The Island of Disability

  • July 18, 2016
  • #8926

The mother of a disabled daughter felt isolated until she and her daughter were welcomed by the church.

The Island of Disability

Hi, I’m Joni Ereckson Tada with a story that will move your heart.

Shauna Amuck was like any other young mother, excited about growing a family. But then when she was pregnant with their third child, she got the news: her unborn baby had chromosomal abnormalities and would be born disabled. When the day Sarah was finally born, there was so much fear, fear of the unknown and fear of the disability. How would Shauna and her family deal with all of this? They didn’t know anyone who had a child with a disability, and here they were embarking on this new “adventure” all alone. The Mick’s friends were wonderful and loved them, but they didn’t know what to say or really how to relate.

For two long years, Shauna felt so isolated, so alone. She described it as living on the ‘island of disability.’ Then, one day Shauna was invited to a Joni and Friends’ Mom’s Morning Out at a local church. Suddenly Shauna was surrounded by other mothers who understood her isolation and loneliness for them, too, had once struggled with the same thing. But now, these special needs moms had found each other. No more was it an island of disability. Shauna was connected. She found community; she found other women who understood her fear and dismay. For the last two years, Shauna and her family have been searching for a church who also understood, and now, they finally found one.

And boy, did they jump in. On the first Sunday morning after services, Shauna went downstairs to pick up Sarah. She was greeted by the Sunday school teacher who said, with tears in her eyes, “We love Sarah. And if you want to come back next week, we will have a buddy waiting for her.” Shauna was stunned. Never had anyone responded to her disabled daughter in such a way. When they returned the following Sunday, Sarah’s buddy was not some ten-year-old kid they had bribed with a candy bar. No, Sarah’s buddy was a forty-year-old woman who, during her personal prayer time, felt the call to be Sarah’s friend. Shauna was astounded. Obviously this church, this body of Christ, saw Sarah as an equal member of the body. Just the way Scripture describes. They understand her gifts, her strengths, and what she brings to the body. And as we have seen time and again, when Sarah’s not at church, and when others with disabilities like Sarah are not at church, the congregation is not complete.

Scripture says that we are to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. In disability ministry, you don’t have to lay down your life. Just lay down an hour a week to be a buddy to a child with a disability. That’s something you can do! And the return on that small investment is so eternal. All you have to do is ask Shauna. By the way, after Shauna’s experience at that Mom’s Morning Out, after being embraced by that church, Shauna felt the call to help other mothers of special-needs kids; help them find a way off their island of disability. And for the last 5 years, Shauna has been serving as our area director for our Joni and Friends in New England. Now this mother is training other churches to reach families like hers. Shauna is amazing, and I’d love for you to see for yourself. Today I’ve posted a wonderful video of Shauna sharing the story of Sarah and how her daughter changed her family’s life. If you would like to see it, just go to my radio page at and share that video with your Face book friends!

It will inspire you to get engaged and perhaps become a buddy to a disabled person at your church. I invite you to visit

© Joni and Friends


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