FAQs

Big Questions
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Health

Q I recently delivered twins who had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. With laser treatment at 19 weeks gestation, there was a successful outcome. I am concerned that not many people, including doctors, know about this problem.

A Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) occurs when an abnormality in the vessels of the placenta (afterbirth) sends more blood to one fetus than to the other. The result is often fetal death or neurological damage. You will appreciate that I cannot comment on your medical care, nor is this space designed to deal with relatively rare problems. But you raise an interesting point about the perceived lack of knowledge about your twins’ condition by the medical community and others.

The practice of medicine is full of rare and semi-rare conditions, and medical practitioners will never know them all. Most of us will go to our books and computers to investigate puzzling symptoms, and most of us learn greatly from our missed diagnoses. This still leaves us imperfect. The perfect Healer was on earth two millennia ago.

Raising awareness of a condition helps both the patient(s) and the doctor. I am sure that more than one doctor will be asked a question about TTTS because of your letter.

In situations where you are unsure of a diagnosis or treatment, optimum medical care requires trust in your doctor. Reading medical articles (the Internet is a common source) gives you much information, but frequently the information is incorrect or misinterpreted. Your history, physical findings, and investigations should be interpreted as they apply to you. Do not avoid asking about your concerns, wherever they come from. Very few doctors resent being questioned about genuine issues.

—Herman Borkent

Dr. Herman Borkent practices medicine at Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta.

Calling/Mission

Q I’ve heard the term “missional” lately in relationship to church. What does that mean?

A We all know that “church” is not a building or a place. Rather, “church” is the people of God, the “called out” ones, the bearers of Jesus Christ in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and world. But members of the church, rather than remaining in one location, must also see themselves as the “sent ones.”

On his website www.friendofmissional.org, Rick Meigs writes, “Missional is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace the ‘come to us’ invitations with a ‘go to them’ life—a life where ‘the way of Jesus’ informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture.”

How do we do this? By seeking to put the good of our neighbor over our own, by practicing hospitality and welcoming the stranger into the midst of our community, and by simply and purely placing ourselves into the lives of others around us and loving them as Jesus would.

—Victor Ko

Rev. Victor Ko is pastor of Mosaic House Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta.

Culture

Q Are there general guidelines regarding when kids should be allowed to have a Facebook account or use e-mail?

A When it comes to children doing social networking over the Internet, it’s a question of when, not if.

And it probably won’t be you who introduces your child to electronic culture. In most schools now, children are using computers as early as kindergarten or first grade.

However, responsible Christian parents will guide their children in the ways they should go. That requires you to be well-informed about what they are doing on the computer.

Everyone says this, but one of the most important things you can do is to keep your family’s computer in a public place in your house. When your children know that either you are watching or could be watching at any moment, they monitor their own behavior better.

Talk with your children about what they are doing online. Talk with them quite explicitly about the danger of putting personal information on the web and of chatting or e-mailing with strangers. Be sure to engage in conversation with them instead of interrogating and lecturing.

Check the history of the sites your child visits. Trust, but verify. Tell your children you will be checking, and then carry through (and make the history settings password-protected so your children can’t change them).

Join Facebook (and other sites your child may use) yourself. Become a “friend” on your children’s sites so you know what they are posting there. Knowing what they are doing puts you in a good position to intervene if they start down a wrong path.

This is a case where being as “wise as serpents, but as gentle as doves” makes sense (Matt. 10:16).

—Helen Sterk

Dr. Helen Sterk is chair of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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