Shepherds is a residential facility for the mentally disabled in Union Grove, WI. Just this morning I was praying that this institution would make a kingdom impact with the gospel. Later this morning I received a tweet from Shepherds — yes they are on twitter — sharing the article from Mission News Network I have pasted below. Don’t worry I emailed Mission Network News and they said I could do this. Please read this; it is remarkable.
Blessings to you all,
PS: Our daughter Erin is a resident at Shepherds.
USA (MNN) ― Shepherd’s Ministries believes developmentally disabled people have a role to play in the Great Commission. That’s why Director of spiritual life Paul Von Tobel recently took four guys to the Students Equipped to Minister to Peers (SEMP) conference at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
“At Shepherds, we really believe that people with developmental disabilities are created for a purpose, and so we want them to live on purpose. There’s no greater purpose than the Great Commission,” Von Tobel explained.
From July 6-11, the group attended personal evangelism classes in the mornings and spent the afternoons witnessing on the streets of Chicago. They learned to open conversations by asking questions and to be up front about why they were there and what they were doing.
This training helped the guys from Shepherd’s to be effective, as did the testimonies they had written out before they came to Chicago. God also used them effectively as they were taught to incorporate prayer into their witnessing conversations.
“Before we ended a conversation with anybody, we asked them if we could pray for them,” Von Tobel explained. “The guys are true prayer warriors, and so that was a great opportunity for them to minister.”
They went out to witness in a group with other conference attendees, called a “pod group.” Within the group, each person went out to witness with a partner.
“What really made it work was that each guy was paired up with a witnessing partner,” Von Tobel explained. “That witnessing partner really was able to help with the conversation, making it natural. It was great to see the teamwork and the dynamics with the youth that the guys were paired up with.”
One day, the group was traveling back and forth on the L’s brown line, witnessing to people in different cars. One of the guys from Shepherd’s, Sean Burdett, and his partner, Stephanie, got into a conversation with a girl in one car.
The girl “grew up in the church, but had a lot of questions for her youth pastor, and she didn’t feel like her questions were satisfactorily answered,” Von Tobel explained. “So she walked away from the church and really walked away from the faith. And they found out that she’s really searching for the truth and doesn’t really know what she believes.”
Sean took the opportunity to share his testimony with the girl.
“After Sean got done, the girl said that she really appreciated his attitude, his positive attitude, and how it was just huge encouragement to her,” Von Tobel related.
Sean was thankful for the opportunity to share his faith.
“The greatest thing is the Great Commission–to go and share the Gospel,” said Sean. “The Bible says that we are to make disciples of all nations. We should make disciples in our communities and in our workplaces. And I’m really thankful that I have the privilege to go on this trip.”
Shepherd’s Ministries is committed to helping people like Sean reach their God-given potential, and that includes utilizing their abilities to share the Gospel.
“I think that God has specifically created those with developmental disabilities to reach others with disabilities,” Von Tobel said. “They’re the best ones to reach their peers, their friends, their coworkers, or the people that they’re around at Special Olympics. That is their purpose; God has given them that purpose. And we need to be equipping them, raising them up, and giving them the opportunity to share Christ.”