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Summary: Jesus said to Martha, "There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it..." What’s the One Thing? Includes illustration of Jason, a young man in special education that changed the life of his teacher. "Welcome, friend

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Title: What’s the One Thing? 09/03/06 West Side

Text: Luke 10:38-42 A.M. Service

Purpose: A Labor Day message dealing with how we should “Be Still” before the Lord

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Introduction:

Jason’s Praying Pencils

How a student gave his teacher a special education

by Hugh Chapman1 (See Footnote)

I was an hour-and-a-half into my new teaching career when I saw him at the other end of the hallway. He was the reason I almost didn’t take the job; before long, he became the reason I stayed.

Though I had never met Jason Banning before, I knew his situation. He was a 13-year-old special needs seventh-grader who had been confined to a wheelchair virtually all his life.

As Izard County (Arkansas) Consolidated School’s newest special education teacher, I was hired to teach Jason and attend to his personal needs. He had medicines that needed to be administered and diapers that needed to be changed twice a day; odd tasks for a man who had made a habit of fleeing his own kids at medicine and diaper-changing time.

My educational certification is in business, but there had been no positions available in that area. Special education was the only job open. It wouldn’t be easy: I would have to go back to school during summers and evenings to be certified in special ed. But because my own kids were in the school system, I wanted very much to be involved.

So I stood at my end of the hall, watching Jason being pushed toward me by his friend Delbert. I whispered a quiet prayer. "God, please help me with this." I expected an angry child, resentful of the life he had been dealt.

More than a student

As I watched him, I had to admit that he had every right to be angry. Jason had spina bifida, a congenital defect of the vertebrae. He had already undergone a dozen surgeries and his family anticipated more. He was being cared for, full time, by elderly grandparents.

His prognosis was poor. I remember seeing Jason at the school’s sixth grade graduation. His grandmother had invited the entire family and had ordered balloons and flowers for the event. She wanted the celebration to be special for Jason, because, as she later explained, it might be the only graduation he would ever see.

Yet if Jason was bitter, I saw no sign of it that day. Wheeling up to me in the school hallway, Jason realized who I was. Holding out both arms in greeting, he said, "Welcome, friend. It’s good to see you."

Though it took us a while to adjust to each other and our new surroundings, we eventually settled in. During our conversations, Jason often shared his heart. He told me he had attended church for as long as he could remember, and a couple of years before he had given his life to Jesus. Someday he hoped to become a preacher.

Prayer in the school

One time my first year, when his 80-year-old grandfather was ill, Jason asked me to pray with him. Not wanting to jeopardize my future, I was reluctant. Tactfully I explained that our government had regulations about teachers and students praying together on school grounds. Jason seemed to understand.


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