“And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
This past summer, Mary and her daughter Olivia participated in the Summer Friendship Gathering at Spirit of Joy Church. She remembers how she first learned about the Friendship group for adults with intellectual disabilities at Spirit of Joy – through a friend who had received a visit from members of the church.
Olivia has disabilities and the ministry for people with disabilities at her church was no longer available. Mary was excited to learn that Spirit of Joy would include Olivia in their ministry. Her friend, and the visitors from Spirit of Joy, were “those who bring good news.”
Spirit of Joy partners with Connection Ministries for both the Summer Friendship Gathering and their weekly Friendship group.
Together, we shared meals, studied God’s Word, sang praises, discussed the lessons, and prayed together. The Spirit of Joy Gathering connected Mary and Olivia to a Christian community that embraces adult friends with disabilities, their families and caregivers.
According to Mark Wilhelm, the pastor at Spirit of Joy, about 70% of their members helped with last summer’s Gathering – as greeters, teachers, discussion group members, meal preparers, or by donating food and supplies. Most importantly, everyone, both the volunteers and those with disabilities, developed friendships. In fact, following the Gathering, 5 church members became involved with Spirit of Joy’s weekly Friendship group!
The leadership of Spirit of Joy has witnessed God’s blessings on their Friendship group and congregation through this ministry. It is one of the primary ways they reach into their community.
Spirit of Joy is not a large church but they have made their ministry with our friends with disabilities a priority. This focus shows through the large impact they have in their community. Every Tuesday, about 25-35 friends with disabilities attend their Friendship group!
Connection Ministries seeks to equip Christian churches for this ministry. About one third of our effort is focused on the Summer Friendship Gatherings. Our goal is for every friend with a disability involved in a Friendship group to also have access to a Gathering.
But we need your help!
Connection Ministries uses your financial gifts to support the cost of each event, about $5,000, including, curriculum development, T-shirts, mailings, craft supplies, and staff support during the event.
Because we want everyone to attend, we do not charge a fee to participate. Our suggested donation for participants covers a bit less than 15% of the total cost.
Large or small, your gift will make a difference!
You also can be a person who brings good news, either through your gifts or by being involved in a Friendship group. Consider making a one-time visit! You can find a list of churches with Friendship groups on our website; http://connection-ministries.org/locations/.
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