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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Thomas Carpenter
Aug. 18, 2013

Reaching the Disabled

Thomas Carpenter has been involved with Special Touch Ministry (Waupaca, Wis.) since 1999. On a summer night in 2007, Carpenter came up with the idea for an emergency response ministry for the disabled: STREAM — Special Touch Ready Emergency Assistance Mission. STREAM helps those who are suddenly disabled receive the immediate care, equipment and supplies they need and connects them with others who face similar disabilities. Carpenter and his wife, Angela, serve as STREAM directors. He recently talked with
Pentecostal Evangel intern Ian Richardson.

evangel: How did you first become involved with Special Touch Ministry?

THOMAS CARPENTER: Angela and I were children’s evangelists at the time. We went to a church where the pastor had a daughter with a disability, and the pastor and I became close friends. He later connected with Special Touch Ministry. One day, he asked me to be a speaker at a Special Touch getaway.

I was thinking of it as just another camp, but when I got there, I was blown away. I saw people with Down syndrome, internal head injuries, and other disabilities, and I realized the prejudices I had. When I began to see how disabled people can feel the presence of God and soak up the gospel like a sponge, I really got hooked on the fact they needed to feel the power of God in their lives.

evangel: What are the most pertinent needs in disability ministries today?

CARPENTER: The disabled make up the largest unreached people group in the world.

Of the 58 million disabled in America, only about 20 percent have ever been to a church at any time, so we bring the gospel to them. Also, it’s not just the person with the disability who is affected; it’s the family around them too. Disability can be a real stress factor for families, so we at Special Touch minister to the whole family.

evangel: You are working to plant Special Touch in other countries.

CARPENTER: It has just begun to mushroom. Special Touch needs to go international. This has been the mission these past 25 years, but now things are beginning to open up.

evangel: What is the main way working with Special Touch has inspired you?

CARPENTER: Special Touch Ministry has affected my whole family, especially in the way my children have received the call of God in their lives to always have special needs in their ministry. My children are not afraid of people with disabilities; they would go out of their way to embrace someone with special needs.

My 8-year-old son, Buck, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as two of our guests with cerebral palsy laid hands on him. That was August 2011. He was killed in a car wreck two months later. We have a very powerful video of those two young men praying for Buck.

evangel: How has Buck’s death impacted your ministry?

CARPENTER: Losing Buck has given me more motivation. I now put myself in others’ situations, asking, “What if my son had lived with a severe disability?” I think I have become more sensitive, and it has given me a sense of urgency.


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