Helping Families Living with Disability Find Their Place in Church

RIDGELAND, MS — Did you know that there is an unreached people group in your neighborhood? Only 5-10% of the world’s disabled population are effectively reached with the Gospel. That makes people with disabilities one of the largest unreached people groups in the world!

For Joshua and his mother, a welcoming church in Ridgeland, Mississippi made all the difference. Their church has included them and treated their family as indispensable parts of the body of Christ, created in God’s image.

Joni and Friends helps churches of all sizes identify and remove barriers that impact people living with disabilities. Churches like Pear Orchard are bringing all of us one step closer to a world where every person with a disability finds their place within the body of Christ.

Marie Johnson:

My name is Marie. This is my son Joshua Richardson. I started working here part-time in the nursery. Another family dropped their son off at the nursery and his name was Joshua with Down Syndrome also and I mentioned ‘I have a son with Down Syndrome also who name is Joshua.’

I started bringing him and as time grew on Joshua would always called Pear Orchard his church because they were so open with him and included him.

Pastor Carl KalberkampAssociate Pastor Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church:

The ministry of Joni and Friends helps us to see that those with special needs are the largest unreached people group certainly in the United States perhaps even in the world. Our church was very much unaware of that and that’s become very important for us in terms of our whole sense of what good ministry and what good mission looks like.

So having a disability ministry here at our church has had a significant impact on many, many different things. I think of the things it’s done is helped all of us as believers in our midst to recognize our own brokenness more deeply, to realize that brokenness appears in so many different ways and that it needs to be addressed. And that there is so much commonality between all of us and between all of us and those with special needs.


It’s hard to put in words. I’m getting kind of emotional just thinking about it. Since we’ve been here, he’s been included in a lot of things that he probably would not have if he was somewhere else. I’m just so thankful that we have this experience and people have embraced us with love.

Joshua Richardson:

I have an amazing mom and good parents and I love this church.

Read more news on Faith Based / Non Profit Organizations, Disability, Christian Ministry and Compassion Services on Missions Box.

About Joni and Friends

For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit

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