138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
Megan Shutt with Jaclyn Royall
Here at The Bible Chapel, our Special Needs Ministry is home to volunteers who are passionate about helping individuals with special needs and their families experience God’s love for them. Today, one of our volunteers would like to share a little about her experience in the ministry, and the impact that it can have. Enjoy!
Hi! My name is Megan Shutt, and I would like to share a little about what serving those with special needs means to me, and encourage you if this is an area where you can see yourself getting involved.
Since 2013, I have served as a volunteer for the ministry’s monthly respite events, Wednesday evening programming, and both the Children’s and Adults’ Sunday morning ministry areas. I have also been a one-on-one buddy for the Night to Shine prom and served as support staff for buddies. All that is to say that I am familiar with many aspects of the ministry, and the more I experience, the more reasons I discover to remain involved in this vital service to God’s people.
We serve families in a unique way due to the individual needs of the children and adults who benefit. As a volunteer, you are choosing to take the time to understand and learn about each child or adult in a deeper way so that you can help them learn and enjoy themselves to their highest ability.
This ministry is a beautiful picture of God’s Kingdom and His purpose for all of us.
While Jesus was on earth, He went far and wide to minister to those with all types of needs, abilities, and illnesses, and He met them where they were. He revealed His heart for all people and demonstrated that their worth to Him is immeasurable and precious. In a society where select populations, including those with special needs, are sometimes marginalized, Jesus goes against this way of thinking and seeks to have a relationship with all. Just look at Mark 10:13-16 when Jesus welcomed the children with open arms in a culture that typically overlooked children. We can also look to John 4 where Jesus interacts with the woman at a well. Not only was she a woman – who were usually treated with much less dignity than men in that day – she was also a Samaritan: a group of people hated so much by the Jews that they took a long detour when traveling just to avoid walking through their land. In each of these cases, Jesus reached out to show love and compassion to people who were looked down upon in society.
Throughout the Gospels, we continuously see that Jesus fulfills people’s physical needs as a way to draw them to Himself and show them what it means to have their true spiritual needs met as well. He healed the paralyzed, blind, and sick; He fed people; He even raised the dead — but these miracles all served the greater purpose of guiding people to a relationship with Him.
That’s why we do what we do. Chapel Special Needs specifically works to create a supportive, safe, and fun environment for these individuals to learn about Jesus and His plan for them. The byproduct is that their families also get to grow spiritually, feel supported, and find rest so they can continue to be the amazing rocks needed for their child or adult who depends on them.
I could go on and on about the wonderful and practical things this ministry does to serve these individuals and their families, but it’s so much more than that. The volunteers have the opportunity to see Jesus’ heart for people and it results in developing more compassion, patience, and kindness.
Serving others keeps us grounded in the things that truly matter to God — people.
It’s all about others, and I’ve seen my own relationship with God grow deeper as a result of helping others. If we commit to submit to Him by serving unselfishly, we open ourselves up to the wonderful opportunity to be used by Him to further His kingdom. As it says in His Word:
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
— 1 John 3:17-18 ESV
When we choose to love and serve people, God’s love abides in us! So, if you have a desire to point people with special needs toward Christ and help them feel valued and loved, volunteering for Night to Shine is a great way to get your feet wet in the Special Needs Ministry! Serving at this event is a specific and intentional way to lift these individuals up and remind them how much God loves them.
As a buddy at a past Night to Shine event, I helped a gentleman who was unsure of being around too many people, and about the event in general. While some participants were excited about the dancing and music, my guy was more interested in the quiet areas, food, and photos. I offered him choices on how he could spend the evening and he tried other activities as he felt comfortable. My job as a buddy was to help him feel respected and gently offer opportunities to participate. Each person is unique and will have different experiences at Night to Shine. Our goal is to be patient, listen, help, and offer choices and encouragement to try things without pressure. This allows each person to have an amazing time that is as unique as they are. It’s also good to know that you don’t have to have all the experience and training in the world to be loving, positive, patient and kind.
God’s love can be shown in many different ways, but it always results in someone feeling valued and loved.
Ministering to people with Special Needs is just one of the ways God pours out His love, and it’s wonderful and humbling that He chooses to use us as His instruments to accomplish that. If He has impressed the desire on your heart, He could use you too! All you really need is an obedient heart that is ready to serve. He’ll take care of the rest. Click here to volunteer for Night to Shine. To learn more about volunteering in the Special Needs Ministry throughout the year, email or call 724-941-8990.