by Shirley Elosh, God’s Choice Ministry, Director
It never ceases to amaze me how filled with joy these folks are. Their joy is contagious! After a great time of fellowship over a meal, their only concern is worshipping our Lord. No one speaks when someone is praying. With attentive ears and hearts, they listen to the message. Since I became involved with God’s Choice, I cannot begin to count the number of ways I have been blessed.
– Pastor Leroy Netting on the God’s Choice Church at Aliquippa FMC, PA – one of ten locations
God’s Choice is for all people but has a focused call to those with mental, emotional and physical special needs or disabilities. Worship may look different than a traditional church service; it usually includes a meal, worship time, a Bible lesson and a craft. Worship is held in an area that accommodates the activities and the wheelchairs present. Individuals with special needs may serve on the worship or planning teams.
Launched in 2010 at the First FMC, East Liverpool, OH, God’s Choice today celebrates 10 locations, with other sites on the horizon. Stories from nearly every location tell how special needs communities have been blessed by God moving in the lives of volunteers, group home staff and the special folks who now have opportunity to discover and use their talents to serve others.
One volunteer, Debbie, agrees, “Being a part of God’s Choice has allowed me to be the hands of Jesus, reaching out to share His love.”
Pastor Steve Forsythe, who serves at First FMC, shares, “God has used this new movement to reignite a passion within the heart of First Church to return to their 120 year roots of planting churches, reaching the disenfranchised, and having the courage to reach the lost.”
I am blessed to be the originator of God’s Choice, but it has gone far beyond my dreams. The lives of family members who had been disconnected from church family have been transformed. Intrigued by what God’s Choice stands for, they volunteered and reconnected, often also becoming part of a “typical” Sunday church and family. Caregivers are being blessed and changed by bringing loved ones to services. The love God shows us in each service is extending outward like ripples from a pebble dropped into a pond.
Pastor Leroy sums up, “The service, though it may not be what one is accustomed to, is full of the love of Jesus. His Spirit is so present at each service. The Bible lessons are relevant to what is going on with the worshippers. I have never once doubted that this is a vital ministry of the Pittsburgh Conference. I pray each church in our conference would consider having God’s Choice be a part of its ministry. I promise, you will be blessed beyond measure!”