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Supporting People Living With Special Needs and Disabilities ~ Connecting people, Changing lives…

ASNA in the Netherlands

ASNA MAKING THE GOSPEL ACCESSIBLE IN THE NETHERLANDS [Sophia Nicholls] The invitation to run a 10 hour series of Disability Ministries training seminars and workshops in the Netherlands came as a pleasant surprise. Pastor Guisele Berkel, a pastor in the Netherlands Union and also a parent of a young child with Down's Syndrome called in January 2012 to say, "We are organising our biannual Great Commission Festival from 16 - 20 May in the Netherlands Union Conference grounds with the theme 'Making God Feelable, Visible, Grabbable'. We want ASNA to come and share your story." So it was that three members from the ASNA team, Sophia Nicholls, Pastor Patrick Johnson and Karen Weekes shared their experiences and examples of good practice, provided theological underpinning to the ministry and gave practical ideas and solutions to supporting people with disability in the life of the church and community as well as empowering the delegation to work towards inclusive churches. Pastor Rudy Dingjan, Church Growth, Global Mission, Music Ministries, and Personal Evangelism director of the Netherlands Union and convenor of the festival expressed how keen he is to see the ministry for people with disability develop in the Netherlands. In his prayer for the team and the charity, Pastor Dingjan prayed that the ministry would be a light to those in the community. Brenda Elizabeth, a minister's wife was keen to understand how to work through stereotypes and cultural barriers. She expressed how she learnt the importance of developing 'healing churches' where people are supported towards an understanding that God's love is for all and that we should not be looking to cure the body but provide an environment where we can all feel God's healing grace and love within our soul. Rita Graus was excited to learn "practical ideas and solutions to supporting people with disabilities." Sylvia Nyenhuis, a newly baptised member gave a wonderful testimony: "I can now understand why my mother, ill for many years and often in pain, would always be happy and would often quote that the Lord was her Shepherd and she had no wants. Since my baptism, I can say the same." Sylvia is now planning to learn sign language. "For a long time, I have been wondering what I could do to support people in the community. You have given me a great idea." Octavio Brown elder at the Rotterdam church and Elizabeth Sealey head deaconess also at Rotterdam were keen to get started. Both members expressed how much they had learnt during the seminars and workshops to support people with disabilities and special needs and could identify opportunities for making a difference in their home church. Sophia Nicholls, co-founder and trustee of ASNA says, "I can truly say, we have been blessed by this experience. Not only because we were able to share our ministry in the Netherlands but also learning new ideas for church planting and ministry for the UK." See slide show below for a glimpse of our time in the Netherlands. Thanks to Pastor Rudy and Pastor Guisele for all their hospitality and love.

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