For those of you that don't know, I work with learning disabled adults 3 days a week. I have been in a training course that teaches us to do intensive interaction in order to work with clients who are in the Autistic Spectrum. It would take pages to try and explain Autism and no one completely understands it anyway, but suffice it to say, that those severely afflicted seem to be in their own world and don’t seem that interested in communicating with us, or, that our “normal” way of communication doesn’t seem to relate to them. So with intensive interaction we try to find ways to communicate to them in their unique language.
Sometimes I sit and just rock back and forth with Craig (not his real name). Other times he takes my hands and presses them on his ears and then rocks his head back and forth. I take those moments to whisper to him that Jesus loves him. Rocking is the common language Craig and I can “speak” to one another.
Sometimes Tammy likes to just sit and throw a ball. She doesn’t normally like to be touched, but I have found that when she throws the ball I can playfully say, “Oh, when you throw the ball, I get a cuddle.” Then I can gently put my arms around her and snuggle up to her and her face just beams with a joyful smile. That ball is the Rosetta stone that I use to translate love to Tammy.
I am sharing this with you as I see it as a picture of how God communicates with us. In the brokenness of our sinful world humankind has lost the ability to understand and communicate with God. In Romans 1:20
we are told that God has revealed Himself to mankind through His creation.
However, He didn’t stop there. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son (John 3:16
). One of the reasons the Missionary God became a missionary was to have intensive interaction with broken people. He bent down to our level and spoke to us in a language we can understand. Then He died and rose again that we might have life and a living relationship with God.
My words or my touch to an autistic person can sound or feel harsh and unpleasant, and even frightening. I remember when the Bible sounded and felt that way to me. The words sin, repentance, and righteousness actually scared me. Yet now those words are precious to me because Jesus speaks these words to me and I hear them through the language of GRACE. I can embrace them and understand the LOVE of God through them rather than the wrath of God that I legitimately deserve.
In Christ we are completely forgiven. In Christ, by His Spirit, God speaks to us through His Word and renews our mind. Jesus meets each one of us where we are. He is intimate, close, and caring. His Spirit dwells within us.
I will never be able to heal the clients I work with. I know God can and does do miracles and I pray for them. For now, I can follow the example Jesus gives us and be an instrument of His love to these young men and women. I can bend down to them and seek to speak to them in ways that will communicate to them how loved they are.
If you ever pray for the learning disabled, please pray for their families too. As far as I know, none of the families I am currently working with are Christians. None of them have that hope of seeing how God can take any circumstance, any sorrow or pain, and redeem it for His glory. (John 9:3
) Without Jesus, none of them are receiving the peace and comfort of our loving Saviour. Please pray.
"This post was written by Anita Saunders who has served as a missionary for more than 25 years, first in Asia and now in England."