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|Thursday, June 22, 2017|
Swimming. Boating. Horseback riding.
For most kids, that's standard stuff at summer camp. Not when you’re a special needs child. But the ministry of Joni and Friends is quietly rewriting the book on all this. One chapter of that story played out last week in Michigan at a gathering exclusively for people like Michelle and their caregivers.
She has Down syndrome and lives with my friend Dan and his wife, Joan. Michelle was one of about sixty-five “kids” (many of adult age) who attended, along with their caregivers. And everybody—everybody—was treated lovingly.
“The whole point is to let the kids experience normal life, while parents enjoy a week without stares from strangers,” Dan commented. Caregivers were treated to spiritual encouragement in an in depth look at Psalm 123.
A girl with Down syndrome steering a motorboat? It happened for Michelle—and Dan has the video to prove it. The grin on her face is precious.
Dan told me about talent show night. From crooners to comedians, it was all there, all performed by special needs kids who soaked up the moment—and the applause.
Imagine living your whole life in a wheelchair, wondering what it would be like to—just once—ride a horse. It happened here, thanks to Joni and Friends.
Through the assistance of a special ramp, a mobility impaired child was sat on a horse with a caregiver sitting behind wrapping their arms around the child. Additionally, one caregiver walked on either side.
Of all the lovely snapshots Dan shared with me, this is the one that makes the lump that makes it hard for me to swallow. Or not cry.
Isn’t this the perfect visual metaphor for the lavish care that Jesus would have us show toward one another? Someone wrapping their arms around someone else with needs--two on either side walking the trail together—it’s beyond beautiful.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." --John 13:35
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