Engage Disability: 99 Balloons


Summit today at his baseball game at Miracle League while I was at the Engage Conference. 99 Balloons gave him the chance to do sports where otherwise it probably wouldn’t have happened for him. It’s the highlight of his every week during the season.

I got to spend the day with some amazing people. Have you ever had a moment where you exclaimed, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall!” Well today was that for me. I attended the 99 Balloons Engage Disability conference today in Fayetteville and was simply blown away by the passion and enthusiasm of these people. At one point (ok, like most of the day)  I was choking back tears to be in the presence of people WHO CARED. There were people from all over the country and Canada, gathering together with the intent to learn and grow how to do special needs ministries better in the church.

It’s has always felt self-serving for me to speak of how special needs really does need more inclusion in the church.  So I haven’t. That in no way disqualifies my story, that’s not what I mean to say here, but to have other people without vested interest advocating for this is something powerfully healing. These are good people.

I wrote a post on the conference page, on what I wish I would have said to the church when Summit was diagnosed. It was extremely hard and freeing at the same time to share this- but I felt supported and encouraged in ways this weekend that I haven’t felt in years. I talked with people who didn’t cringe when I said I had a special needs son, they leaned in with interest and respect. I have rarely, very rarely, felt this way before in the context of being a special needs mom. I almost didn’t know what to say, I had people ask me so many genuine questions about Summit.

The subject came up over lunch as I sat with a group of women, our gluten free allergies binding us in the lunch room, “what does he have?” one asked.

I responded timidly, “William’s Syndrome,” because no one has ever heard of it.

She saw me, looking at me in the eye, “I’ve known someone who had William’s Syndrome. He really could pray.”

She saw HIM, even through another. I can’t put into words what that felt like.

So, thank you. To you who have a calling to serving the 900mm special needs people in the world. To you who advocate for people who can’t. For you who encourage and help families. For you who are outspoken and passionate about making changes in your church.

Thank you for the encouragement of your calling to people who are so often marginalized and giving dignity back  to them. I am simply encouraged by spending time with you and inspired to continue story telling.

Quick checklist to see if you should do this Special Needs Ministry thing:

  • Have a heart or passion for people with special needs

 That’s it. You don’t have to know it all or be an expert. You simply need to step into the calling with sincerity. Ask questions.

How exactly to get involved in your community?  Share your time, your stories or your money. 99 Balloons: Get out of your comfort zone and be richly blessed. 

 Young Oceans- Hope of Glory

Sear to my soul Your word of truth, O Father
And make us heirs of Your throne
Rescued at last from darkness through Jesus
Faithful we carry on and gladness shall be our song
This is the day for Christ the Hope of Glory
O Mystery made known to us
Now is the time soon there will be no sorrow
Prepare our hearts to stand before You Lord
So we proclaim the mighty cross, O Savior
With wisdom and to this end
Struggling as one, we labor with Jesus
We will wait for You O Lord
May our hearts be ever pure
Holy Spirit fall on us, may Your blessed Kingdom come.