A and L live in South East Asia, where they are raising their three sons and reimagining life for two groups of people: L is reimagining the future for children with special educational needs (SEN) and A is reimagining life for people struggling under the weight of trauma and emotional issues.
Living with Special Educational Needs
In this part of the world, children born with a disability are often invisible: absent from official statistics and hidden away. Children with SEN are often isolated from their peers or even abandoned by their families. But things are changing.
As the founding chairperson of the local chapter of SENIA (Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Association), L is networking with others to increase the level and quality of special needs teaching in her location. L works day-today with teachers to identify and support children with SEN and their families and facilitates professional development for teachers. L, who holds a postgraduate certificate in special educational needs coordination, discovered a love and passion for children with SEN to be recognised and included while working with nursery-age children with SEN in the UK.
“For me, SEN provision is about inclusion and justice. It is only right that these children are afforded the same opportunities as their peers – to learn, to play and to grow. Children with SEN often have a different way of looking at and processing the world, and like different cultures and languages, can bring us more understanding of the nature of God. My passion and desire is to show God’s love and acceptance to children and their parents. Jesus advocated for the forgotten and the ostracised. My aim is to do that too, to be a voice for the voiceless as he was.”
Dara (not his real name), a child on the autistic spectrum, joined the school where L works when he was three years old. His parents were desperate for Dara to socialise with his peers and learn to talk. L supported the class teacher to provide differentiated learning for him within the class, provided training to his teaching assistant and found an appropriate therapist to work with him at school and at home. A year later Dara has started saying some words and using actions, joins in with activities like swimming and music, and has gone from playing alongside his peers to playing with them.
A is also reimagining: in his case, a life of freedom for so many who have been left in their brokenness for so long. “We see a history of violence and trauma which is not being fully addressed and which results in wounds being passed down the generations,” A says. In this culture, talking through trauma and acknowledging emotions is traditionally taboo, meaning people don’t have the tools to deal with their pain.
A is leading a Celebrate Recovery (CR) group, following the God-centred, group therapy-based model pioneered by Saddleback Church, California, in the 90s, which has brought healing to people around the world. Through this group, A is offering a Christian space where locals can find acceptance, support each other and open up and start talking about things. Though hugely counter-cultural, the groups are proving successful as participants live out their healing and family and friends see the real difference in their lives.
Each session includes worship and prayer, helping attendees to focus their minds on God as their deliverer, and fellowship in the form of a meal, giving members a chance to go deeper with others on the same journey. This holistic approach of inclusion, care and provision is essential here, where people are often shunned for their Christian beliefs.
One of the ways A has been able to come alongside those who are suffering is through sharing his own past experience with addiction. This had a great impact on his friend AP. Through being vulnerable himself, A has been able to bring AP out of denial and help him to see that his addiction is just that, an addiction. AP realises now that his pain, dependence and shame are issues that God recognises, cares about and that God loves him too much for him to stay that way. AP is now well on his way to a life free from alcohol.
A has seen God set people free from a range of issues, from minor unhealthy habits to significant addiction and major trauma. A counts it a privilege to serve alongside people as God brings healing.
God is transforming lives as A and L follow their call and reimagine the future for children with SEN and adults in need of healing in this part of the world.
A and L’s work is only possible because of generous supporters like you. If you would like to support them financially, click here and use the fund code M.HAAL, or call 01865 787489.
If your church would like to connect with mission partners like A and L, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.