Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Tag: autism

Autism “Action” Month

The month of April at Impact Church is special! If you were in Worship this morning then you saw everyone wearing blue in honor of Autism Awareness Month. For those who have been connected with Impact for a while, our support and ministry to children with Autism is commonplace. However, for those who are not familiar with Impact, I would like to articulate why we feel so compelled and called to serve these children and their families.

The following is a letter written by a mother of a child with Autism. Although, many of us may not know her personally, her sentiments are shared by over 900 families in Greensboro. These are stories that Sarah Althoff, Kay Davis, and Norma McLamb heard almost every day in the public school system. The reality is that believing families were looking for a place to worship but were unable to because of the church’s inability to accommodate the needs of their children. We became “aware” of the problem. However, we began to feel God’s stirring to not just be aware but to be active participants in the solution.

Excerpt from Autism and The Church by Amy Fenton Lee:

Have you ever heard of a church that turned away a little boy because he had red hair? What if a mother was greeted at the children’s ministry check-in with news her redheaded son had to go back home? No, you can’t imagine. If any church ever sent home a child because of their natural hair color it would make the evening news!

Now, have you ever heard of a church that turned away a little boy because he was on the autism spectrum? What if a mother was greeted at church check-in with the news that her son with autism couldn’t be accommodated? Yes, you can imagine. It happens.

Did you know that the percentage of Americans with red hair is roughly equal to the percentage of 8-year-old boys diagnosed with autism? I think it’s fair to say that statistically speaking, a children’s ministry should have the same number of participating boys with autism as with red hair. That’s pretty sobering. People would go nuts (justifiably) if families of redheaded kids had to figure out which churches were “redhead friendly”. The reality is that this same scenario is happening now for families of kids with autism. While many churches are working to become special needs-friendly, there is room for improvement.

Recently a church leader said to me, “We just don’t have any kids with significant special needs in our church. We haven’t seen the need to create a ministry or think about doing anything special to accommodate students with disabilities.”

In the church world, we’re at a fork in the road. Up to now, it’s been an accepted norm that not all churches could or should accommodate kids with autism and other special needs. Realistically, churches cannot all accommodate these needs to the same degree. But times are changing. It is no longer acceptable for any church to be unaware of and unprepared to welcome families with special needs. Every church needs a plan for inclusion.

These real-life experiences led Impact to consider what we could do to help and in that searching we found a calling that has given us immeasurably more than we have given it. As of now, Impact Church has certified teachers at every worship service that provide individual and appropriate instruction and care for children with Autism. On Sunday mornings, we have a time of worship and music specifically for children with special needs. Furthermore, we have a 4 week Impact Autism Summer Camp, culminating in the Autism Extravaganza (a big block party, outdoor celebration) that is providing acceptance, love, and resources for hundreds of children in our area. Lastly, we have also founded Impact Journey School, a private school for children with special needs. We currently serve 30 children with 14 staff members including ABA curriculum, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and music therapy. Praise the Lord! We are thankful for the heart of the church that makes these events and ministries possible.

Lastly, as thankful as we are for all that we have been able to do, we are willing and desiring to learn and expand as we see needs increase. Therefore, if you have any ideas as to how we can better serve children with Autism and their families please let us know. We want to be a part of the solution!

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Autism “Action” Month

The month of April at Impact Church is special!  As you have noticed at every worship service, we have been honoring national Autism Awareness Month.  For those who have been connected with Impact for a while, our support and ministry to children with Autism is commonplace. However, for those who are not familiar with Impact, I would like to articulate why we feel so compelled and called to serve these children and their families.

The following is a letter written by a mother of a child with Autism. Although, many of us may not know her personally, her sentiments are shared by over 900 families in Greensboro. These are stories that Sarah Altholf, Kay Davis, Norma McLamb, and Eleni Hedrick heard almost every day in the public school system. The reality is that believing families were looking for a place to worship but were unable to because of the church’s inability to accommodate the needs of their children. We became “aware” of the problem. However, we began to feel God’s stirring to not just be aware of the condition but to be active participants in the solution.

Excerpt from Autism and The Church by Amy Fenton Lee

Have you ever heard of a church that turned away a little boy because he had red hair? What if a mother was greeted at the children’s ministry check-in with news her redheaded son had to go back home? No, you can’t imagine. If any church ever sent home a child because of their natural hair color it would make the evening news!

Now, have you ever heard of a church that turned away a little boy because he was on the autism spectrum? What if a mother was greeted at church check-in with the news that her son with autism couldn’t be accommodated? Yes, you can imagine. It happens.

Did you know that the percentage of Americans with red hair is roughly equal to the percentage of 8-year-old boys diagnosed with autism? I think it’s fair to say that statistically speaking, a children’s ministry should have the same number of participating boys with autism as with red hair. That’s pretty sobering. People would go nuts (justifiably) if families of redheaded kids had to figure out which churches were “redhead friendly”. The reality is that this same scenario is happening now for families of kids with autism. While many churches are working to become special needs-friendly, there is room for improvement.

Recently a church leader said to me, “We just don’t have any kids with significant special needs in our church. We haven’t seen the need to create a ministry or think about doing anything special to accommodate students with disabilities.”

