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November 12, 2017 is
Orphan Sunday


Community Clergy Training
from the VA -
Pastoral care for rural
veterans and families.
Various locations/dates.







Persons with Disabilities

U.S. Missions takes seriously the Biblical admonition to "Defend the weak and the fatherless;uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed" Psalms 82:3 (KJV), through ministry to persons with disabilities.  These people constitute a substantial segment of the world and U.S. population, and the fellowship's Fourth Reason for Being--compassion--compels us to find ways to reach them for Christ.

Spring is here! And that means summer camp season is coming!

For many kids, spring means planning for summer camp--church camp, Scout camp, fine arts camp, whatever suits their interest.  Thanks to some wonderful organizations, including U.S. Missions ministries, children and adults with physical or developmental disabilities can be part of the excitement.  Check out Summer Getaways from Special Touch Ministries, offered in several locations throughout the U.S., and Ability Tree's Victory Ability Camp. 

FAQ's and Statistics

The Americans with Disabilities Act continues to impact the lives of persons with disabilities and their opportunities to interact and function to their maximum potential. Review highlights of this important legislation, and how it affects your church, school, or place of business, here. For an interesting chronology of the struggle for rights for persons with disabilities in the United States, check out this blog post from the Christian Reformed Church Disability Concerns network.

FAQs about service animals and the ADA

People with Disabilities in Rural Areas

Child Care Centers and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Searchable data and statistics from the CDC - Use the Disability and Health Data System interactive tool to search by topic or by state

School-Aged Children with Disabilities in U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2010 (PDF)

Crime Against Persons with Disabilities

Disability Statistics by State

Fact Sheets for Specific Disabilities 

Facts about the Americans with Disabilities Act from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Myths vs. Facts about persons with disabilities

Don't miss out on exercising your right to vote because of a physical disability. Visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission website for information about the accommodations you are entitled to as a voter.




Speakers and U.S. Missionaries

(click on each name to see the ministry)

U.S. Missionary Charlie Chivers and the Special Touch Ministries staff (See a recent PE News article about this ministry.)

U.S. Missionary Joe Butler (Ability Tree) - See a recent PE News article about this ministry  

U.S. Missionary Larry Campbell (Friend2Friend - see recent article in PE News, "An Overlooked Community") 

Thomas and Angelia Carpenter - As a part of Special Touch Ministry, the Carpenters' ministry focus is emergency intervention for those who have newly or suddenly entered the world of disability.

Resources and Training for Churches

"People with disabilities desperately want to attend church and are actively looking for churches that care."
--Special Touch

"When people with disabilities are encouraged in the life of the church, you have a healthier church."
--Disability Concerns network

Disability-friendly churches: Certification through Special Touch Ministries - Use their assessment survey to get started - It may take planning to get to the "gold" or "platinum" level, but every church can do something, right away!

Compel Them to Come In - Written by the director of Special Touch Ministries, this book takes you into the world of those experiencing a disability, their desperate need for Christian fellowship and a church home, and how your church can be that church home.  A study guide is available.

Assemblies of God Center for the Blind - audio Bibles and other Christian materials for blind and visually impaired adults and children. Check out their YouTube channel for informative, entertaining short videos on topics such as "How to Talk to a Blind Person" - perfect length for using as an awareness tool.

While many people with disabilities lead productive, happy lives, some persons recently disabled by traumatic illness or injury may benefit from caring critical incident response.  Check the 461 Response website to register your church as a "caring community" or to get training.

Key Ministry - Training and consulting to equip the church for including everyone and supporting families with special needs.

Tim Tebow Foundation - Partners with churches to create "Night to Shine," a prom-type celebration for persons with special needs.

From Elim Christian Services, the "5 Stages" tool helps churches determine where they are in relating to their brothers and sisters in Christ who have disabilities, with the goal of moving from ignorance and pity, to caring and friendship, to becoming co-laborers encouraging and appreciating one another as individually gifted believers. 

"On Greeting Persons with Disabilities: A Suggestion Manual for Ushers and Greeters" - Great checklist from the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church.  You may want to incorporate these ideas into your usher/greeter orientation as a step toward becoming a more welcoming church.

