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Mailbag

Issue: "Life is not a party," Oct. 3, 1998

Religious education

Educating children is a religious endeavor ("What will it take to get School-to-Work?" Sept. 5). Moses said, "Teach your children these things," referring to the Ten Commandments' philosophical definition of truth and reality. There is a good creator who designed human life for meaning and purpose.
The false assumption that public education can be philosophically neutral leaves public education defenseless against special interests and disguised ideologies, many of which were included under the education umbrella called "Goals 2000/ School-to-Work." Here in Oregon the dishonest education "reform" agenda shows these results: Local media and business leaders uncritically parrot education department propaganda, test scores are stagnant, and teachers are afraid to speak up. Thanks for your comprehensive article. - Sharon Roy, Silverton, Ore.

Precious, but not an angel

I really appreciated the article "Entertaining angels" (Sept. 5). I think Barbara Curtis did an excellent job informing us of the struggles and the joys of a family with special-needs children. The church and Christian schools can learn a lot from this article. In fact, I plan to send out a number of copies to people I know.
I hope we remember there is a distinct difference between people and angels. With books on angels, angel gift items, and TV programs about angels, we need to remember that people do not become angels, as taught in It's a Wonderful Life and Touched by an Angel. Angels are created asexual beings to minister to those who are redeemed. People will never become angels and angels do not become people. Even though this child with Down Syndrome was a precious gift, he was not an angel. - Don Jabaay, Cedar, Iowa

They need Christ, too

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As a mother of six children (four with Down Syndrome) I could understand the lack of love and compassion Mrs. Curtis had experienced within the church. That has, heartbreakingly, been our experience also. Once our boys were older than toddlers, there was no one in the church that wanted to take the time and effort to help them one-on-one in a Sunday school class. I've often been told that I could teach a class for special-needs kids. (I homeschool all week; that's all I needed.)
Children, teenagers, and adults with Down Syndrome need to be included in the body life of the church not because they are "angels unaware" but because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They need to be encouraged in the Word; they need to worship the Lord and fellowship with other believers. Please don't allow people to idealize the disabled. They are people who need Jesus, their family, and the church. - J.S., Valinda, Calif.

Compassion, but ...

My heart goes out to Barbara Curtis. I thank God that he blessed Jonathan with such a wonderful mother. Still, I feel the need to address some of the points she made. She said her church made her feel isolated, but she admits they "brought gifts and meals, entertained our kids, and spent hours in prayer." What more could they have done?
One of her statements floored me: "While public school kids have for years been learning to accept and feel comfortable with special-needs kids...." Would you please tell that to my son, whose public-school experience included being surrounded by taunt-chanting children, being poked with sticks, having his belongings destroyed, and having rocks thrown at him because of his speech difficulties. It wasn't until I transferred my son to a Christian school that he began to make friends and find acceptance from his peers.
Finally, she states, "Christian schools have refused to face their responsibilities to provide for the education of children like Jonathan." It would be lovely if more Christian schools were able to provide for children like Jonathan, but they have no responsibility to do so. I remember the day the principal of my son's Christian school and I realized together that they really didn't have the resources to help him properly. She was kind and warm, and she sincerely wanted to help me, but she couldn't. At that moment I realized the responsibility for my son's education and well-being was mine. It was a liberating realization, and with the help of God and the wonderful support of my Christian brothers and sisters, we began our homeschooling adventure. - Laura Bauman, Woodstock, Ill.

Reach out

Thank you for "Entertaining angels." We too are parents of "special-needs" children. Ours are not physically handicapped. We received them through the foster care system. They have been removed from their birth parents and suffer some emotional damage. For over a year we struggled with one boy, who went back to his "state of origin" last week because he couldn't function in our family. The Christians in our church had no idea of what we continue to go through. We, like your author, found help outside the Christian community and are still being criticized for it. I would hope that pastors and Christian brothers and sisters would find a way to reach out to parents of special-needs children and their families. I thank God for our adopted children and that God has also adopted me. - William M. Betts, Oconto, Wis.

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