In the church world, we’re at a fork in the road. Up to now, it’s been an accepted norm that not all churches could or should accommodate kids with autism and other special needs. Realistically, churches cannot all accommodate these needs to the same degree. But times are changing. It is no longer acceptable for any church to be unaware of and unprepared to welcome families with special needs. Every church needs a plan for inclusion.

 These real-life experiences led Impact to consider what we could do to help and in that searching we found a calling that has given us immeasurably more than we have given it. As of now, Impact Church has certified teachers at every worship service that provide individual and appropriate instruction and care for children with Autism. On Sunday mornings, we have a time of worship and music specifically for children with special needs. Furthermore, we have a 7 week Impact Autism Summer Camp, culminating in the Autism Extravaganza (a big block party, outdoor celebration) that is providing acceptance, love, and resources for hundreds of children in our area. We also support and partner with several organizations in Greensboro, including Horse Friends and Autism Unbound. Praise the Lord! We are thankful for the heart of the church that makes these events and ministries possible.

To end this year’s Autism Month we are inviting everyone from Impact Church that can to participate in the Autism Unbound 5k walk/run on April 30th and to show your support for these children and families by wearing the color blue to church that weekend (April 30th & May 1st).

Lastly, as thankful as we are for all that we have been able to do, we are willing and desiring to learn and expand as we see needs increasing. Therefore, if you have any ideas as to how we can better serve children with Autism and their families please let us know. We want to be a part of the solution!

For Now and Forever

3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2 And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4 But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” 5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10 

Living with a chronic, debilitating physical ailment will defeat anyone faster than anything else. Whether it is a toothache, a splinter, or a blister there are several things that will cause us great discomfort and change our view of the world. Most of the drug industry is fueled by the simple need to relieve pain. But an ailment that no drug can remove is a real test for one’s faith.

In Acts 3, the story of the lame man begging for alms, or as we know it, money, highlights the plight of man in the natural world: he is broken down by the things that occur in life. No explanation for its cause and no solution for its remedy, all that the family could hope for was money to attend to their basic needs for food. A lame man cannot work to support himself or his family, so he begs on the street.

Someone carried the chronically lame man to the same place in Jerusalem every day. Ironically, he was placed at the Beautiful Gate near the Temple. There was nothing Beautiful about his condition and God, as symbolized by the Temple, had not made a difference in his life. While people may have helped in the days before, his need remained and every day his family carried him to the place to beg.

In a change in world history and with the institution of a new economy, the apostolic team of Peter and John walked by the lame man. Headed to the Temple, these two stars of the Apostolic troupe looked hard at the beggar and called out, “Look at us!” Expecting to receive alms, or money from the two, the man looked at the men. What he expected would be the same old gift that only comforted his ailment and didn’t heal his body.

Peter, by the authority of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit told the man to do the same thing Jesus Christ had said in John 5 to the lame man at the Sheep Gate, “Walk!” Read the rest of this entry »

Our Privileged Assignment

Building on a Strong Foundation

As the month of April comes quickly to an end, the focused public awareness of Autism this month has provided could easily be lost through the busyness of our schedules and unintentional distraction. Unfortunately, there are people who jump on publicized bandwagons when the winds of attention are stirring, then become AWOL when convenience becomes costly and culture’s hype is less cool and rewarding. There’s little long-term transformation possible in the heart and mind of expected Autism supporters when the attention span it requires is as fickle as this spring’s weather. This should not, and cannot be our testimony.

As blogs, tweets, messages and various means of information have graced the public venues of print and technology this month, let us continue in ways that will consciously and gratefully make an ongoing difference. Time can diminish our zeal, and initial energy can be weakened if our sincere love be allowed to become a laborious duty. Choose to purposefully align and integrate with families that have children with Autism. Choose to encouragingly lift those who daily care and teach the same. We’ve been honored with this privileged assignment; we will see it through with passion and consistency. Our eternal rewards (and so many of our present time blessings, as well) are contingent on our faithful attention to even the smallest details of this beautiful ministry. Without fanfare, love will endeavor to make another’s day better; and the ways that can happen are innumerable and inexpensive. Be perceptive.

Much deeper and far beyond the eyes or perception of the outside world lies our greatest power. Outside the scope of our capacity to love and honor with our physical skills lies our most invaluable, yet invisible strength: our knowledge of the ever present ear of our Father when our prayers are being offered. Whatever the difficulties and dilemmas we face personally within our church family, persistent prayer will bestow sufficient Grace to our needs. God knows our occasional struggles and inconsistencies, both of the loved and the ones who are doing the loving; and that truth will keep us all obliged to be our brother’s keeper. Acknowledge the consistency of those who persevere lovingly without commendation or reward. What is normal for them is probably viewed as an unwilling extreme for the rest of us; honoring that in prayer and gratitude is proper. Opportunities in this life to love and care are divinely appointed; may we please well the One who trusted us with His precious children.

Impact Church is poised by promise to increase her territory; those who believe will enjoy the rich rewards of walking by faith in these divine Promises.

Blessings in abundance to all of Impact Church! ~ Pastor Mike Davis