Raising a child with autism is extremely difficult; even impossible! There are times when my heart is overwhelmed with sorrow and feels the same as Asaph’s did long ago:
“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” – Psalm 77:7-9
But over and over again as I come to Him and sincerely spill out such feelings and thoughts, He ends up encouraging me, comforting me, filling me with his peace, joy, love… He is so good and knows exactly what He’s doing. I just need to trust Him and rest in Him.
Every year we host a 5-day retreat for families, like ours, affected by disabilities. We just had our eighth one a few weeks ago. It was extremely hard, but at the same time indescribably wonderful! Our main motive in organizing such gatherings is to reach out to families with the love of Christ, introducing them to the One that can save them and sustain them in the midst of their impossible circumstances. This year our main speaker, Pastor Chip Bell from Dallas, went through the 23rd Psalm with the parents, most of which are non-Christian, emphasizing how in Him we “lack nothing, fear nothing”- words of hope for such desperate, broken people. The kids had a blast with so many fun activities, music, dancing…
One lady named Maria, with a young autistic son, came up to me as I was handing my wife some pills for her headache and said:
“What is that you’re giving your wife? Are you guys all on something? Can I have some, too? You are all so different, happy, content! I’ve never seen such people before in my life! It’s like you’re from another planet or something! My own relatives barely look at my child, and you, strangers, actually play with him, have fun, take care of him. It’s overwhelming!”
“It’s just headache medication,” I answered. “Jesus is the one that makes us different, gives us joy, strength… not drugs. He can change you, too…”
But the retreat wasn’t without challenges, difficulties, complications… A few days before arriving at the hotel in the mountains, we still lacked $3,000 and didn’t know how we were going to pay. (Fortunately, after sending an S.O.S. out to you all, we collected over $4,000. We’ll be able to use the extra funds for the next retreat. Thank you so much!)
On the first day, as we were welcoming the families one child, with multiple disabilities, ran into a glass door, completely shattering it and cutting himself with deep cuts on his legs and arms. He was transferred to a nearby hospital with his mother where they had to knock him out with full anesthetics to operate, stitching up the wounds.
The hotel staff was terribly rude, uncaring, even discriminate towards the families. Something we didn’t experience last year at the same location.
Almost all of us had some kind of stomach problems, diarrhea, vomiting… while there. Then after the retreat one of the boys went to the doctor and discovered he had picked up some kind of Salmonella! Many of us are being tested to see if anyone else got it.
So, as Charles Dickens would say - “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” One volunteer that has been to many of these retreats actually said, “You know, this was probably the hardest, most challenging retreat I have ever been to, but probably the most blessed.”
So, once again God is the winner! Praise to Him for his great deeds! His power is made perfect in weakness. Thank you for your prayers and support for this incredible event. Every time we have one, we get a little glimpse of why God gave us a sweet girl named Hana with autism. Somehow it all makes perfect sense.
“Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” – Psalm 77:13,14