Every story has two sides.
I’ve heard enough first-hand stories from families with special needs about churches who have rejected them.
I’m not talking about stories like “well, they just weren’t sure what to do with us.”
No, I’m talking about conversations like the one I had with one of our moms after respite, when she, with tears in her eyes, told me, “We love the church. My dad is a pastor. But we don’t go to church anymore, because our last church asked us to leave.”
Please take a moment to process that before you move on. Take a moment to consider how you’d feel if you were asked to leave the church because of your eye color or skin tone or height or IQ or some other attribute you can’t control. This child wasn't aggressive or dangerous; they were asked to leave because the children's ministry leaders said his autism was too distracting.
If I were writing about a church that kicked out a family because their son was black, we’d be outraged. But sometimes when I share the stories I hear from the families we serve in Access, someone responds, “well, you can't really fault the church. They probably just didn’t know how to handle it.”
Maybe it’s because I’m dosed up on enough prednisone to work me into a bit more of a ranty state than usual (and to allow my asthmatic lungs to work), but let me tell you what I think of that sort of response: it’s baloney.
When church leaders kick out kids who aren’t up to the general education expectations they are used to, they don’t need our excuses.
They do need grace. And repentance. And yes, training. And prayer.
When I see tweets like this one (related to this story)
three prayers come to mind:
Jesus, help this family.
Jesus, let this church learn from this situation, even if the facts being reported aren’t completely accurate.
Jesus, please come soon.