"Beyond Suffering": Ministry training for churches from Joni Eareckson Tada's "Joni and Friends"; helpful books and church accessibility checklist also available.

Curriculum: "Principles for Life", adapted by Special Touch Ministry to assist churches in reaching people with intellectual disabilities with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Simple, basic Bible lessons, activity suggestions, and teacher notes, easily adjusted to the abilities of the class members.

Disability Concerns: "Everybody Belongs. Everybody Serves." Network for ministry to persons with disabilities and resources for incorporating their gifts into the life of the church.  Articles, webinars, and more. The webinar, "Everybody Serves," includes a downloadable PDF of suggested reading for church leaders wishing to include persons with disabilities in the life of the church community.  Check out their post, "Build the Ramp for People Who CAN Walk," suggesting that accommodating those with disabilities helps the entire congregation adopt an attitude of true community.

Also from the Disability Concerns network - "Redirecting Challenging Behaviors" - This informative and lively video presentation will help equip youth and children's ministry leaders to include all youth without being derailed by unexpected or unfamiliar behavioral challenges.

"Creating a Safe Community for People Who Have Mental Illnesses," blog post of suggestions for churches.

CLC Network: Christian Learning Center offers training events and resources to equip chuches, families, and schools. Visit their bookstore for several books on reaching persons with communications disabilities with the good news of Jesus. 

Downloadable from the Lutheran Church/Missouri Synod:  Disability Ministry Assessment Tool

A person is not defined by a disability he or she may have. In fact, the definition of "wellness" from SAMHSA (U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) doesn't even mention the absence of a disability as a condition of being well--but it does mention the importance of community, social, and emotional support! Read this blog post, "Disability Doesn't Preclude Wellness," highlighting the importance of the church in creating community for persons with disabilities.

If your church is thinking of starting a group, let this group coordinator's open sharing of successes and failures help.


Other Helpful Resources

The Beyond Suffering Bible - Study Bible for those with disabilities or chronic illness and those who love them.

Cerebral Palsy Guidance - comprehensive site with answers and guidance for parents of a child with cerebral palsy. Blog for sharing and interacting with other parents.

The Love Chromosome - Hosted by Derrick and Julie Tennant. Derrick was a gifted athlete when he was struck with a mysterious illness leaving him partially paralyzed; his sister Julie has Down Syndrome. Together they offer encouragement, fun T-shirts, and Julie's blog. They also travel as inspirational speakers.

Financial decisions can be challenging for those with disabilities, but resources are available to help with navigating them. Check out "Fulfilling the American Dream: A Guide for Disabled Homebuyers," "Securing A Home Mortgage," and Disability Advisor's "Money Management Skills: Part One."

Estate Planning for Parents of Special Needs Kids

From the National Military Family Association: Resources for Military Families of Children with Special Needs

People with disabilities may experience unique challenges with getting sufficient sleep or finding the right bed or assistive device. This article offers helpful discussion of the connection between disabilities and sleep, plus links to additional resources: "Mattress and Bedding Guide for People with Disabilities"

TED Talk by Karen Gaffney - This young woman's accomplishments, such as swimming the English Channel or receiving an honorary doctorate, would be impressive in any context, but the fact that she has Down Syndrome makes her a powerful voice stating that every life has value.

Not sure what to buy for a Christmas or birthday gift?  Check out the "Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids" - organized by area of special ability, skill, or challenge, this guide can be customized by age range and budget.  Or enjoy this article about Lego's wheelchair minifigure.

For additional summer sports and recreation information, including specific opportunities for specific challenges such as recent limb loss or cancer patients, check the adaptive sports equipment and events at Disabled Sports USA.

Moderate intellectual disability or limited mobility doesn't mean a person can't enjoy studying the Bible in the land where much of it took place!  The "Heart of God"  and "Thru the Roof" Holy Land tours from Under the Fig Tree Ministries can help make this wonderful experience accessible. 

Runway of Dreams - This nonprofit works to adapt clothing for accessibility for the differently-abled community.  Watch their mini-documentary for a glimpse of how stylish, accessible clothing boosts confidence for adults and kids alike.

