What About the Children?

     Children are everywhere! We see them in our homes, at the park, in the mall, at the supermarket, riding bikes and skateboards, or just playing with dolls on the front porch. They seem to have unlimited amounts of energy and ask endless questions that don't have simple answers. But, what about the children?  Recent statistics show that 1 in every 58 children in the United States, were abused in 2006.

More than half (61 percent) of the children (771,700 children) were victims of neglect, meaning a parent or guardian failed to provide for the child's basic needs. Forms of neglect include educational neglect (360,500 children), physical neglect (295,300 children), and emotional neglect (193,400).

Another 44 percent were victims of abuse (553,300 children), including physical abuse (325,000 children), sexual abuse (135,000 children), and emotional abuse (148,500 children).

An average of nearly four children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect (1,760 in 2007).*

Christ was very clear in His Word about the way he felt about children. He loved them, and expected them to be taken care of. This is what He says:  "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom." (Mark 10:14 MSG) And He also says this, which is the whole reason for this evening's blog: "Feed my lambs." John 21:15.

     Everyone knows that public prayers are not allowed in the public schools, and children who openly speak about their faith in God are often ostracized or harassed by school administrators, and ridiculed by their peers. The emptiness of soul of many children is evident, manifesting itself in destructive behaviors such as low self-esteem and disrespect towards others, poor grades, pervasive anger, drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, and violence. What makes this even worse, is that too often many of these same children come from Christian homes, whose parents are leaders in the church. What about the children?  This is not a judgement of anyone's parenting skills, or lack thereof. But something is clearly wrong.

     A lot of children and youth workers in churches have no calling to work with children, and are wounding the little ones with the words of their mouths, and in even worse ways. Some will remain silent, some will tell their parents. Some will completely walk away from the church or if they stay, will simply pack it up, "shut down" and only come to distract others from learning the ttruth. They will sit in church and text, or listen to their iPod and not hear the Word because they have been wounded by those who they were supposed to trust.  But God sees it all: "On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a around your neck." (Mark 9:42 MSG) If you are working with children and youth without the heart and calling of God, please leave the ministry now!

     Many parents send their children to church but don't attend themselves, so they have no Christ-like examples to follow at home. They know the words to the latest songs, but cannot remember scripture, or do not know how to apply God's Word to their lives. Children enter a war zone every day when they go to school, so they need to know how to put on the full armor of God, just as adults do. If they are not hearing God's Word at home, when they come to church they need to hear it in a way that is relevant to them. Children and youth workers, please be creative, listen to the Holy Spirit and let God lead and guide you in presenting the Word to them for their world. Children can quickly discern fakeness and phoniness! So be honest, and live your lives authenically, so that the young ones can see the light of Christ in you.  Teach them the Word, teach them how to pray, and teach them how to worship. Children are not the church of tomorrow, they are part of the church today. So...what about the children?

*National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.