The Story of Christian Royal

  • Jan. 16, 2012
  • #7751

Joni shares how Christian Royal with Down syndrome found his gift of creating beautiful pottery.

What if a teacher told you “your son can’t be taught anything.”

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and every parent likes to hear good school reports about his child, but what if the educational experts say, “Your son can’t be educated. At best, perhaps, he can be trained to do small tasks, but that’s about it.” Well, those were the words spoken to Mike and Helen Royal about their son, Christian, but Helen and Mike refused to believe the experts there in South Carolina. They took their son out of school and decided to home-school him in order to help him find some discipline, some talent, something that he could learn, something through which he could express himself. You see, Christian Royal has Down syndrome. He is 18-years-old now, but let me tell you, this young man not only found a skill he loves to do, but one in which he far excels, beyond what most people can achieve. 

Just what is it that Christian is so exceptional at, so talented at? This young man with Down syndrome is highly skilled in creating beautiful pottery. It all began years ago when Helen found a local potter who was exhibiting in several galleries in town. And when Mr. Meyers, the potter, learned about Helen’s son, he scratched his head and wondered, “You know, I think I can teach Christian a few techniques that would work for his skill level!” So Mike and Helen wasted no time – they virtually moved in with Mr. Meyers and his wife so that their son Christian could learn how to throw pottery. Now you have to understand that this young man is labeled profoundly intellectually disabled; uneducable, as they put it. But when he walked into Mr. Meyers’ studio and saw all those colors and shapes and bowls, and plates and the beautiful paints and the smells – all of it energized his senses and he began learning.

Christian Royal returned home to his house in South Carolina, a changed young man. For the first time, he had vision and drive; he had enthusiasm, and great excitement for trying out his new skill. Within a short time, Mike and Helen built a small studio inside their home, complete with a work table and a wheel on which to throw pottery. And now, I am happy to report, that famous galleries carry Christian Royal’s pottery. He and his mom go out into the backyard to pick various leaves of different shapes and sizes – Christian processes each leaf, all by hand, and then stamps them into the wet clay of his bowls and plates. And you should see his stuff – he’s really quite remarkable and you’ve really got to see it for yourself. So I’ve posted a video clip on my radio page at joniandfriends.org because you must watch this young man with Down syndrome do his thing. 

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Christian last summer, and as I sat next to him, I kept thinking of First Corinthians 14, verse 12, “… try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” Well, that’s what Christian Royal is doing, excelling and doing it in a way that completely shatters the educational paradigm that labeled him in the first place. But isn’t that just what God delights in doing? The Bible says that God loves to choose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. And when people like Christian buckle down and exercise their God-given gifts, boy, do they build up the rest of us, reminding us all that we should be boasting in our weaknesses! People with disabilities do have gifts and God delights in placing them center stage in His church so that His power will shine through joy and their yieldedness to the Savior. And Christian Royal teaches that lesson well! So please get to know him at joniandfriends.org. And while you’re there, ask for your free copy of “Raising Up God's Special Kids.”

© Joni and Friends

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