Autistic daughter inspires ministry
By Ron Sandison
Paul Miller is the bestselling author of The Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World and Love Walked Among Us published by NavPress. He is also the Executive Director of See Jesus, a global discipleship ministry which he founded in 1999 to help people grow spiritually by Christ’s example. In 1982, Paul and his wife Jill’s sixth child Kimberly was born. Unlike his other children at a young age it became apparent that Kimberly was behind in her developmental milestones. She was also nonverbal. Kimberly would awaken at 4:30 am and pace the halls. Her sensory issues caused her to bite her wrists raw. Instead of becoming frustrated Paul decided to pray and keep positive.
Parents can have either negative or positive responses towards a diagnosis of autism in their child. An example of a negative response – “My son breaks everything; I can no longer handle the meltdowns or emotional outbursts.” Positive – “Whatever could be broken got broken a long time ago. We will learn to deal with our child’s meltdowns and love her unconditionally.” Fixing the child is the illness (or medical) model; acceptance is the identity model. Paul and Jill chose to parent their daughter using the acceptance model.
After four months of praying for Kimberly’s late night pacing, Paul and his family moved into a new home and her pacing ceased. Jill and Paul would later learn that the diesel trucks at the factory across the street from their old house and other road sounds were waking Kim. The new home was far from the road and less noisy. God answered the Miller’s prayer. Paul shared, “I learned through this incident that God can use Kim for His glory and speak to our family through her.”
Kim taught her family humility and patience. “I learned to lean on God for wisdom in raising Kim. She saved our family by teaching us to depend on God and pray. Kim is the inspiration behind our ministry See Jesus,” Paul replied. Kim has also taught her family new ways to experience love.
First, love through compassion. Kim has helped Paul and Jill to see individuals with disabilities as children of God. As Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).
Second, love through actions. Kimberly’s autism created a desire in the Miller’s family to help those with disabilities as Jesus would. Five of their children now work full-time in their ministry.
Third, love through awareness. Be sensitive to others needs. As Philippians 2:4 states, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Fourth, love through joy. Kim has inspired her family to experience joy in the simple things in life, like her love for Disney and horseback riding. Every year Kim saves her money to travel to the Magic Kingdom. As Nehemiah 8:10 says, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Lastly, love through grace. Practice patience. Do not allow meltdowns or sensory issues to steal your peace. Instead focus on prayer and ask God for help. As the apostle Paul states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Kimberly currently lives in an apartment at her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. She communicates through electronic devises and works as a dog walker. Paul encourages employers, “Give people with autism a chance. They are faithful workers and extremely loyal.”
See Jesus Website: https://www.seejesus.net
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. Ron has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org