Thanks be to the Lord for how generously He has gifted Martie Kwasny and used her as a minister in my personal life and as a faithful servant to our congregation. For the past twelve years, the Lord has used Martie and the rest of the Kwasny clan (and there are enough of them to qualify as a “clan”) at Pear Orchard to establish His Kingdom by, among many other things, spreading His Gospel of love to the marginalized and oft forgotten community of those affected by disability. Through her passionate efforts in founding and leading the Sonbeams Ministry, the Gospel has been made accessible for many, who because of physical or mental barriers, rarely have the opportunity to be immersed in corporate worship or the community of believers. I would be seriously remiss if I stepped into this role without properly recognizing her dedication to establishing and nurturing the Sonbeams Ministry at Pear Orchard.
Michael Beates, author of Disability and the Gospel said the following: We live in a culture that avoids, rejects, and hides weakness and brokenness. Disability reminds us of what we wish (and try desperately) to deny—that we are all disabled in some sense, whether it is spiritual, emotional, relational, or physical. Our friends who live with outward physical disability cannot hide their brokenness as easily or as successfully as the “normal” population. I tell people that the gift my daughter brings to the church is her presence. Her simply being among God’s people reminds us that before God we are all deeply and profoundly needy people and God’s grace is rich for us when we embrace this truth. This is her gift to the church.
Martie truly gets this, and the Lord has made it her mission to spread this understanding in the church. She understands what a gift these families, touched by disability, are for the church, and what a gift the church should be for them. I’m certain at times she felt like Mt. Everest was in front of her. Disability ministry can be disheartening, exhausting, discouraging, and isolating. Yet she persevered. The Lord used Martie to build Sonbeams from the ground up, which was no simple feat. Starting from a need being presented 12 years ago by an elder who had a child with special needs, Sonbeams has matured into a robust ministry that now provides many respite events a year, a VBS serving adults and inclusion children, a system that ensures all are hearing the Word of God on Sundays, a Wednesday night bible study, Christmas deliveries to our families touched by disability, and many other opportunities. Please join me in thanking Martie for her 12 years of dedication to establishing this ministry and her continued service to the Kingdom as the full-time Director of Joni and Friends Jackson.
Morgan Vitart, Sonbeams Director