Oh, it just hurts my heart to read stories like this. Church is supposed to be a place where we all feel accepted and loved. NO, I don't mean overlook sin, but a little compassion on the handicapped and the things their families go through would reflect well on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before I use some of these quotes from my blog friend Pentecostal Pariah, I'd like to give the disclaimer that the particular church I attend is at least TRYING to accept my children and help them fit in. This is probably my LAST STOP before I give up altogether. I mean it. But right now, I feel ok about where I am with my children. Please note also that by saying this, by no means am I saying that all church attendees have been sensitive or even kind. I just mean the pastor, staff, and *most* folks I interact with are on the OK side or better. Some of them have even gone out of their way to make church a friendly place for my family. But read what "Pentecostal Pariah" has to say about her church experience:
"Junior became totally unmanageable in church and we have not been for 2 years now. He was more or less a "spectacle" that was stared at and whispered about. The Sunday School teacher dreaded seeing my kids coming. No one out right said anything but he was disruptive and the gaulking of others made us very uncomfortable. One church we tried, we left before it even started because the Sunday School teacher rolled her eyes quite shockingly so we turned around and left. Nobody cared, so I suppose we did the right thing."
Those of you with "neurotypical" kids have no idea what we go through. Not playing the martyr here, and not criticizing you for your lack of understanding. I'm just making an observation: You don't know. You can't know. Church can work for most people if they want to go, but for some of us, the "meeting on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., singing seven songs followed by listening to a 45-minute three-point sermon" is NOT DO-ABLE. It just isn't. Please don't criticize those people who don't go to "church" as though they were the unsaved heathen. It just so happens that "church" as it is typically structured just doesn't work for everyone. So don't go putting in prayer requests for these people to "come back to church" and pretend like these people lost their faith because they stopped coming.
How would you feel if you were looked at that way? From the Pentecostal Pariah:
"To me, "church" is just a social club where friends and family meet. A place to go for a performance by the "leaders" and the one they like-in their "inn circle". They perform for you. The audience ooh's and aaahhhh's at how wonderfully they speak. How great they sing! They aspire to be "ONE OF THEM" . They hope they are asked to do something some day. All they aspire for is to be good and pleasing enough to get asked to serve in church or even....maybe, if they are real good, get asked to the pastors house."
This is a saved, Bible-believing woman who has been horribly hurt by her church. Can you see through this and look at the lonliness, the isolation that the entire family is going through??
***WE*** are the Church. If only their church would have sent an elder out every couple of weeks to pray over Junior and his family, without pressure to attend "the service." Maybe a respite friend if it's possible, so Mom can go to church or mayyybe if it's slowly introduced, our autistic parishoners can join a very small group. Just be sure to keep the group small and remember that if Jesus isn't healing this person, that means YOU have to adapt because she can't.
I know this would introduce a serious problem for small churches. There are many, many hurting families out there. I know some of them. If there were a real outpouring of love for these families, the word would get out. You'd have bunches of these people to minister to and it would overwhelm the volunteers. You'd need to get more volunteers because the harvest is ripe, but the workers -- the real workers who love and serve these people -- are few.
Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send more workers to the field.