Why do we choose to focus our ministry within the Disability Community? One of the main reasons is that Daniel, whom the camp is named after and who had a disability himself, had a vision and dream to impact the disability community. That vision spread to his parents and siblings, and then, over time, to all those who have been involved with the ministry for the past 20 years.
Here are some of the reasons Daniel passionately pursued, and why we continue to pursue, ministry within the Disability Community.
Christian Community Living: At the time Daniel was a young adult; there typically had only institutional settings with no community structure. Group homes have developed over the last several decades, however today most lack Christian values and tend to focus on the individual instead of creating community and family within the home. For these reasons, Camp Daniel has sought to provide living options that would create an environment founded on Christian principles.
Summer Camp: Summer camp played an important role in Daniel’s life. It was where he first felt called into ministry and learned about God’s plan for his life. It was camp for people with disabilities, which helped Daniel see his value and of others with disabilities. This was also where Little Tony truly experienced what a real relationship with Christ meant. It was from this experience that he felt called to pursue Christian camping for individual with disabilities. Traditionally, camps around the nation lack a Christian component. Camp Daniel has sought to provide an atmosphere of fun, family like summer camp opportunity that would instill value to campers and counselors alike, sharing the love of Jesus and his gospel.
The Able Church: After about ten years of doing summer camp, it became evident that there was need for a church centered within the Disability Community. Traditionally, campers would have a wonderful week at camp, growing stronger in their relationship with God. For many, it was their first encounter with the love of Christ. Then, when they returned home, they typically would not be connected in their local church and would not have any spiritual connection for the next year until they returned to camp. There are several reasons for the lack of connection to a local church The biggest reason is that campers didn’t have a ride or someone in their life to make sure they get to church. If they did get to church, they often found it hard to connect and fit in. Church communities typically have not valued persons with disabilities presence to make sure they are present or thought through ways they may have an active role in a church community. The service itself typically is designed for highly educated individuals, making it difficult for individuals with intellectual disabilities to understand and apply the message of the gospel.
For these reasons, Camp Daniel sought to create church centered in the disability community. The church is a place where all are welcomed and valued. It is a place where relationships are fostered and spiritual growth can happen on a weekly basis. Members activity participate within the Church, using gifts that God has given them. Furthermore, there are opportunities to learn biblical teachings in a simplistic and real way.
Those are some reasons specifically why we focus our ministry in those three areas. As a bigger picture, there are several other reasons why we do what we do. In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands us to “Go into all the world. Preach the good news to everyone.” This included people with disabilities, who are often overlooked by the church. We believe that God has made us, loves us, and has a plan for our lives. This includes all of us. Much of the disability community does not believe this. They are often told that they are a mistake, a result of sin, and that they are not a part of God’s perfect plan.
In John 13:34- 35, Jesus says, “If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.” If we want the world to know the love of Jesus, we need to love. Within Camp Daniel, there is a love like no other. People are captivated by and drawn to it. They experience the love of Jesus like never before.
If you have been compelled to share in this mandate, there are many ways you can team up with us. Bring a group to camp for a workday, host an Able small group in your area, visit your local group homes, participate individually or as a group in our summer camp season. Please inquire how you can get involved at firstname.lastname@example.org