My son has a ministry to people who hang out in the back of the room during our Sunday Morning service. Our church meets either in a community center theater or a gym, depending on the week. Josh prefers the gym as there is more space for him to walk around in circles as he enjoys the musical worship. Josh is so happy and in his element when he is experiencing the music of the worship band (and congregation singing) at church. In fact there are a few other autistic kids in our church who do odd but sweet things during the worship service at our church. I think that most people have gotten used to their (mostly happy) noises. Some have even told me that they are blessed by watching Josh experience God.
Josh has an aide most weeks, in case he gets overwhelmed or needs to walk around outside. This past week, his aide told me a memorable and unusual story. After walking in circles for a while, Josh noticed a man sitting on the floor by the door and decided to go sit in his lap. The man was a bit startled so Josh got back up and resumed his solitary little dance. Later, after the service, the man approached Josh and interacted with him a bit. He told the woman who was his aide that morning that he was very touched by Josh's initiative, by who Josh is and by how he was experiencing God. Apparently, this man is homeless and is currently living in his truck. Before his life took some difficult turns, he was married to a woman who was related to a child with Aspergers Syndrome (a diagnosis which is on the autism spectrum). Although he no longer related to this child since his divorce, the connection seemed to stir up deep memories for him. He shared some more about his life with the woman who was Josh's aide that week then thanked her for listening. "I guess I just needed to talk," he said. He told her that he would see her (and Josh) next week again at church.
I've often wondered what the purpose is to Joshua's life. He will not contribute to this world by being a lawyer, an academic or a doctor (the three options that most Asian-Americans are encouraged to consider). He will not make a lot of money. He will not offer insights, wisdom or interpretations to his community. What he will do, however, is to have very simple but human connections with people and, hopefully, will touch them with who he is. In this way, I believe that God has a good and useful plan for his life. I feel honored to get to be a part of that.