Tag: special-needs ministry

For kings and queens with special needs, a Night to Shine

For kings and queens with special needs, a Night to Shine

Arkansas church rolls out the red carpet at prom-like event.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Crowns on their heads, the kings and queens flash huge smiles as they emerge from a sleek black limousine.

They wear fancy suits and formal dresses and seem to glide up the red carpet as the waiting crowd cheers.

The 150-plus royal guests pass under a lighted archway with the message “Night To Shine” flanked by the words “Hope” and “Dream.” Many pump fists in the air. Others simply glow.

The friendly paparazzi hold cameras and smartphones with one hand and wipe tears with the other — unable to contain a flood of emotions.

On this recent Friday night, more than 350 volunteers came together at the West-Ark Church of Christ to throw a giant party for God’s children with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs.

“This is a glimpse of the kingdom, that’s what it is,” said Chris Benjamin, preaching minister for the 700-member church. “You see the upside-down kingdom in action because those often overlooked are given special honor.”

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This story appears in the March 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Young man with autism has a heart for homeless

Young man with autism has a heart for homeless

California church member overcomes fears as he leads ministry that serves the needy.

Second Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press

By Bobby Ross Jr.  | The Christian Chronicle

CAMARILLO, Calif. — A few miles from the Camarillo Church of Christ, a man with a backpack and a bicycle squats at a busy intersection.

Chris Kibbe, who describes himself as between jobs and homeless, holds a cardboard sign.

“Spare a little kindness,” the handwritten message begs. “God bless.”

Not long ago, many members of the Camarillo church — which meets in a palm-tree-shaded building just off the Ventura Freeway — might have averted their eyes and driven right past Kibbe.

But now — thanks to a packet ministry started by Luke McAllister, a 20-year-old church member with autism — the congregation is equipped and eager to help.

“It’s easy to become blind to things,” preacher Alan Beard said. “But in the same way that if you have a watering can, you look for flowers to water — if you have a packet, you look for someone who’s thirsty or needs a quick meal or a couple of dollars.”

“Luke’s Packet Ministry” offers snacks, cash — and hope — to downtrodden souls.

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This story appears in the September 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.