Serving Others By Building Bridges

Shar Kobb says her career chose her. Then it turned into a ministry where now she serves the developmentally disabled in her hometown and in Romania.

It started back when she was a teenager babysitting for a family with a special needs son. She recalls teaching him the song, “This little light of mine,” and telling him about Jesus. Years later, this young boy, now a man, remembered her and the song.

“First of all I didn’t recognize him. I was amazed that the visual stimuli would prompt that song,” says Kobb.

What she saw in that moment was his worth to God.

“Even through that little teaching, he could understand the things of God. That wasn’t substantial teaching, but it had substantial meaning in his life, otherwise he wouldn’t be singing it.”

Kobb, a recent Bethel Master of Ministries graduate and current Master of Arts in Theological Studies student has worked with the developmentally disabled as a career and ministry for 30 years.

 

Her Service in the Work Place

In the early 80s she worked in group homes while working on her undergraduate degree at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

A decade later she worked for the Logan Center in South Bend, Ind., as a caseworker. One story she shared brought tears to her eyes.

She recalls a young man who was having some problems in his group home and just problems in general with life. While working with him, she developed a friendship and talked with him about Jesus. Years later he and his sister showed up at her church, Clay United Methodist.

“I sat in our sanctuary and I thought he has come so far. It’s not all about his physical and emotional needs being met, but about his spiritual needs as well. I was the spiritual vehicle that God used for his life.”

Kobb added that it felt really good that this man remembered their discussions from years ago. She was also glad to pick up her friendship with him again, but in a different setting — church.

 

Her Service in Local Ministry

Several years ago, Kobb and three others formed a group at their church called, “Bridges.” Funded by the United Methodist Church Northern Indiana Conference, it was developed for families with children who could no longer be integrated into a regular Sunday school class. The group’s purpose would be to build a bridge between the developmentally disabled and the regular congregation.

While the small group of six to eight children hasn’t grown into a large group, those involved have grown deeper in their walk with Christ. Kobb shared one success story where one young man found his place in the church as an usher. She says it proves that everyone has a purpose in the congregation.

The group meets once a month, and recently “Bridges” took a trip to the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Ind.

“It’s a fun thing to do and springboard back into the story of creation and talk about how God made us all different,” says Kobb. “So often we don’t see that sacred worth when we see people who are different than we are. We sometimes look at people through the world’s eyes rather than through God’s eyes.”

 

Her Service in International Ministry

In 2006 Kobb took a trip to Romania to work with special-needs children and teach others how to minister to them as well. She recently took a second trip, ministering in the same area.

She believes that once we surrender completely to God, he chooses where he wants us to serve others, even if it’s halfway around the world. In addition, Kobb says she stands on the Word in Acts 1:8.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." NIV

“We need to be witnesses in our home, state, nation and world,” says Kobb.

She feels her responsibility is to help those with special needs develop spiritually. Where she does that depends on where the Lord sends her.

Whether Kobb is halfway around the world in Romania or right here in Michiana, she says her service to those with special needs is not just a responsibility, but a gift that God gives to her to share with others.

“Seeing transformation, knowing it’s not me, but God using me. It’s amazing. I know that I’m where God wants me.”

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