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The Wounded Healer - Henri J. M. Nouwen

One of our greatest callings is to serve one another in Christ-like love. And one of the most beautiful expressions of that love is to truly "hold" one another in Christ, to walk alongside them, and to affirm the work and calling of Christ in them.

Such is the holy calling of the navigator. We are managing lots and lots of details and moving parts to develop, launch and curate the platform that is Pathways. But at the very heart of the process is the navigator-volunteer relationship. Having our ears attuned to the whispers of the Spirit, our hearts softened by the love of Jesus, and our minds guided by the gift of discernment are all essential to stewarding these holy moments well.

The author Henri Nouwen had just such a strong sense for the personal nature of ministry that he walked away from huge audiences and acclaim and chose to walk alongside people (in his case, those with disabilities) in consistent and personal ways.

The quote below captures just how deeply meaningful and impactful that work can be: showing "personal concern" for one another. This passage from his book The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society reminds us of the power of being fully present to one another.

   The great illusion of leadership is to think that people can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there. Our lives are filled with examples which tell us that leadership asks for understanding and that understanding requires sharing. So long as we define leadership in terms of preventing or establishing precedents, or in terms of being responsible for some kind of abstract “general good,” we have forgotten that no God can save us except a suffering God, and that no man can lead his people except the man who is crushed by its sins. Personal concern means making Mr. Harrison [a 48-year old patient in the hospital who is about to have a life-threatening surgery and is afraid to die] the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forget my many other obligations, my scheduled appointments and long-prepared meetings, not because they are not important but because they lose their urgency in the face of Mr. Harrison’s agony. Personal concern makes it possible to experience that going after the “lost sheep” is really a service to all those who are alone.
   Many will put their trust in someone who went all the way out of concern for just one of them. The remark, “You really cared for us,” is often illustrated by stories demonstrating that forgetting the many for the sake of the one is a sign of true leadership.
   It is not just curiosity which makes people listen to a preacher when he speaks directly to a man and a woman whose marriage he blesses or to the children of the man whom he buries in the ground. They listen in the deep-seated hope that a personal concern might give the preacher words that carry beyond the ears of those whose joy or suffering he shares. Few listen to a sermon which is intended to be applicable to everyone, but most pay careful attention to words born out of concern for only a few.
   All this suggest that when one has the courage to enter where life is experienced as most unique and most private, one touches the soul of the community. The man who has spent many hours trying to understand, feel, and clarify the alienation and confusion of one of his fellow men might well be the best equipped to speak to the needs of the many, because all people are one at the well-spring of pain and joy.
   This is what Carl Rogers pointed out when he wrote: “I have found that the very feeling which has seems to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others. This has helped me to understand artists and poets who have dared to express the unique in themselves.” It indeed seems that the Christian leader is first of all the artist who can bind together many people by his courage in giving expression to his most personal concern.

Be Our Guest | The Story of Joy Prom

There is one magical night every year where individuals with all different abilities are able to come together and enjoy one of the most special nights of the year: prom night.

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Joy Prom Winston-Salem is a full-scale, annual prom for the special needs individuals in our community, welcoming guests ages 16+ with any physical, developmental, or intellectual "different” ability. It’s a night where differences are celebrated and everyone gets the opportunity to dress up and go out for an evening full of singing and dancing.

And it all started with two couples asking a simple question: “why not?”

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Donna Zayas had been driving to Concord, North Carolina for her son to participate in its Joy Prom. It was a good alternative to his high school’s prom: sensory friendly, full of individuals that had similar experiences. He enjoyed it so much that Donna started to consider what it would be like to have the same event in Winston Salem.

 

“I just saw people living out the Love of Christ,” Zayas said. “It was so powerful to watch so many people be celebrated.”

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One night Donna, her husband, and two of their friends sat down and started to talk about the impact Joy Prom could have on our local community. Through encouraging words and deep conversation, the couples arrived at the question “why not?”, and couldn’t find an answer. From that conversation, Zayas knew there was no going back; she had to bring this opportunity to her city.

Inspired by that conversation with friends, Zayas got in contact with her pastor at Reynolda Church and formed her core team. Love Out Loud was excited to stand by Zayas’ side and help connect her with a community eager to turn her vision into a reality. By 2015, less than a year after that conversation took place, Zayas and her team hosted Winston Salem’s first Joy Prom at First Assembly Christian School.

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Coming up this April 13, Joy Prom will celebrate its 4th year with the theme “Be Our Guest”. The amount of guests and community involvement has doubled in size since the prom began, with over 280 guests registered and over 400 community members signed up as volunteers.

There are a full spectrum of disabilities that are accommodated for at this event. Sign language interpreters will be available on sight for individuals who are non-verbal. Every area of the prom is wheelchair accessible. For individuals who are sensitive to sound, there is a designated quiet space. Volunteers are also trained to understand how different disabilities affect different individuals and how to best accommodate them ahead of time.

It’s a special opportunity for individuals with autism, down syndrome, physical disabilities, traumatic brain injuries to step out of their comfort zone in an area that is welcoming and accommodating for everyone. Guests enjoy a red carpet entrance, a "Glitz and Glamour" room, food, dancing, photo booths, Bingo, a craft, themed decorations and more. A Hospitality Suite is available for parents and caretakers that wish to join in the fun as well.

If you want to be a part of Joy Prom, we are still looking for male volunteers (and others!!) to escort the wonderful guests that have registered to attend prom. To volunteer, attend, or learn more, please visit their website at http://www.joypromwinstonsalem.org/

This blog written by Molly Flinchum, Love Out Loud in March 2018 - if you have any questions please email serve@loveoutloudws.com

 

Stories From Love Winston-Salem - Easton

"My favorite moment at Easton was when two young boys decided they'd do this (picture below) and laughed and smiled. For those of us who saw this, His great love was impressed on our day."

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"A momma who doesn't speak any English had brought four kids, all five and under. She heard about this and took a bus and walked 30 minutes. Her sandal had broken by the time she got to the school. She was sitting in the office speaking with a school admin, saying she couldn't make it home because her shoe was broken and she had a 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old with her. I went and got her a new pair of shoes and sock and gently put them on her feet. When I asked if she knew Jesus, her face lit up and I got to pray over their entire family. We met sooo many needs that day."

"My mother-in-law was blessed when she saw two boys with hygiene items with their new shoes on. The two boys were dancing around saying 'I got my own toothbrush!!'"

 

See the story by Kim Underwood of WSFCS HERE.