Krista Mason, member of Providence Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., gets to work at a miracle every day.
The site of Benjamin’s Hope in Holland, Mich.
That miracle is Benjamin’s Hope, a 40-acre rural campus in Holland Township, which will soon serve people with developmental disabilities and their families as early as late spring.
Ever since her son Ben, now 17, was diagnosed with autism at a young age, Mason has been dreaming of such a place for him to live, work, play, and worship. This seven-million-dollar dream-turned-reality will include residences for up to 24 adults, a farm, and an activity center/worship center.
Nurturing connections with the local community is one of Benjamin’s Hope’s unique emphases. “The intention is not to isolate people with disabilities from society. It’s a community itself and will encourage involvement from the broader community,” said Mark Stephenson, Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church.
Eventually 300 adults with special needs will participate each week in day programming with an agricultural emphasis, including vegetable gardening and caring for farm animals. It will also serve as a vocational outlet for the residents of the campus’s licensed group homes. Mason said, “Farming creates a natural fit for folks who have challenges with language.”
A joint CRC-Reformed Church in America church plant on campus will launch this spring and will be tailored for families who have children with disabilities. “There are folks who give up on church completely. That’s happened much too often,” said Stephenson. “This is going to be a church in which people with disabilities and their families are going to feel welcome.”
“We looked at this as ‘how do we create a place of grace where there is a place for unique expressions and sound and movement?’ That became a very critical part of the whole of this,” Mason said. “If we want to create something that helps families be strong from the time their toddler is diagnosed all the way through the journey, it has to have a church.”