Why Corran is a Gift to Our Youth Ministry


By Shawn Kiger

corranA year ago I began planning for our first Haiti mission trip. I had a feeling Corran, who at the time was a middle school boy, would want to sign up and go because he wants to go on every trip. Corran loves youth group, church, and especially mission trips. If we are going somewhere, most likely Corran will be going with us.

One other thing about Corran, other than that he is a typical squirrely middle schooler: he has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair.

One of the unique things about our youth group is that we have several teenagers with special needs. In the 17 years I have been in youth ministry–only the last two at my new church—I’ve never encountered this number of special needs youth in one group.  I have learned (and still have a lot to learn) over the past couple years how to make accommodations for Corran and others in youth group and on trips.  But a trip to Haiti concerned me a little.  I knew nothing would be wheelchair accessible and it would be tough to get around. But he has great parents and his father said he would go along so that Corran could go.

While in Haiti we served at a home for disabled girls and helped with construction of a new home. Everyday Corran went to the home to hang out with the girls and their leaders.  They all sat around the table and did crafts and played games. What started off as awkward because of the language barrier and not knowing what to say soon turned to Corran entertaining the whole group. The Haitian girls loved Corran! They had never seen an American with disabilities like they had.

One day the girls asked him if it was ok to ask him questions. He loves to talk and be the center of attention so he was happy to answer any questions they had. One of them asked him if he ever got discouraged because of his disability. He immediately said no. He went on to say he doesn’t get discouraged because he has great parents to take care of him, and a great church where all of his friends in the youth group are willing to include him and help him when needed. Then Corran told the girls that we would be there for them and that God was always with them so they didn’t need to be discouraged either. That moment was a kingdom of God moment that everyone could feel.  He was bringing hope, maybe just for a moment, to a group of girls that had none.

I was nervous about taking Corran to Haiti because of what I thought he wouldn’t be able to do. But what I relearned that day is that God calls all of us, including a squirrely middle school boy in a wheelchair, to reach out and to serve those most vulnerable amongst us.