Joni and Friends. God Made Me Unique: Helping Children See Value in Every Person. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2019. 32 pages.
The statistics are staggering and saddening. Not many churches are known for being autism and special needs friendly. Some churches, although they may not say it, see families and children with special needs as an obstacle to ministry, not an opportunity for ministry. This must change! Churches need to see the value of every unique individual and family that comes through their doors. That is what makes me excited for Joni and Friends’ new resource, God Made Me Unique: Helping Children See Value in Every Person.
A Special Story
With a foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada and the story written by Chonda Ralston, the scene is appropriately set in a children’s class on a Sunday morning at church. The colorful illustrations by Trish Mahoney will invite the children’s attention. Written in rhyme, the story introduces a new kid to the class who has special needs. This gives the teacher, Ms. Campbell, the opportunity to share about special needs, how some disabilities are clear and others are not as evident. Wyatt plays with a toy to help him focus and keep his hands to himself. Jamal is in a wheelchair but is included in activities because “we should never exclude based on a disability”. Along the way, the children learn in passages like Psalm 139 God made each of them with great care and disabilities are not germs but a part of creation. The lesson reminds each kid their value as 1 Corinthians 12 highlights “Every member has value and a part to play”.
A Significant Lesson
There is no way to state the significance of the story of God Made Me Unique. This is as much a book for the church as it is for children. Church leaders should read this book to see the value of all people, particularly special needs children, in their congregations. Children’s Bible teachers should glean from this resource how they can be more sensitive and strategic in their lessons. All adults would do well to read the back section of the book titled “Four Ways to Help Your Child Understand Disability as Part of God’s Plan”. Children are invited to ask questions and gain an understanding on what disability means and how it can be used to serve and minister. If you know a special needs child who could use the encouragement that God has created and gifted them with value, then check out this book. If you know a church leader who could benefit and learn how to better shepherd as a result of this book, then consider getting them God Made Me Unique. It is of the utmost value!
I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.