Young people around the world —thousands of them— are hearing the message of God's love for them from a trusted friend in Young Life. It’s a fantastic organization that believes in the power of presence. Kids’ lives are dramatically impacted when adults come alongside them, sharing God’s love.
Since I am the mom of a child with disabilities, I am especially grateful to know Carly is now old enough to participate in Young Life (which starts at 14 years old) because these wonderful folks are intentional about reaching out to her in special needs as well. While all Young Life activities are open to every kid, many cities have dedicated programs for kids and young adults with disabilities, typically referred to as Young Life Capernaum Ministries.
I had the opportunity interview Tasha Myrah of Capernaum Greater Minneapolis. It’s my privilege to introduce our readers today and our prayer that you will get connected and/or tell someone else who would be blessed to experience this worldwide ministry.
WRIM: Tell us about your ministry — its mission, the primary ways it is serving the community, the ministry schedule.
Tasha: Young Life Capernaum is a non-profit Christian ministry devoted to serving the needs of youth with physical and developmental disabilities. We believe that young people with disabilities have the right to experience all of life's opportunities such as: fulfilling friendships, fun and adventure, activities that build self-esteem and challenge their limits, and the right to explore a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We reach teens through bi-weekly "club" events, camp experiences, and most importantly leader interaction. We have over 20 leaders that are committed to meeting our teens where they're at and walking through life with them.
WRIM: What drew you to disability ministry?
Tasha: When Capernaum goes to camp, we do one-on-one leader-kid pairings, which means that we typically need a few extra people outside of our leadership team. I found out about the opportunity to go to camp as a buddy and it literally changed my life. I didn't have any prior experience working with people with disabilities, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I could tell after that week that God had something bigger for me here. At the time I had been in the corporate world and over the next few years I went from camp buddy to leader to part-time staff to being able to be work for Capernaum full-time. I'm not sure I can put my finger on exactly what drew me in. I just absolutely fell in love with the kids and how real they were. The kind of people you get to work with in this population is like no other, and I'm so thankful that God led me and my family into this.
WRIM: How has God used your experiences in disability ministry to shape you as a person?
Tasha: As I eluded to above, it has completely changed me. My husband and I started leading when we were dating, and I can't imagine how different our lives would be without Capernaum. My entire world-view is different now and my eyes have been opened to the purpose of my life. My family has been so blessed by the kids and parents involved in Capernaum. My 18 month old has had the joy of having kids, their parents, and leaders that love spending time with her. I am thankful for the opportunity to raise her around these friends. I would say overall, working in this ministry has just made my faith stronger and my definition of friendship and community change in a great way.
WRIM: What is one hope/dream you have for the future of disability ministry locally or globally?
Tasha: I would love if some day Capernaum didn't need to exist. I pray for a time that every kid, no matter their ability level, would have a place in the church. That families could go and be part of the body without having to fight for programs that accommodate their kids. Some churches do a great job of this, but I hear so many stories from parents that break my heart about how they weren't accepted at their church so just stopped going.
WRIM: What is one recent way/story that demonstrates God’s presence and power in the lives of someone being served through your organization?
Tasha: I actually just got an email yesterday from a mom telling me about how her son, who has down syndrome, always talks the whole drive home about the club talk we gave that night, and also brings up talks from camp and asks what his parents think and believe. I was shocked because this is a kid that I've maybe heard say 20 words in the 3 years he's been coming to club. I love how God speaks to our kids in ways that we don't know, and that our job is just to trust Him in that.
WRIM: Based on the challenges associated with this type of ministry, how would you like people to be praying for you or your organization?
Tasha: I would say our biggest ongoing prayer is for more people who feel called to lead with Capernaum to do so. The commitment of our leadership team is really what sets Capernaum apart, and we really can only reach as many kids well as the number of leaders we have. Another prayer would be for parents to find out about the ministry. Most of how people find out is word-of-mouth. I know there are a TON of kids in the metro that don't know about Capernaum, and I just pray that people that need to hear about it would somehow.
Our thanks to Tasha for sharing her inspiring story and helping us learn about the opportunities! Remember friends, Young Life is worldwide so go here and find a group near you where you can serve and/or help a young person get involved!