He would say fine or good. Mostly, we just sat together while he ate. When it was time for class, I would give him a high five or hug.

Every time I saw him in the hall, I gave him a hug or high five. I didn’t see him much the next few years, but when I did, he still expected a hug or high five. He lit up when we saw each other. After graduation, we saw each other every once in a while, but it has been several years since I’ve seen him. I often think about him. Even though we never had a lasting friendship, he was someone that made a huge impact on my life, and I didn’t realize it until recently.

I work with various missionaries that are based in the United States. Some of those missionaries focus on those with disabilities of all types, physical and mental. Personally knowing someone who has a mental disability has helped me in understanding the importance of disabilities ministries.

It has also helped me to realize that those with disabilities, can have such a huge impact in the body of Christ. They are so important and they have a desire to be included and used in whatever ways that they can be. Disabilities don’t hinder worship. As humans, we make hindrances to worship. A person shouting, laughing, clapping, or making another noise may seem like an annoyance. Oh, but what a joyful noise it is to our Lord! Though they may be disabled, they are still useful and needed in the Kingdom of God. Those with disabilities can make a huge and lasting impact on your life if you step out of your comfort zone to befriend them.

Have you every had someone with a disability make an impact in your life?



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