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People are made in God’s image and are loved wholly by him. Churches should be places where judgement and self-image are eliminated, along with feelings of exclusion, isolation and patronisation. However, this is not the norm within our churches.

For years churches have unknowingly excluded those with disabilities through their attitudes, lack of accessibility and ultimately lack of education. Many believe that segregating these individuals into ‘special’ groups satisfies the Lord Jesus Christ’s message of love. However, this segregation just distances us and them from knowing this love.

Embracing Ministries meets this message of love with strength and it has been an honour and a blessing to see the ministry grow to support and spread the word of God to so many families who churches have failed to include.

The programs offered by Embracing Ministries have helped establish this foundation of inclusion through their mentor program. I have personally been a part of the program for the last three years and have participated in all the programs offered; these being the Little Treasures and Spring Holiday programs and Minnows music.

I have been raised to know and love God and my vision of how the church should be has been mirrored in these programs, specifically that of the Little Treasures holiday program. Within this program 25 mainstream children mixed with 15 special needs children to create an all-inclusive program reflecting the all-inclusive God we all love. Every child on the program was able to hear the Easter story in a way understandable to them through a range of craft, visual and sensory items and acting out of stories.

Those with special needs may possess some difficulty in mainstream communication, though communicate through other modes such as Expressive communication, eg pointing, crying, signing, facial expressions and gesturing; and Augmentative communication, eg PODD, Sign language and symbol systems. A majority of children who attend the programs use the PODD system which uses pictures for communication needs.

Through the mentor program and work shops provided I have learnt how to use these different communication methods to connect with many of the individuals involved and have discovered how wonderful and precious each and every one of the children are, each possessing their own unique gifts and abilities.  I can 100% say that every child and youth that has been a part of these programs has filled me with happiness and has truly helped me grow in both my faith and as a person.

The programs offered by Embracing Ministries surround every person involved in a loving, nurturing environment showing everyone the wonder and grace of our all-inclusive loving saviour Jesus Christ. 

By Lucia-Sarah Horciu, Yr 12 Young Leader