Houston’s First members Robbie and Connie Schilhab volunteer with our special needs ministry, Thru the Roof, about one Sunday a month. They have continued to encourage the special needs families during this season in which Houston’s First family gathers online instead of in-person.
Connie (Nanna) and Robbie (Pops) create videos with a personal touch to each for their four grandkids, including Mia and Ben who also happen to be part of Thru the Roof. Others who saw the videos asked the Schilhabs to create a YouTube channel. So, the couple created the “Chronicles of Nanna and Pops” channel not just to share with their grandkids but with others, as well — like their Thru the Roof family — during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Everyone’s lives and routines have been turned upside down,” Connie says. “We thought seeing familiar faces through these videos for our kiddos might encourage them and their parents."
The videos vary in content, include different props, and they incorporate teaching in some of their videos as well.
“There are some videos of us singing silly songs, Pops pretending to fish and falling into the pool, and me twirling a baton. Most of the things we do aren’t well-rehearsed but ad-libbed,” Connie explains. “For example, we were out in the yard planting some shrubs and we saw these baby oak trees. I told Pops, ‘Hey, I have an idea for a video.’ Hence the “oak tree” video is made with a little teaching. We also have the “joy bucket” video where we teach that joy really comes from Jesus."
The couple has seen God move as they create and share these videos.
“We’ve had texts from people with pictures of their kids watching the YouTube videos, saying it was a blessing and helpful while all this is going on,” Connie says. “One staff member told us his little one had been sick and crying solid for a couple days and that the videos had been an answer to prayer. They were the only thing that consoled his child."
“We’ve seen so much positive reaction from families who view these that we’ve begun sharing specific videos with children of missionaries serving in the field much to their parent’s delight,” Robbie adds.
Celebrating Easter online was a unique challenge for our church family, but the Schillabs were able to make the day a special one for special needs families.
"As I was thinking of an Easter video for Thru the Roof, I had a little idea with plastic Easter eggs but there was not one in my house,” Connie explains, “so I got to share with a couple of neighbors what type of video we were doing as they shared their plastic eggs and they were happy to help. Sometimes we just say, ‘Lord, I need a little direction here! Show us how to do this.’ God moves our heart to laughter, joy, and hope. That’s what we’re thanking Him for doing!"
Minister to Special Needs Families Daniel Williams explains the impact the videos have had on the ministry.
“The videos have been a huge hit with our kids and their parents. Connie and Robbie have volunteered with Thru the Roof for years and are deeply loved,” says Daniel. “They bring so much joy and serve with passion these families who are desperate to be loved. They embody what it means to be a Difference Maker!”