I would like to give a shout out to my home church Randall Baptist. As a church family they have been extremely supportive of Philip and our family. When we first came back from Miami, I wanted to put Philip in the toddler room because even though he was 7 at the time, to me he seemed like he was on the developmental level of the toddlers. Besides I was very self-conscious that he would be disruptive to the regular children’s class and a problem for the teachers.
Our children’s church director Diane and a special education teacher Morgan took it upon themselves to start a ministry just for Philip. They knew better that Philip did not belong with the toddlers, but with kids his own age. Diane called me and explained what they wanted to do. She and Morgan assembled a team of volunteers who would be Philip’s one-to-one aids on a rotating basis for Children’s church. In addition, Kathy, the Sunday school teacher for grades 1-4 also found helpers for Philip.
Just about everyone at my church knows Philip. They are friendly and take time to interact with him. They want to be a blessing to him. Last week Daryl invited Philip to be part of his Stockade troop (similar to Boy Scouts). He said I could come and assist him with his letterboard. Kianne comes over to play and help with Philip’s lessons. She also gives him her old favorite Choose Your Own Adventure Books. Ellie brings her kids over to play with Philip and Nelson has become one of Philip’s first real friends.
Randall also let us use their building to host Soma during our first RPM Autism Workshop. For three days last May, Soma worked with 5 kids and their families there. People came from the community to witness Soma’s work with the kids and then hear her lecture in the afternoons. People from Randall volunteered as caregivers for Soma’s son Tito while she worked and also as volunteers to watch our kids during Soma’s lectures. Randall will again open its doors to Soma and Tito, a new group of children, and the autism community in October.
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to teach Philip’s helpers how to communicate with him using the letterboard. 7 of us, Philip included, sat at a round table in the Fellowship hall as I went over the “training manual” I came up with which explained the theory behind RPM and how to proceed up the ladder of communication. Philip was very cooperative and showed his helpers how to work through a sample Sunday school lesson. I was very impressed he was able to do it, as it was one of the first times he showed his skills to so many people at once (this was before our family dinner conversation I blogged about yesterday). Philip’s helpers had lots of questions and I did my best to answer. I explained it would be a process and that it will take time for Philip to get used to communicating with them in this way, but that it will be rewarding. His helpers were excited about Philip’s progress and their chance to help him.
My church family paints a beautiful picture of serving the “least of these.”
Matthew 25:34-40 reads “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Philip caroling with his Sunday school class at a local nursing home
Passing out cookies to the residents with Big Sis Ana
Participating in the Church Christmas Pageant