By Shannon Baker
COLUMBIA, Md.—The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, in partnership with Joni and Friends, will host the conference: “Include Like Jesus: Christ’s Call to Serve Families with Special Needs,” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 1 at South Columbia Baptist Church (8814 Guilford Road, Columbia, Md. 21046). The conference is designed to equip church leaders, parents and ministry volunteers to minister to families and individuals affected by disabilities.
Featured speakers include Shauna Amick, Tom Stolle, and Christopher Duffley.
Amick is the director of Joni and Friends New England, a regional outreach of Joni Eareckson Tada’s international ministry. Amick is a national speaker, author of several articles and an advocate for people with disabilities and the sanctity of life. She and her husband, Steve, have three children, one with Down syndrome.
Tom Stolle is the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network’s Chief Financial Officer, overseeing finance, accounting, and budgeting as well the director of the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware, and he serves as the Network’s human resource director. Stolle additionally ministers with churches, assisting in the areas of finance, taxes and stewardship. He and his wife, Shelley, have three sons. Their youngest son, Jimmy, is a child with autism.
Through Stolle’s journey, God has given him a passion to help churches develop effective special needs ministries.
Fourteen-year-old Christopher Duffley was a guest at the Network’s annual celebration in November, sharing in music and testimony. Adopted by his biological aunt, and her husband, Stephen, Christopher was born blind and has autism. Defying the odds, Christopher demonstrated surprising musical ability at an early age. With the love and support of his family, his singing career began 4 years ago when a YouTube video of him singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart” went viral. Since then he has traveled far and wide, sharing his talent, his story, and his faith in God through his incredible gift of singing. His first CD, Eyes of My Heart, is a compilation of inspirational, patriotic, and sacred songs, and his second CD, Believer, was released this past August.