Not only for the unchurched
John is a 62 year old gentleman with an intellectual disability and he lives in a group home in Richmond.
18 months ago, his carers began to bring him to Jesus Club Castle Hill after noticing his habit of carrying around a Bible and praying aloud for everyone at the home. Even though the trip takes 1.5 hours in total, his carers say John chooses Jesus Club as his fortnightly activity every time.
While John likes Jesus Club, he is not always cooperative when he arrives. Quiet and anxious, he is often reluctant to join in for music or games. But as soon as it’s Bible time, John becomes animated and eagerly moves to the front to listen. Julie, the coordinator at Jesus Club Castle Hill, describes him like this,
“He doesn’t like the craft, doesn’t like the painting. But he LOVES the bible teaching time and go happily to a buddy group. He is listening and he knows the answers!”
Like many who come to Jesus Club Castle Hill, Julie believes John is from a Christian family. This high proportion of Christian members used to conflict with Julie's evangelical vision for the club, but she is now resolute in her belief of the value of this ministry,
"While two thirds of those who come are children whose parents are Christians, it is a worthy ministry as it's helping kids and adults [from these families] from falling away.
[When you] see so many of their children walk away [from God] as teenagers and young adults, [it's good] we are helping these people [stay] at church.”
Because of Jesus Club, John and many others with intellectual disabilities, now have a place to go for Christian fellowships, and to grow in their knowledge and trust in God.
Furthermore, Jesus Club has opened opportunities to witness to people who otherwise might never set foot in a church. At a recent meeting, John’s carer commented to Julie as they were leaving, “I wouldn’t even mind staying past this shift time. I would be happy to stay.”
Though she wasn’t a Christian, the carer had loved the atmosphere at Jesus Club and would willingly stay past her shift unpaid just to be a part of the action.
And this is all part of the Jesus Club's charm, that through witness and love, clubs are paving the way to share God's good news to people with and without disabilities; church and unchurched.