“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus emphasized the care for the poor, needy, and estranged. He called us to care for those around us. As we care for others, we care for Him.
This past week a very disturbing but not unexpected report came out about the church habits of children with autism, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, depression, and conduct disorders. The report indicated that the odds of a child with autism never attending religious services were nearly twice as high as children with no chronic health conditions. The odds were the same in all of the at risk areas.
Many of these children who are most in need of social interaction are those least likely to receive it.
By the way, studies show that children with chronic and persistent health conditions show improved mental and emotional health, higher self-esteem, and overall well-being when they attend church regularly. That is the kind of results we see for the population at large.
It simply does us good to attend religious services.
Why do these children not attend?
First, this is an invisible need. This population is unseen because of the difficulty of attending church and when they do attend they have a negative experience and don’t return.
Second, churches are not generally prepared for children with these kind of needs. I understand why. In reality, most churches have difficulty taking care of healthy children.
This kind of need is exactly what we learned when we began our Special Needs Ministry at our church. Families feel lost and uncared for. Many families feel that the church is telling them not to return.
It is obviously time for church people to see themselves as ministers rather than spectators. We must look differently at the world and our response to it. We must become those who care for the hurting among us. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”
What can we do?
We can plan, prepare, and volunteer. And, we can pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send laborers into His harvest.
Would you be that laborer?