Tag Archives: Matthew Ministry

Review: Not Worth Saving

Not Worth Saving Cover

From the first page of her memoir, Ann Joyner invites the reader into an intimate story of love, triumph and loss as she shares the story of her son, Matthew.  When Ann’s second pregnancy was very different from her first, her mommy instincts told her something was wrong. Her medical journey took her from doctors dismissing her concerns, to a diagnosis in her third trimester that Matthew’s was “not a life worth saving.” Told that Matthew was not likely to survive more than a few days at most after he was born, their post-natal plans included planning a funeral.

Learning that doctors are not God, Ann held on to scripture, Matthew 19:26 “With God, all things are possible.” Matthew proved God had plans for him. While Matthew struggled with fragile health due to a rare genetic abnormality, Ann and Jerry were faced time and again with a haunting question:

“How do you watch your child die? The answer we discovered is, you don’t. You watch your child live, however long that may be.”

Joyner 1This poignant story shares the faith journey of the family discovering God’s grace and everyday angels in the midst of their lives. Page after page shares stories of help just when it was needed, answered prayers, and improbable heroes. Key among them was her battle for medical coverage:

“Your son’s condition was diagnosed in utero, while you were pregnant with him. Therefore, all of his claims have been placed in the category of pre-existing. He had all of these problems before he was born. Your son has no medical coverage.”

Joyner 2Ann has a gift of story-telling, coupled with a strong faith that welcomes the reader into her life as if you are a long-lost friend and she is catching you up on the details. Especially poignant to me is the story of Matthew’s relationship with his older brother Drew. Parents of children with special needs often feel guilt or worry about neglected siblings who are short-changed in the midst of life with special needs. Understanding and appreciating Drew’s unique relationship and fierce loyalty to his brother is a welcome message of hope and love.

 

For any parent looking for a story of inspiration, faith and hope in the midst of the journey with special needs I recommend Ann Joyner’s, Not Worth Saving.

Saving God, Thank you for the Joyner family and their openness in sharing their lives. May otyhers be inspired by their story of unconditional love.  Encourage Ann in her minsitry that makes space for all of God’s children. Amen

annjoynerphoto

Bio: Ann Joyner, author of Not Worth Saving, proved with a two-year secretarial degree that a passionate, determined, and stubborn mother, who asks for God’s help needn’t have an MA, PhD or MD to turn a life “not worth saving” into one that touches and saves thousands of others.  Filled with the desire to show that each life has unlimited value, Ann has delivered the message in several worship services, shared with Book Groups, Sunday School Classes, UMW Gatherings, workshops, and was Keynote Speaker at a luncheon benefiting those with special needs.  Last Spring, Not Worth Saving was named to the 2016 United Methodist Women’s Reading List.

Rev Doc Lorna

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Sonflower Bakery: A New Vision For Special Needs Adult Ministry

Sonflower Cakepops

The Church of the Resurrection in Leawood Kansas didn’t set out to start a special needs adult day program, but recognition of the needs in the community coupled with a bit of inspiration has given rise to a unique community for adults with cognitive impairments.

More than six years ago, Jennifer Ross, Director of Matthew’s Ministry special needs program, recognized the church needed to create opportunities for adults with cognitive impairments to share their gifts with the church. Young adults were graduating from public education with no job opportunities and no programs in the area uniquely suited to their needs. Mostly they were home all day with little to do. This also meant caregivers had limited respite.  She found ways to support caregivers while putting the gifts and abilities of adults to use at the church collating bulletins, sorting items collected for mission outreach, and more.

Then came the suggestion, “Let’s bake cookies and sell them to the staff at lunch time!”  While this may sound like an impossible task given that the ministry is housed in a church with no kitchen, Jennifer thought outside the box, “There was company selling frozen cookie dough. We bought three cases and the church got a small convection oven for free. Problem solved!”

That oven was never actually used to bake cookies.  When Jennifer shared her plan with a church member, that person knew of a grant that was available and suggested she apply. Within a few weeks, Sonflower Bakery had received a grant that allowed them to purchase everything they needed to create a small warming kitchen and a new ministry was born.

Sonflower Bakery

“Congregations often feel that they can’t offer ministry opportunities due to budget, but there are plenty of grant opportunities available.  Even if we had stayed the original model, the ministry created an opportunity to use the gifts of people who want to give back and help others.”

Sonflower Bakery began by baking cookies to sell in the café on campus, but has also become a vital tool in outreach to the community.  When Church of the Resurrection broke ground for new construction, Sonflower Bakery created 300 gift boxes of cookies and delivered them to local area businesses in order to be good neighbors in the midst of dust and disruption.

Over the past six years, Sonflower Bakery has grown from a few boxes of dough to selling over 100,000 items a year, including cookies, muffins, bread and more. Along the way, it also grew to become a full adult learning program with 23 participants.  Per the budget, there is a nominal fee for participants and the overall church budget covers any shortfall they may have across the year.  Participants bake cookies three days a week.  Other days they have a keyboard music program, ring handbells and perform throughout the community, participate in yoga, partner with the sewing ministry to create fleece pillows and blankets for homeless people in Kansas City, and pack backpacks with food so that under-privileged children have meals for the weekend when they leave school on Fridays. Anywhere from three to ten volunteers per day help keep the program running smoothly, along with Joan Baird, who is the coordinator for this thriving ministry.

Joan Baird

This well-rounded adult day program responds to the social, physical and spiritual needs in the lives of participants.  Most important, the gifts and abilities of everyone are recognized and valued. As an added bonus, caregivers receive some much-needed respite. When lead pastor Adam Hamilton says Matthew Ministry special needs ministry and the Sonflower Bakery are his favorite ministries of his church, it’s easy to tell he is sincere. After experiencing two days as part of the ministry myself, they have a special place in my heart, too.

If your congregation would like more information about starting an adult program, you can learn about Matthew Ministry and Sonflower Bakery by clicking here and here, or contact Jennifer Ross or Joan Baird at COR.org.

Equipping God, Thank you for equipping Jennifer and Joan to respond in creative ways in developing a ministry that recognizes the gifts and abilities of all people.  Bless them with energy and vision for following where you lead. Bless the ministry participants and volunteers in their unique community that blends gifts and service all to your glory. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna