In the spirit of Matthew 5:16, we’re sharing examples of people who live their faith.
Ben Stern loves being around his sister. The siblings discuss sports and their jobs and spend quality time together with Ben’s three children. Ben was never embarrassed to have his little sister around when he was growing up but would invite her to join in his and his friends’ activities.
Amanda Stern has down syndrome, but it’s not what defines her relationship with her brother.
“I don’t think of my sister as having a disability,” Ben, a chemistry teacher at Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Appleton, Wis., remarks. “I think of her as my sister.”
From the age of 12, Stern has been involved in a community program called Sibshops that connects siblings of individuals who have disabilities. Sibshops, offered by the organization WisconSibs, provides educational components but primarily focuses on creating community and sponsoring fun events. The organization also allows opportunities to ask questions about specific disabilities or long-term illnesses and to grow in understanding each person.
“Being able to bond with other siblings and see them have fun with each other helps to normalize everyone’s situation and see everyone for who they actually are,” Stern says. “I continually see the impact that this has on people’s lives.”
Stern started out as a member of WisconSibs and eventually served on the Board of Directors and the program committee. He sees the organization as a way that God has used him to serve others. It was also a motivating factor in him becoming a teacher.
“It helped me realize that I want to help people in my career,” Stern says. “That was God’s direction in my life. It gave me an opportunity to be the hands of Christ and show his love.”
The Special Needs Family Network
Is your family looking for Christian resources, support, and encouragement as it cares for a child with special needs? The Special Needs Family Network, coordinated by WELS Special Ministries, offers resources and parent mentoring. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Author: Gabriella Moline
Volume 105, Number 12
Issue: December 2018
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