Sharing Jesus with a Child with Down Syndrome, Part 2

Earlier this week, Barbara J. Newman introduced us to a few tips for sharing the love of Jesus with a person with Down syndrome (if you missed it, read it here). She will continue with some fun & helpful ideas for sharing your faith. 

Be creative. How can you use the areas love and interest we brainstormed earlier this week to make the introduction? While the possibilities are endless, here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

  • Church Drama TeamMake a photo album. Put in a photo of Jesus and then pictures of you doing things with Him and for Him. Share this with your child often and explain how Jesus gotto be your best friend and your Savior. Perhaps as your child develops that relationship, he can have his own photo album to share. Some images you could include in the album:
    • Raising your hands as you sing to give him a hug,
    • Kneeling beside your bed to talk to him each night
    • Reading the Bible and learning all about His life
    • Hugging a sad person because Jesus asked you to do that for Him
  • Does your teen enjoy playing Capture the Flag? Put out one of the jail bases and the middle line that separates the two teams. In the Jesus capture the flag, we all get sent to jail for the things we do that make God sad (sin).  Jesus is the only way out of “jail”. When we say, “Jesus I love you. I don’t want to stay in this sin jail. I’m sorry”, Jesus comes to tag us and give us a free walk back to His team. Once we are on the Jesus team, we always get to stay on that team.
  • The Easter Book imageFind a Bible or Bible story at the interest level of your child. Read the salvation story, watch it on a video, act it out with wooden figures or puppets, or discover some iPad applications that help your child interact with the story. Make sure you treat this story differently than any other on your shelf. Treasure the book or item in front of your child. Let them know it’s the very best book ever – and it’s all true. Show the adoration and love you have for Jesus as you get ready to recreate that story of what Jesus did for us.

Keep the celebration going. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Friends at a CelebrationAs your child says “yes” to Jesus and to loving Him, remember the date. Let your child know that every year you will celebrate 2 birthdays – the day she was born in the hospital and then the day she was born with Jesus. This gives you a time each year to celebrate that relationship in a special way.
  • Use holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter as a chance for your child to think about getting Jesus a present. What might Jesus like? Sing a song that tells Jesus “I love you.” Make a video of your child dancing to a favorite worship song. Take a photo of your child and let her know that if Jesus had a refrigerator, this picture would be on it!

It’s my hope and prayer that this list of ideas will be a place to begin as you think of meaningful ways to introduce Jesus to your child. Remember, as God created each and every person, He also made each one able to connect and enter into a relationship with Him. I am encouraged daily by my students and friends with Down syndrome who have a vibrant and living relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Barbara J. Newman photoBarbara J. Newman is a church and school consultant for CLC Network and a special education teacher at Zeeland Christian School. She is the author of numerous books, including her latest, Nuts & Bolts of Inclusive Education. She is a frequent national speaker at educational conferences and churches. Contact Barbara at bnewman@clcnetwork.org.

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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, our hope is 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 lower case 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.

Person praying

Here are a few ideas as you delight in making this introduction of the Savior of your life to that dear child:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 photoBarbara J. Newman is a church and school consultant for CLC Network and a special education teacher at Zeeland Christian School. She is the author of numerous books, including her latest, Nuts & Bolts of Inclusive Education. She is a frequent national speaker at educational conferences and churches. Contact Barbara at bnewman@clcnetwork.org.