Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ralph and church.

Gathering with our church family on Sunday morning sets the stage for the week. Without it, I feel a bit disoriented and off kilter. It builds me up, too. So we make it a priority for the whole family.

Over the past four or five years, several children with additional needs have either been identified, started attending, or have been born into this church family. As a result, a Friendship program has been initiated to assist children who need individual assistance to participate in Sunday school classes. There is also a Friendship classroom which is self contained.

Ralphie has been included in the nursery setting since he was very little. He used to push his little oxygen tank around in a toy shopping cart! I've just been so very pleased with the way he has been received and loved. We have pushed through fear, at times, and made things work.

Now that Ralph is four, he is too old for the nursery. I had a little anxiety attack earlier this fall when I realized that he would be sitting through services now. He was just not ready for that.

Thanks to the Friendship program, Ralph has several volunteer helpers for Sunday school. One has worked with him for over a year and is actually a sign language interpreter. It is wonderful to see them working and signing together. She can only attend two Sundays each month due to her work schedule, so Ralph has two other young women who alternate assisting him in Sunday school on the other weeks.

But what about the worship service? What was I going to do about that? Does he look like the kind of child who can sit quietly and listen to a sermon?

This is where the Friendship classroom comes into play. Our fantastic Friendship coordinator was able to find one more helper for Ralph each Sunday. This lovely young lady sits with our family in the back row of the worship service during the announcements and the worship songs. I get to hold Ralph in my arms while I sing praises. I get to encourage him to sit quietly and patiently. When the sermon begins, he and his helper slip out the back door and head for the friendship room to play until it is time to go to Sunday school.

Isn't that great? It works so perfectly! I really feel spoiled by all the love and care given to me and my family at church gatherings. I'm so grateful for the ladies who give up their time and energy to work with my children.

Next time, Zhen and Theo!


Carissa said...

Our church in San Antonio had a program like this. I was so glad to finally have a place in the church where I felt I could use the gifts God had given me. My buddy was a 12 yr old girl with CP and she was amazing :) I wish more churches had this, what blessings these children are!

Stephanie @ Ralphcrew said...

Carissa, more of us need to be using our gifts this way. You are awesome!

The child gets needed attention. The teacher has extra help in the classroom. The parents get a chance to care for their own spiritual needs. The helpers are blessed by the opportunity to use their gifts and by gratitude of the other three parties. It's a win-win situation.