By Asst Ps Patrick Chan Yin
My heart particularly ached when I first read the sad news that two children’s bodies were found dead in a canal next to a playground recently. Why particularly so this time round? Well, it was not only about the tragic death of two twin boys but they were also special needs children. For those of you who may not know, God graced my wife Annick and I with two twin boys who happened to be also special needs children (they are now 7 years old). The first one is mildly autistic and high functioning and the second one is moderately autistic and is still non-verbal. I felt very sympathetic towards the parents and how they might be feeling after such terrible circumstance. But then the next day came the shocking news that the father was arrested for the murder of one of the twins. My heart sank further and could only pray a prayer of mercy and support for the father and the bereaved family. My mind then rushed back to instances when my wife and I felt very frustrated with our boys’ slow responses, limited understandings, and development delays, and wanted many times to “throw in the towel.” There were sleepless nights because I was (and still am) worried for them and what’s going to happen in the future. There were (and still are) occasions when I wrestled with God and asked Him why He allowed such challenging situations to happen to our lives. “We can’t take it anymore, Lord” was our honest plea.
That’s when we were also reminded that we should all the more rely on God’s strength, patience and perseverance in parenting our boys, and then to continue to trust in His wisdom and provision for them. That’s God’s way of moulding us and be more dependent on Him. And God is indeed merciful and faithful! In such a time, when we are encouraging our church to be more caring towards one another, especially during this time of the pandemic, our family has experienced time and time again God’s love, support and provision through His people, the church. From various uncles and aunties in church, to our own CG (Beacon CG), to friends and youth leaders, we have miraculously experienced the care, love and support from our heavenly Father, through His people. And that is the main point I am writing this pastoral page today. To acknowledge that it is indeed very tough to parent and take care of special needs children and we know it is a life-long journey of hard work, incessant worries, significant costs, and uncertain future; but to also bear witness of God’s love, faithfulness and provision, through the church, brothers and sisters in Christ, who have made themselves available to pray, support and care for our family not just in words, but in practical ways as well. For that, we give thanks to God and the church!
More Than That
More than that, the church’s children ministry (aka Kids For Christ) has amazingly and graciously started an inclusive class for special needs children recently, with the rest of the children, on Saturdays at 5pm, in Seminar Room 2 (Level 2 of CBC). We are grateful and can’t be thankful enough for all the volunteers who have come on board to teach and support this class week in week out. It has taken some years in the making and finally, God has enabled it to come to pass. So, a special shout out to Quincy Tan, Samantha Chua, Ellis Goh, Celestine Thong, Janice Quek, Vanessa Chua and Lee Hui Jun, who are the pioneer teachers and volunteers anchoring this group, with the support of the KFC staff. And I pray that God will bless these volunteers and will raise more volunteers and supporters from within the church to support such ministries as the children indeed need more structure and support. Yes, it is true that it requires certain skills and knowledge to teach and take care of children with special needs, but such skills can be picked up and knowledge be learned by serving alongside these volunteers.
Of course, more can be done to help and support special needs children, youths and adults in our midst, but it starts with first acknowledging there are such special people in our midst, and extra patience and understanding are needed to accept them for who they are and include them in our groups, events and activities. They too can and need to experience God’s love in their lives and eventually embrace the Good News of Jesus as they personally experience God’s love through the church and brothers and sisters in Christ.
Lastly, I would also like to encourage other parents (or caregivers) in our church, who have children with special needs, to come forward and not be afraid to seek help and support because we are a church and a big family of God. There is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, when he reminded the church of what we are all supposed to be and do as a body of Christ:
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. [Emphasis added]