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Monday, 16 October 2017 16:08

Rooftop Friends: Sharing the Love of Christ with Individuals and Families Affected by Disabilities

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“While we may not be witnessing the lame, the blind and the weak being healed right before our eyes, we have seen miraculous events take place and lives changed.”

 

 

The gospels of Mark and Luke have in them the story of a paralytic man whose friends are so determined to bring him to Jesus that they lower him down on a mat through the roof of the building where Jesus is speaking. Rooftop Friends out of Montgomery is trying to mimic those five friends, bridging the gap between the people on the mats and the ones who will lower them through the roof to see Jesus.

 

Rooftop Friends is the disabilities ministry of Young Meadows Presbyterian Church whose mission is to share the love of Christ with families and individuals who are affected by a physical, cognitive, or behavioral disability.

 

The ministry is spearheaded by Ruth Brewbaker, who has a son born with spina bifida.  After reading Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada and attending a Joni and Friends family retreat in North Carolina, Ruth thought it was time for her son and others to have opportunities like this closer to home.

 

“We were shown the love of Christ in the most tremendous ways,” Ruth says. “Standing in the back of the chapel [at a Joni and Friends camp] one night, seeing all these people singing and worshiping the Lord with all types of disabilities and from various backgrounds in life, a passion was put in my heart to have something like this in my own church and in my own city and state.”

 

Slowly, Ruth’s ministry idea began to catch on at Young Meadows. Now, because of Rooftop Friends, church members and pastors are tutoring young special needs students, reconstructing homes to make them wheelchair accessible, taking meals to families of disabled individuals, and praying in the homes of those who are unable to physically attend church.

 

Since starting Rooftop Friends, the ministry has encountered innumerable successes in their endeavors. One of Ruth’s favorites is the story of Ginger and LaJessa (seen top left):

 

“A dear friend of mine, Ginger, has experienced the unbelievable heartache of losing a child to a drunk driver. She came to serve as one of our volunteers at our Hope Heals Camp, and the camper she was partnered with was a beautiful young lady named, LaJessa, who was born with cerebral palsy.  LaJessa has a smile that can light up any room, and even though her cerebral palsy causes her many challenges in life, she is always the encourager to everyone around her and never quits. The two of them hit it off right from the beginning. The second day of camp, after Ginger shared her story about her daughter, LaJessa looked at her and said, ‘I have been broken on the outside, but you have been broken on the inside.’ They are still very close today and continue to build up one another. That is exactly what we hope to see happen at Hope Heals Camps as we come alongside one another in our own stories of brokenness...finding hope that leads to healing in the midst of it.”

 

The Hope Heals Camp provides a time of rest and rejuvenation for families and caregivers of those with a disability. At this camp, attendees find encouragement from others who come along beside them in their own brokenness, just like Ginger and LaJessa. There are activities for the whole family as well as separate events for children and adults. Each disabled camper is partnered with a buddy (Compassionate Companion) for the week who will accompany them to different activities. The 2018 Hope Heals Camps will be held June 17-22 and June 24-29. To sign up or for information, please go to hopehealscamp.org.

 

While the Rooftop Friends family camp in Montgomery is thriving, Ruth hopes that it will continue to be a venue for incredible things to happen for people with disabilities. Ruth wants this ministry to grow so that churches throughout the state can connect with families affected by disabilities. Respite care, counseling and job development, and a health and wellness facility are also all dreams for the future of Rooftop Friends.

 

On December 9, 2017, Rooftop Friends is hosting a Christmas Shopping Extravaganza, a respite event during which those with special needs will shop with a buddy to buy Christmas gifts for their families. This event will be at Young Meadows Presbyterian Church, and volunteers are needed. To learn more about Rooftop Friends and how to become a volunteer, visit www.rooftopfriends.org.

 

A Florida native, Ashley Sherlock moved to Montgomery to pursue a degree in English. She now coordinates events at an independent bookstore in Thomasville, Georgia. She loves Jesus, books, the outdoors, and all things whimsical.

 

 

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