RunnersAs most of our readers know, our ministry is primarily focused on encouraging and equipping men to become the spiritual leaders of their homes and communities. This past week we were engaged with several churches helping them create vibrant and dynamic ministries to men.

It was also our privilege to provide two Special Kids Day (SKD) Programs for the Disabled. It was 34 years ago that we started this program in the East Bay Area. Thanks to the leadership of ministry volunteers, we annually provide six such events to encourage those who are struggling with disabilities. Jeff Chow and Henry Jueng do an excellent job in organizing these events.

Our Special Kids Day Programs are always extraordinary times for the participants, the staff, and the helpful volunteers. Most of the disabled kids experience additional issues in their lives, as they come from single parented homes or foster care. They desperately desire attention and affection. As the young people experience our program and the loving people who assist them, they become very excited and joyful. Throughout the morning activities, the love of God is demonstrated in some very tangible ways.

As we reflect upon the SKD Programs, a story comes to mind that will help us appreciate the sensitive hearts of these special kids.

A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win – all, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to weep.

The other eight runners heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back – every one of them. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed her fallen friend on the forehead and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes.

People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down they knew this one thing, beyond our faith – what matters most in this life is how we encourage and empower others. Often the ultimate prize means slowing down and changing our course to assist others in crossing the finish-line.

When describing His ministry, Jesus said He came for the down-trodden, the disadvantaged, and those seeking to know God (Luke 4). The Apostle Paul also reminds us, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil. 2:4

That is good advice from our Lord who desires us to have a serious, caring involvement with others. One way that can happen is to take our eyes off our own often-excessive concerns and think about how we can effectively love, serve, and encourage others.

When you think about it, that is why we rarely have difficulty getting enough volunteers to help with our SKD Programs. Furthermore, in over three decades of serving around 27,000 kids, we have only had two disagreements or fights among the children. They are both appreciative and thankful. A lesson for all of us.

Personal Application

James 1:27 tells us that pure ministry is seeking God and taking care of the widows and orphans. Men’s Ministry Catalyst continues to assist single-parent families and working with initiatives like the Focus on the Family program of Wait No More. This program encourages families to adopt or take in foster children or assist families that have taken in a child in a supportive role. Can you think of some fatherless child you could assist as a mentor or friend? Maybe it might be involving yourself in one of our Special Kids Day Programs or starting a program like this in your area.

Jim Grassi, D. Min.