Civil Engineer Aaron Karlas and family live near St. Louis, in Edwardsville, IL. He is the Vice President at Feezor Engineering of Greater St. Louis. (See www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-karlas-8b0a4478)
Having time with the Karlas family is a delightful experience for Joan and me! It is a joy to watch this fine family grow and to “blossom” … as laypeople … in their calling to minister to special needs children.
The family was impacted by close friends who are parents of disabled children. The two families spent much time together. The Karlas’s would care for their friends special needs children so their parents could have “breaks” from their 24/7 responsibilities.
They joined others in providing parties for these and other special needs children!
A most moving aspect of this Karlas spiritual journey: the needs of others can serve as the means through which we receive a call from God to serve. They saw, up close and personal, that these special children had needs. Indeed, basic needs of these special children served as a means of God calling the Karlas’s to help. They could not ignore the words of Jesus … found in Matthew 25: 31 – 46, referring to Jesus’ return: “The King will say to them, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40)
When the special needs children and their family moved away, it left a vacuum that needed to be filled. Parties and other services for area special needs children – especially on the east (Illinois) side — were still there, but the “one to one” experience was reduced.
The Karlas’ calling from God to serve in this way was very compelling, very real. The parents … Aaron, husband, and father … and Diane, wife, and mother… listened to God … and led the way for their four children, who also have become an important part of their lay ministry. (I say, “lay ministry,” because they serve as volunteers, it is not source of income.)
As a part of their growing in these desires, two different recent summers the family spent time at Camp Barnabas in Southern Missouri, which is devoted to special needs children (www.campbarnabas.org — (417) 476-2565). Their experience at the Camp was consistent with the family’s rather recent burning desire and love for ministering to special needs children continued to clarify and grow!
The Camp Barnabas experience was sizable and awesome to the Karlas’s 2019 summer – 1,650 campers; 400 volunteers; 175 summer staff members; and a medical staff of 183!
From the Camp’s website: www.campbarnabas.org:
“Camp Barnabas is a unique ministry providing Christian camping experiences to individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses, along with their siblings. Whether you are a camper, or serving as a part of a mission trip, we provide ministry and social experiences that increase spiritual knowledge, social learning, and human dignity. Our goal is to show others the love of Christ in every aspect of our ministry.”
(I, HHH, first became aware of Camp Barnabas when famed National Football League St. Louis Rams Quarterback, Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and Jesus-follower Kurt Warner was a contestant on the NBC Network TV Game show “Wheel of Fortunate,” with all of his “winnings” going to benefit Camp Barnabas. He and wife Brenda have a special needs child.)
Aaron “burst into tears!”
The vision and calling of the family deepened and expanded. Aaron Karlas told of the emotional time in his drive down Illinois highway 4 toward the site of one of his civil engineer projects for his work, he took the opportunity to respond to the David Hendrick family invitation to visit Cornerstone Farms (www.cstonefarms.com), having learned that one of the Cornerstone ministry “prongs” was to love, care for, and minister to special children.
Aaron reported that he “burst into tears” as he pulled into the Cornerstone property! He was momentarily overcome with joy that Cornerstone could provide such an attractive location for his family’s burden to “love on” and help in any way precious special needs children.
Joan and I have a warm place in our hearts for the Karlas’s. To me, they exemplify the difference and quality of life that Jesus can bring to a family. They have two exceptionally fine teen-age sons … Grant and Luke. And the boys’ roles in the family include being a big part of caring for their adopted younger sisters, Olivia from South Korea, and Audrey from China.
And the “climate” in the family finds it important to emphasize to each of the girls their ethnicity. Olivia knows that she is South Korean, and Audrey knows that she is Chinese. They know that they were “picked out,” motivated by love, to be full members of the Karlas family!
A reference to Aaron’s professional life can be seen at www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-karlas-8b0a4478/.)
A related radio link … on how God used the disabled …
To hear … “DOUG MAZZA: TWO HORRIFIC DISABLING EVENTS RESULTED IN ONE GREAT & EXPANDED MINISTRY TO THE DISABLED! … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2017/03/06/doug-mazza-two-horrific-disabling-events-resulted-one-great-expanded-ministry-disabled/