The Elisha Foundation
I will be heading off to Oregon this week to preach at the annual Spring Retreat of The Elisha Foundation. TEF "was founded to provide refreshment and encouragement to families caring for the disabled" by Justin Reimer.
This is a wonderful concept and a needful one.
Because of my son's disability, I have often been asked by other pastors what the church can do to help families in our situation. My answer is always the same. Talk and Relieve.
Talk: For some reason, we often feel shy about addressing the special needs associated with disabled folks. It is another world that makes most of us terribly uncomfortable. That means these familes often feel as if they live in a closet - a cramped and stuffy world that everyone happily ignores. Thus, one of the most helpful ministries a church can have in a family's life is to ask questions. What is day to day living like? What is the most difficult aspect of caring for this person? Are there ways our church could make corporate worship an easier experience? What are you scared of? Do you ever feel overwhelmed?
Simple questions like this can open the door of the closet... and especially as ministers of the Gospel we ought not be afraid to look in there.
Relieve: It seems to me that one of the greatest burdens on any family caring for a disabled child is the constancy of the presenting problems. In our case, my son's disability presents in ways that, for the most part, are easy to live with. But for others, the constant care, attention, explaining, guarding, stopping, starting, cleaning, and the rest can wear the caregiver down.
Churches are in the unique position to help in great ways! They can organize a small group of volunteers to provide an evening out once a week for the couple - Oh, what a ministry that would be! They could come and clean the house, sit with the special needs person in church, etc. The list is endless and the best way of filling it out would be to do point one- talk!
Anyway, for my part, I cannot wait to be with these folks and minister God's Word!