by Jayna Richardson
Moms who have children with disabilities often carry heavy burdens. The physical fatigue, discouragement, and anxiety about the future can weigh a family down. However, FamilyLife leaders Mekka and Yulia Malabaev of Kazakhstan also know that in Christ, these moms can find joy and celebrate the victories and milestones as they depend on the Lord’s grace and sufficiency.
Mekka and Yulia began feeling a burden for parents of special-needs children years ago. Through a partnership with Young Life Capernaum, they helped organize family and relationship seminars and volunteered at a “Mom’s Club” that invited mothers with kids of various physical and mental disabilities to meet together regularly to share their joys and frustrations and be encouraged by the gospel.
These meetings led to the organizing of a summer camp for moms and special-needs children this past summer. The children ranged in age from ten to sixteen and live with disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, musculoskeletal disorders, and more. Thirty-six mothers attended with their children, and every child had an assigned volunteer, bringing the total camp attendance to just over a hundred people.
“It was a special, unforgettable time,” says Yulia. She described the camp as a time for the moms to gain a new perspective on life and get to know Jesus. Most of these mothers are single parents due to the fathers leaving the family, so this was a rare opportunity for them to take a break from their constant role as caregivers and be refreshed and ministered to.
Each day began with prayer and a devotional, followed by morning activities and workshops designed to invigorate the moms both physically and spiritually. They also had the opportunity to participate in art therapy and spend time as a group sharing their hearts with one another.
Most of the mothers who attended the camp were not believers. A few Christian mothers of special-needs children were able to share their personal testimonies and encourage these women to find hope and restoration in Christ, and to love and pray for their families.
“I am so grateful for the time at the camp,” one mom wrote. “I realized that my son Arseniy is happy in his own world; he is happy to be the way he is, and I don’t need to try to change him to fit into our world and to fit my expectations. This is the most important thing I have realized, and now I feel as if a heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders!”
Another mom said, “Thank you for everything, and I praise our Lord for all of His mercies! The biggest, most valuable gift was opening my heart to meet God and His will.”
Mekka and Yulia pray that every mother and child at the camp experienced the Lord’s love and compassion. They rejoice that these precious families went home with a new sense of freedom through the power of Christ.