Posted by: kbumgardaner | January 26, 2011

Special Needs or Special Blessing…

Awhile back, I wrote about Joseph, the autistic boy in my church that is so filled with joy and love of music that he jumps and waves his arms as we sing, showing the true joy that he feels as we sing of Christ.
Today, I would like to write about Clint. Clint is not autistic, but he was born with Down’s Syndrome…I’m sure there is a plethora of information available about Down’s Syndrome for the family who has been given this diagnosis for their child, but  what may not be immediately clear, are the blessings a Down’s Syndrome child can bring into the lives of those around them. Of course there are challenges, as there are with every child born into a family, but unfortunately the challenges of someone with “special needs” are magnified because they are immediately labeled as different.
I’ve known Clint since he was a newborn baby. His parents knew, of course, that his life would not be that of a “normal” boy and young man, and I’m certain the fear of the unknown was frightening. I heard his Mother speak recently, and she told how they were told that he may never walk. She didn’t just “accept” this diagnosis. She got out a big wheel and taught his legs how to mimic the motions of walking…running. All of her work and prayer paid off when Clint learned to walk and run. Her perseverance paid off.
As Clint grew, there were physical challenges brought on by his Downs, but he was blessed with a loving family, who loved him not despite his challenges but with his challenges.
Clint is now 26 years old. He loves brats, junk food and basketball. He is also an usher is his church, a ministry that he takes very seriously. He lives with his Mom and Dad, and I venture to guess that he has brought unspeakable joy to his family. I say this because he brings joy to people wherever he goes. I haven’t spent a lot of time with Clint in the last few years, but when I see him, he is always a blessing to me.
Clint’s greatest ministry and gift is Scripture memorization. I have heard that it takes many hours for him to learn the Scripture with the help of his family, but when he knows it-he shares it!
Recently, I sat in a crowd of approximately 850 people as Clint preached Luke 2, the Christmas story. I say preached because Clint doesn’t just recite Scripture, he truly preaches it! You could have heard a pin drop in the room of 800 plus as Clint shared his message. Many applauded while my eyes teared up. I was so proud of Clint and the obstacles that he has overcome and the lives he has blessed.
I just don’t think special needs are a good description for people like Joseph and Clint. Sure, they need help with things, but don’t we all?
How often to those of us who were born “normal” talk about our needs… a new cell phone, a new car, more respect, the list goes on. We could take a cue from these young men who have truly captured what Christmas should be about in a nutshell. They have shared their joy of Christ unselfishly and without restraint. I don’t know about anyone else, but they bring special blessings to my life, special needs have nothing to do with it.

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