“I will pour out my spirit on all humanity (Acts 2:17 HCSB)."
When I was in college, I had a friend named Mike. Due to severe Cerebral Palsy, Mike was confined to a wheelchair. I remember helping Mike feed himself, and even go to the bathroom. Mike’s speech was unclear, but if you took the time to listen to him, you discovered that Mike was working on yet another college degree, and that he was an ordained minister. Mike was what many people called “disabled,” but God had a purpose for his life.
Truthfully, every one of us has special needs. You may have an emotional disorder, a physical impairment, or a mental disability, or just plain old Spiritual Deficit Disorder. Yes, each one of us is a sinner in need of a savior. Each one of us has special needs, and we need God’s Spirit to meet our needs.
On the day of Pentecost, Jewish worshippers from around the world were gathered in Jerusalem for a religious festival. Due to disuse, many of them no longer had Hebrew as a language that unified them with their people. Think of the linguistic and social special needs that these people had! They were alienated, even among their own people. And they needed God’s Spirit to meet their needs.
As the Christian believers were praying, the Holy Spirit filled the apostles with Divine presence, miraculously gifting them with the ability to preach in languages they themselves had never learned (Acts 2:1-4). If we are going to minister to people with special needs, we are going to need to be similarly filled with God’s Holy Spirit. We need to be open to do things that seem strange, so God can work through us.
Many thought the apostles were drunken babblers, but Peter’s response was to correct their misconceptions, and declare that what they were seeing was the fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:15). This is our job as believers, to correct misconceptions regarding people with special needs, so that everyone can understand them clearly.
We must recognize that God has a plan for everybody. Acts 2:21 says that whoever (read that “anybody at all who”) calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Beyond salvation is service. Verses 17-18 say that nobody is disqualified, whether they’re young or old, male or female, slave or free. Regardless of your special need, or your status in life, if you’re saved, you’re useful to God. Nobody can claim to be useless in God’s kingdom.
Finally, verses 19-20 show that God is a wonder-working God. “I will display wonders,” God says. The same can be true in your life, if you allow God to work in your heart. No matter what your special need is, the Spirit can meet your needs. Then God can use you to meet the needs of others.
Ever feel lost and useless? Disqualified? Never fear. God saves you, qualifies you, and makes you useful, no matter your special needs.