by Alisa Ginyard, Reality parent & volunteer
Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.
And that thou bidst me come to thee. O Lamb of God, I come…
That’s the hymn that came into my heart as I contemplated and prayed about how to explain our experience here at Reality Ministries. I can say that this is a unique place and that is true; but it’s impossible to capture love and shape it into words. Love just is. You can see it and feel it but you can’t always explain it.
I remember the day my family first walked into Reality Ministries about 2 1/2 years ago. We met staff who let us know that whatever we were bringing into those walls was just fine. Although I felt the need to go on and on expressing concerns over my son’s inability to control certain behaviors (that we refer to as meltdowns), they made it clear that he was more than accepted and was already loved. They have made the decision to receive unconditionally, to befriend and to love people who are facing realities many might consider unbearable.
Our son David is an animator and cartoonist and he’s pretty amazing at his craft. He loves a good audience for his ‘toons. He’s also a wordsmith who uses words to give his characters dimension and life. But this is only when his mind is not be overwhelmed with extreme anxieties, which make him anti-social and occasionally even a danger to himself. David is 25 years old and he is Autistic.
At the onset of his teenage years David began to develop tantrum-like behaviors that kept us out of public places as a family for many years. A trip to the mall would become a nightmare, and our church at the time (though they taught others around the nation how to minister to children and adults with special needs) suggested that we start streaming sermons from home. This was heartbreaking, and although it left us feeling discouraged, we actually understood.
When we came to Reality Ministries and David had a few episodes, we waited for the inevitable suggestion that he was perhaps not the right fit for the program. This didn’t happen. And after close to 3 years it still hasn’t happened. This attitude extends beyond the staff and volunteers to participants loving, accepting and supporting each other. I have watched David’s friends here reach out to comfort him and encourage him in the most compassionate and understanding ways.
At Reality we found a community that loves my son the way that his dad and I and God love him. They see him. They say to those who come to their doors, “Whatever it is, however it is, just come. Do you lack money for fees? Just come.” The answer is always, “Just come; God will work out the details.” I give as much of my time as possible to Reality; I plan to do this for as long as I have breath because they have offered a place of acceptance to my son for as long as he has breath. And that is priceless to my family.
We have found hope here.