Tag Archives: special needs

Layperson Launches, Leads Ministry for Families of Children with Disabilities

Victory Lane Camp is about building community in Jesus’ name.

By Carl Stagner

“No family should have to raise their children facing disabilities alone.” That’s the premise of Victory Lane Camp, a parachurch ministry in New Castle, Indiana, founded by Brett Fischer. Brett and his family, who have called South Memorial Drive Church of God their home church since 1999, have experienced life’s ups and downs while brothers and sisters in Christ came alongside. When Brett felt God call him to start a camp ministry that would reach the whole family of children with disabilities, the church was there to provide prayerful and financial support—support which continues to this day. Victory Lane Camp didn’t just drop out of thin air; a series of dots had to connect to bring to life one of the most life-giving parachurch ministries anywhere. Behind the life change, the baptisms, the marriages restored, and the children transformed is a God who has called and equipped Christ-centered laypeople for the task. Continue reading

A Pastor’s Amazing, Agonizing Adventure of Adopting Special Needs Children

Ralph loves Ana and each of his adopted children.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve been to many camp meetings across the country, chances are you’ve sat under the bold preaching or inspirational worship leading of pastor and evangelist Ralph Watts. The pastor emeritus of Columbus West Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, is used to sharing Bible stories and passages that point to Jesus Christ. But his own story points to Christ, too, one that is nothing short of remarkable. He and his wife Karen have fostered a total of thirty-five special needs children over the years, and have adopted fourteen. Continue reading

Missouri Church Holds VBS for Kids with Special Needs

VBS 2017 at South Side Church of God.

By Lydia Sergeant

South Side Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri, held a fantastic Vacation Bible School late in the summer. This was their second year to host a Bible school that not only included children from their own church, but also families of children with special needs. Continue reading

Creativity, Generosity, Boldness Characterize Easter Celebrations

Photo: Lord’s Supper drama at First Church, Inverness, Florida.

By Carl Stagner

As a pinnacle in the church year, some might get the feeling that it’s all downhill from Easter. But perhaps Pastor Paul Strozier of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, said it best last year in an article he wrote: “The baskets have returned to the attic, the plastic eggs are being recycled, somewhere in the house there is at least one purple Peep left unconsumed—at least until the toddler finds it…But can we really let the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ wait a whole year to be acknowledged and celebrated again? Easter never ends for the follower of Jesus Christ…Imagine how it might change our homes, our families, and our communities if we lived every day with resurrection power, hope, and joy.” For Church of God congregations across the country, Easter has only just begun! Here’s a look at how churches observed Easter week. Continue reading

Seeing What Jesus Sees: Alabama Church Hosts Prom for Special Needs Guests

Photo: Special needs guest arrives at the prom.

By Carl Stagner

“I never thought I would be helping my daughter get ready for a prom,” one parent said. This daughter is among a group of people often overlooked or forgotten. But Jesus has never overlooked or forgotten them. He sees them. He sees their need. He sees their intrinsic worth. The Church of God congregation in Falkville, Alabama—known as Fairview: The Grace Place—has put on heaven’s glasses. They’re seeing what Jesus sees—people made in the image of their Maker, and worth all the love in the world. That’s why they recently hosted a prom for seventy people with special needs, complete with hair and makeup care, shoe shining, crown or tiara, delicious food, a limousine, and red-carpet treatment. Continue reading

By Faith and Not by Sight: A Blind Minister’s Vision Realized

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Photo: Sarah Blake LaRose

By Carl Stagner

A complication of premature birth, blindness has been an ever-present struggle for Sarah Blake LaRose. Though she’s had to endure the great challenges of blindness, and a variety of other physical hardships, she’s also seen clearly the beautiful nuances of life that many with fully functioning eyes may never see. Moreover, her contributions to society, particularly for the blind community, have been astounding. So astounding, in fact, that she was named one of this year’s Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award winners by the National Federation of the Blind. Sarah, who envisioned equal accessibility to scholarly study of the Bible for the blind, has, in many ways, herself contributed to the realization of that dream. Continue reading