God Made Me Unique – Joni and Friends

God Made Me Unique Joni and Friends
God Made Me Unique: Helping Children See Value in Every Person by Chonda Ralston, Joni Eareckson Tada, Trish Mahoney
Series: God Made Me #2
Published by New Growth Press on August 19, 2019
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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five-stars

God Made Me Unique helps parents and caregivers teach children that God creates every person in the image of God and each individual has tremendous value, regardless of his or her appearance or abilities. The story is set in a classroom where a new student is introduced who has a disability and his classmates learn to ask questions and gain an understanding about their new friend. This book will help eliminate fear and misconceptions about those who have special needs and emphasizes that every person deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. The back of the book has additional information and resources to equip parents to talk with their children about this important subject.

There aren’t enough superlatives to adequately express my overwhelming joy at God Made Me Unique and its view of disability, particularly within a church context. As a pastor, I’ve often been disappointed in how the church (mine and the church at large) has been ill-equipped and trained in caring and loving members and visitors—particularly children—with disabilities.

This is in everything from ADA compliant accessibility to seeing disability ministry as ministry “with” instead of ministry “to.” There is a tendency to see those with disabilities as less-than, rather than seeing their unique value to God. There is also a tendency to be silent about these differences and not talk about them.

God Made Me Unique is targeted toward children but, if we’re to be honest with ourselves, the lessons learned here are ones we would all benefit from. The story revolves around a Sunday School teacher preparing her class for a new student named Brie, who has special needs. The teacher talks about different kinds of special needs and talks about how God made every person with a unique part to play in his Kingdom.

These twin topics work perfectly together. Not only will children be made aware of different types of special needs, but they’ll come to understand how God wants everyone to play a part in his church:

“No service at church is too big or too small. We want everyone here. God uses us all.”

This book is more than just destigmatizing special needs—which is a need in its own right—but goes further into teaching that we should empower those with special needs to find and be successful in the place God has put them. They are just as capable of ministering and leading and having their own voice, which is something the church all too often forgets.

God Made Me Unique is a much-needed book and should be on the shelves of churches everywhere. It is a needed discussion at every level and age, not just children, and should be part of larger initiatives in the church to create a welcoming and empowering environment for brothers and sisters with special needs.

five-stars