Inclusive Ministries

Celebrating Our Youth and Their Ministry!

The following article was sent to me by Valerie Turner Williams.  It was published in the Monthly Communicator, a publication of the NJ Department of Human Services, Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The first time I was introduced to this group of youth from First Baptist Lincoln Gardens, Somerset, NJ was when I was invited to participate in their fundraising efforts for the Haitian Deaf Community in Haiti.  They held their first annual "Finger Singers of Faith Concert Featuring Sign Language and Dance."

The article below is being reprinted in hopes that you or your youth may be encouraged to reach out in ways you may not have thought of before to do ministry.

Finger Singers of Faith - First Place Winners

by Valerie Turner Williams

There was excitement in the air Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 and for a good reason.  The musical sign language group, The Finger Singers of Faith, won first place at the Youth Explosion! Talent Show Contest, presented by G.C.H. Productions, the 2012 Youth Explosion! Talent Show Contest  a Christian talent competition, took place at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, Somerset, NJ.  Teenagers from across the state of New Jersey presented their best talent.  Talent acts included singing  dancing, rapping and praise stepping  all praising God in song and dance.

The Finger Singers of Faith (FSOF), the only group using sign language in their talent, gave a unique performance at the talent show.  The Finger Singers combine sign language with dance and music to a Christian song medley entitle "Tribute to God: Michael Jackson Edition."  The FSOF unique talent act won the first place prize - $1000.00.

The four Finger Singer teens Atiya Gladden, Tyler Koon, Christian Raynes, Shawn Raynes, portrayed the '70's Jackson's singing group wearing bell bottom pants, afro hair and sequined vests.  The audience cheered as the group signed "The Jackson 5" and Michael Jackson songs.

Choreographed by Valerie Turner Williams and managed by Rene Raynes, the Finger Singers of Faith "too sign language to another level."

The Finger Singers of Faith all agree: "You don't have to be Deaf to appreciate music; you don't have to be hearing to enjoy sign language!"


Relationship and Disabilities


The following article is reprinted with permission from the author, Robert Naseef, Ph.D.

Just Appreciate Me

They've been standing on the brink of divorce for seven years, they had devoted themselves tirelessly to their son with autism. They were worn out; all the joy had left their lives despite their son having made dramatic progress. Their boy was included in a regular class with supports; something they never dreamed of.

Their marriage was another story. He thought she no longer cared about their marriage. She thought he never noticed and appreciated what she was doing for their children. They both agreed that their only interaction was about their disagreements. They decided to take a step back from ending their marriage and came back to my office where four years ago they had recovered from their initial devastated response to their son's diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

The tension they have been living with had become unbearable. They were tired and irritable with each other, but they said that they still loved each other. They decided to give it another shot. They had experienced many good years together, and they wanted to believe they could be happy with each other again. They wanted their children to live under the same roof with both of them, but they couldn't go on being miserable with each other.

With some guidance, and a neutral mediator, they began talking to each other more kindly. It made a difference. They began sharing responsibilities, and they were less volatile with each other. Nonetheless, Harry couldn't understand why Marianne was not returning his affection. Despite his efforts to repair the marriage, she just wasn't feeling it.

About a month ago, Marianne's aunt went into hospice care, so she took a three-day weekend to go from Philadelphia to Chicago to be there and say goodbye. Harry stepped up and took their boy to his weekly speech therapy expecting to return to his office after the session. Unfortunately, there was an emergency in the clinic which took time to resolve, and therefore Harry had to miss an important meeting at work. Filling in for his wife, full-time for three days seemed to lead to an epiphany.

When Marianne returned and they sat with me the next week for their couples' session, Harry spoke openly and honestly about how frustrated he had been taking care of everything by himself. He had gotten a glimpse of what his wife handles day in and day out in addition to her demanding job. He praised everything she had been doing for years including tolerating his irritability.

Marianne breathed a sigh of relief. She wiped a tear from her eye, and then put her hand in his. "I just wanted to be appreciated," she told him, "maybe now we can be closer again. I sure hope so." There was more work to be done in repairing their relationship, but they had turned the corner and began looking forward for the first time in years.

If you find this article helpful, please share with others through your social networks. A more in depth discussion of relationship issues appears in my new book, Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together, which will be released by Brookes Publishing next month.

Circle of 12 Mission, Inc.


The Circle of 12 is a public 501c3 charity, incorporated July 2008, dedicated to serving the children and young adults with special mental and physical needs who live in the Bateyes - the sugarcane work camps - of the Dominican Republic.  These children are the poorest of the poor.  They live without good access to healthcare, clean water, post-primary education, adequate food, and most importantly the proper care for their medical ailments.  The Circle of 12 is a group of concerned, charitable people and companies who want to see these children and their families live a better life; live to their fullest potential as human beings.  The monies raised provide food, basic medical care, and therapies.  On a case-by-case basis, we also provide services specific to a child's needs such as teaching Braille to a blind child, giving speech or occupational therapy to children with Cerebral Palsy and other afflictions, and in rare cases moving families to better housing.  The rent for the housing is paid in full by The Circle of 12.

Christopher at Cacata

The Circle of 12, Inc is a mission outreach of First Baptist Church, Moorestown.

The founder, Todd Moreland just returned from a Circle of 12 mission trip to the Dominican Republic.   For more information on The Circle of 12, Inc go to

Baptism and the Severely Disabled

"We must avoid any attempt to define limits and boundaries as to how much understanding is necessry for faith in God to be evident in a person's life.  Jesus accepted the praise of mere children..."  Janet Morel

I have noticed lately that there is a lot of talk regarding Baptism and the severely disabled.  More and more people with cognitive disabilities are becoming visible and actively engaged in their communities.  They are no longer living a life of obscurity and isolation.  The church is becoming more aware of the needs - spiritual, physical and social - of those folks in their community with disabilities.

To that end the church is realizing the need to reach out to the disabled in their community and welcoming the disabled into their midst.  Now the church finds itself needing to consider issues of the disabled, especially with regards to baptism and other sacraments within the church.

How does the church measure ones ability to understand the significance of baptism?  Perhaps a good indicator of an adult with disabilities' readiness for baptism is the church's ability to recognize and utilize that person's gift, rather than the individual's ability to make a reasoned confession of faith.  In order for the church to truly become the body of Christ in baptism, it is important to recognize that people with disabilities are central to the function and being of the church life.

In the end, in the diverseness that forms the body of Christ, the question we must ask ourselves is not whether, or under what circumstances we should baptize people with disabilities, but rather, can we be the body of Christ without them?

Can we truly be the church without the witness of their brokenness and the presence of their gifts?