He was ten years old - a really cute child with dark hair and a fabulous smile! Often when the other children at church participates in some active games or activities he would stand wistfully off to the side watching.
One night for a special activity an adult appeared in a really funny costume as part of the program for children's ministry. His eyes lit up and his smile almost split his face! When the leader asked if he would like to put on the costume and walk around for awhile, he jumped at the opportunity!
Another night we were studying Pilgrim's Progress in an interactive program. We had come to what John Bunyan calls "The Slough of Despond." We were attempting to bring this classic into a framework the kids could understand. Our "Slough of Despond" became the Pond of Green Slime.
The Pond of Green Slime was a kid's wading pool filled with cooked oatmeal, green food coloring and vegetable oil (to make it slimy)! Even though (just like with Bunyan's Slough) there were stepping stones around, not one single kid chose to take the path around. All chose to go thru the pond including the little girl wearing a black velvet dress and white tights! (All the other kids were in very casual clothes for this weeknight activity.) We tried to get her to at least take off the tights but she wouldn't.
They waded in one by one and crossed to the other side where Help assisted them in cleaning off their feet (again much like in Bunyan's tale). They ALL waded in BUT ONE! Once again he stood off to the side watching and obviously wishing. He came to me, looked up and I said, "Sweetie, I don't know if it would be a good idea for you to get in there with your braces." He assurred me he could go and didn't wait for my answer. He stepped right in the middle of the slimy oatmeal and walked with his "lurchy" walk to the other side braces and all!
I learned a very important lesson that night - inclusion means everything to every kid!
You may have guessed by now. My little friend has spina bifida. He couldn't walk like the other kids. He couldn't run around the bases in a softball game. BUT he could play volleyball AND he could go through the Pond of Green Slime and he did!
I think God smiled that night!