Sharing Jesus with a Child with Down Syndrome, Part 1
Because October is both ADHD and Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Making Us Whole will focus on addressing concerns and raising awareness of both of these disabilities. Regardless of your connection with ADHD or Down syndrome, we hope that these posts will leave you more informed about the unique joys and struggles families touched by either of these disabilities encounter.
I introduce myself differently to people, depending on who they are. If they are friends of my son, I’ll let them know “I am Jim’s mom” or if I’m giving a tour at Zeeland Christian School, I introduce myself as a special education teacher at the school. I think most people adjust the information they share with another person as they introduce themselves so that the other individual will have a way to best know and understand you.
As I consider introducing people to Jesus, particularly children with Down syndrome, perhaps something similar applies. For one individual, we may ask “Do you want to give your heart to Jesus?”, but if that person interprets information literally, that might be a very scary question. For another individual, we may talk about repentance and sin, but if the vocabulary is difficult, those words will have little meaning. If we talk about Jesus and only ever show a visual of a cross, how will that individual know that Jesus is a person – not two pieces of wood that look like a lowercase t?
I have spoken with many parents and friends of children with Down syndrome who want to know if their child is saved. While I completely believe that salvation is a gift from God, and that HE is the one who makes those connections, I do believe that we are called to create environments where we can introduce the love of our lives – Jesus Christ – to our children.
Here are a few ideas as you delight in making this introduction of the Savior of your life to that dear child:
- Relax. Trust God’s promises. Remember, salvation is a gift from God – you are asked to create an environment and make the introduction. Leave the rest in God’s hand.
- Digest your own relationship with Jesus. Sometimes our connection with Jesus is bathed in so many idioms and figures of speech, it’s important to truly think about who Jesus is to me. Is He my best friend? Do I talk to Him each day? Do I consider what He has done for me regularly? Savior, Lord, King…How “daily” is my relationship with Jesus? It’s tough to introduce someone else to Him if I am not fully acquainted with Jesus myself.
- Know the child with Down syndrome. What delights this child? Animals? Trains? Hugs? Music? A particular person? If you could think of this child’s favorite activity, what would it be?
Stay tuned later this week for even more ideas for sharing Jesus with a child with Down syndrome.
Barbara J. Newman
Church and School Consultant
Barbara J. Newman (1962-2020) was the Director of Church Services at All Belong. For over 30 years, she endeavored to create communities of inclusion through All Belong. Co-administrating the inclusion program at Zeeland Christian School allowed her to stay on top of best practices which she shared at schools and churches nationwide and in her books and practical resources, including Autism and Your Church, Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities, the Inclusion Awareness Kit, Nuts & Bolts of Inclusive Education, and her latest title, Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship.