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Too Extreme!

With the disgusting article “Going to the Extreme” (January 2006), The Banner has definitely gone off the deep end. Will there be a follow-up article on beating a train at a crossing, going over Niagara Falls in an inner tube, or going 120 mph in a car to get an adrenaline rush? Please use your editorial responsibility and don’t let that happen. Our young people need guidance, not more challenges to do stupid things just because such acts may make them feel good.

Is there ever a time for us to tempt God into allowing us to take our own life? We don’t think so and, in fact, strongly believe that such acts are forbidden by our God.

Please try to set the record straight and please do so quickly.

—Fred and Sandra Wybenga, Tallmadge, Ohio

Thank You, Peter

We indeed have so much to be thankful for as a denomination (“Dear Reader,” Church@Work, December 2005). Though we are small, the Lord has been pleased to use us in so many facets of ministry.

I very much enjoy the contribution the CRC’s executive director, Rev. Peter Borgdorff, makes in The Banner’s Church@Work section. His words express my sentiments fully. He is truly a blessing to the denomination!

I love the CRC, even with the shortcomings that arise from time to time. I love its teachings and all its efforts in ministry at home and abroad in word and deed. I’m so pleased that the new format of The Banner includes increased emphasis on those ministries. I have felt so strongly the need to communicate that to our membership.

We truly have a rich heritage in the Reformed Christian tradition. May the new generations recognize that and, by God’s grace and blessing, build upon that in ever-diverse ministries.

—John B. Rustenburg, Whitby, Ontario

Better Than Christmas Cards

I was inspired by the December editorial in which the Banner editor says he would rather have people send cards to and on behalf of Christians imprisoned for their faith than to send him Christmas cards or gifts. I proposed the idea to our GEMS girls’ club, and they were delighted to compose encouraging notes to our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering for their faith. Thank you for providing the means for this type of kingdom work.

—Rose Medema, Tinley Park, Ill.

Attention, Church Councils

Amen and amen to Syd Hielema’s humble opinion (“Youth Ministers: Elders in Disguise?” IMHO, December 2005). To include those of us who serve as de facto elders in the support and communication system of the other elders would benefit everybody. There must be some way to work out the governance issues that may be involved. In my humble opinion, this article should be read and discussed by all church councils.

—Mary F. Loeks Minister of Education Church of the Servant Grand Rapids, Mich.

AIDS Prevention

The December issue includes an article under World News titled, “Africa Needs Fewer Strings on HIV/AIDS Help.” In the article several statements hint that abstinence strategies are no solution to the AIDS crisis in the short term (since behavior change is difficult and slow, presumably). The article further implies that the church must do its part to ensure unrestricted access to condoms as the only assured way of turning the crisis around.

While I agree that abstinence programs are insufficient by themselves, the truth is that a strategy aimed at providing unimpeded access to condoms will only accelerate HIV infection rates.

In his book Rethinking AIDS Prevention, Dr. Edward C. Green of Harvard University documents that the three-pronged “ABC” approach (Abstain, Be faithful, or use Condoms if you or your partner is infected) is the only proved strategy in reducing AIDS.

Recent U.N.-sponsored health surveys in Swaziland show that behavior change can be accomplished far more rapidly than anyone imagined. In Swaziland, where the HIV infection rate approaches 40 percent, the infection rate of girls ages 15 to 19 has remained below 5 percent since 2001, when a nationwide effort was undertaken by faith-based NGOs to form chastity clubs for teens.

Let’s not allow ourselves to be stampeded by public opinion in North America into stand-alone solutions that cannot possibly succeed where it counts most. We cannot afford to fail—an entire generation hangs in the balance.

—John De Haan, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Penguins

Just picked up the November Banner, looking for an address, and found the editorial on penguins. How did I miss it before? After weeks of inquiring from every Linda, Ben, and Steve about the suitability of the film March of the Penguins, I discovered Bob had the answer! With such a recommendation for the movie, we can add it to our church library. Thank you. (A good reason to keep The Banner around for more than one month.)

—Elaine Peterson, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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