Technical training of astronauts is relatively rapid. A youth’s development into manhood is a far longer, and yes, far more awesome process.

It begins with God’s creation of a life. It continues with the birth of a baby with potential either to bless or to curse his Maker, to fulfill or deny his responsibility to society.

Children are, indeed, an heritage of the Lord, and among a nation’s choicest resources. This treasure includes handicapped children—the mentally retarded as well as the physically limited. Too often the church has overlooked the crippled, epileptic, blind, deaf, spastic and other handicapped youngsters. Too long we have failed the mentally retarded of whom approximately 300,000 are born each year in the United States alone.

This treasure of human resources includes also the gifted child (I.Q. of 133 and above). Inadequate or improper direction and care often has short-circuited his abilities into assorted problems for himself and for others. All of these—handicapped and gifted—are named “exceptional” because they deserve special education for specific potential and needs.

Throughout the United States some 6,117,798 such exceptional children will need special education in 1963 according to estimates by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (Statistics elsewhere around the world would, no doubt, be equally sobering.) These youngsters reach out for satisfying experiences in family, church, and community life. Not only parents, but pastors and lay leaders as well, must cultivate the means and methods whereby the exceptional can truly live to the glory of God.

While increasing numbers of churches are augmenting and adapting their work to meet the needs of the handicapped and gifted, many more need to ...

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