Back-to-school time brings its own special set of challenges for parents of children with special needs.  Download a PDF of encouraging tips from LD Online or visit their back-to-school section at

The sheer amount of information related to a newly acquired disability or injury can be overwhelming.  Get help sorting it all out and finding the resources that apply to your concern: The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) summarizes research, identifies health information needs, and develops systems for sharing information for the NIDRR model systems programs in traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and burn injury.

New from, "Home Remodeling for Disability and Special Needs" is a comprehensive guide to grants and other resources available for making a home accessible, as well as tips for finding a reputable contractor and making sure the work is done correctly.

My Child Without Limits - Informative site with recent news, legislative updates, basic definitions and descriptions of various types of disabilities with links to additional resources for each.

Emergency preparedness tips from the CDC, for persons with disabilities and their caregivers. Also check out this Flood Preparedness Safety Guide with a special section for persons with disabilities.

Family Caregiver Tips from the Center for Disease Control

Department of Health and Human Services: Blog - sign up to receive notifications of new blog posts including helpful information on a variety of topics. Check out the recent entry, "Everyone Can Help Stop Bullying of Children with Tourette Syndrome."

John Paul II Medical Research Institute: Ethical, pro-life research for chronic and disabling illnesses

Wondering what is the correct terminology to use when describing a disability or talking to someone with a disability?  This style guide will help.

From the Social Security Administration:  Benefits for Children with Disabilities

List of support groups from Children's Disabilities Information

Parenting a Child with Special Needs

Signposts Ministries: Blog and support network by and for parents of children with disabilities

The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project: Support network for parents and caregivers

Free Brochures and informational materials from the Center for Disease Control

Friendship Circle Blog: Interaction with parents, helpful tools for educators, and suggested resources for everything from handling transportation issues to buying shoes!

Tip sheet for preventing bullying of children with disabilities

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Links

Children with Physical Disabilities: Medical research and reports

School help for homeless children with disabilities (PDF)

Video from Chaplaincy Ministries: Chaplain's testimony of overcoming disabilities in order to minister to others

Joni Eareckson Tada: Joni and Friends International Disability Center provides a variety of services and resources, including the latest information on advocacy and public policy, ministry training for churches, and help finding a disability-friendly church. Visit their website,  You can also download a handy list of national disability organizations

Inspirational TED Talk, "My 12 Pairs of Legs," by actor, model, athlete, activist, and double amputee, Aimee Mulliins.

Autism resources:

  - From the Brookings Institute blog, "A Parent's Perspective: Rethinking Autism Therapy"

  - Downloadable from Joni and Friends - "Life in the Balance: Making Sense of Autism"

  - Life events such as death or divorce can be even more complicated with a child with autism is involved. See this helpful article, "Divorce and Children with Autism."


Disabilities and employment

A disability is only one part of a whole person: Check the "what can you do" website for a variety of free or downloadable resources and ways you can help make potential employers aware of the many talents brought to the workplace by persons with disabilities. The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition of the AAPD (American Association of Persons with Disabilities) offers a downloadable "Suggested Steps for Congregations" with practical things churches can do to help unemployed or underemployed community members with disabilities maximize their potential. Find additional resources on employment for youth with disabilities at the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability. The U.S. Department of Labor's Job Accommodation Network also offers employment resources, including disability etiquette questions for the workplace.

"Seeing People for Their Strengths, Not Their Weaknesses" - As part of the "I Am HHS" series from the Department of Health & Human Services, a program manager at the Department shares his experience in hiring people with disabilities who have proven to be reliable, conscientious employees. From the same blog, see also "Advocating for People with Disabilities." 

"Business Ideas for People with Disabilities" - Informative post with ideas for people with disabilities who wish to start their own business. Links to additional helpful information about financing, grants, and franchise opportunities.

The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment provides tips about legal requirements, networking opportunities, and other resources.

Article: "Most Employers Are Overlooking This Source of Talent" - why persons with disabilities often make great employees, and what employers can do to be more welcoming.

Disability provisions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Check your state's .gov website for a list of benefits and services specific to your state--community resources, groups, independent living centers, voter assistance, and more. Sites vary by state.




Additional Questions and Information



View additional compassionate ministry topics and resource sharing guidelines, here.







Contact Info

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Fax: 417-863-7276

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