Thursday, April 18, 2024

FAMILY FUSION: Children and the church

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Children astound me with their inquisitive minds. The world is wide and mysterious to them, and as they piece together the puzzle of life, they ask ‘Why?’ ceaselessly. John C. Maxwell

 

CHILDREN NEED adult protection and the church as a spiritual agency must be in the forefront of creating protective shields for our children. The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics And Pastoral Theology describes the church as “that collection of human societies which is inspired by, and seeks to represent, the significance of Jesus”.

Over the centuries, the church cannot boast of being free from faults. There are people who have crept into the church and have misrepresented the principles of Christ, causing much pain to the lives of our precious children.

On the other hand, the records show there are those within the church who have been strong advocates for protecting the children, even from those who may have had negative intentions for these innocent little ones. As God’s representative here on earth, the church must have a zero tolerance for any form of abuse, no matter its source.

Emotional issues

Over the last decade, I have been seeing parents from all levels of society with deep-seated emotional issues. Unfortunately, these issues are transferred to the children who are often caught at the bitter end of their parents’ frustrations.

Regrettably, too many children, when afflicted by the sharp blows of the various forms of abuse, are left wobbling onto the highway of life. Very often these battered children have mustered enough strength to continue to search for sources of help and sometimes find rescue in the church in mother/ father figures and role models that they emulate.

As a church, we must offer the children a haven in which they can feel protected and can be assured of safety.

Fortunately, many children have been rescued from abusive parents, but there are still too many out there medicating their pain with the dangerous “pills” of sexual promiscuity, illegal drugs, partying and prostitution.

Parents still feel relaxed in bringing their little ones to be baptised, dedicated or confirmed; they still send them to Sabbath or Sunday school, Christian-run and Bible-based day nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools. They are still comfortable in sending them to the church’s youth meetings, social events, sporting activities, missions trips, camps and conventions.

Trust

By their actions, parents, whether they are Christians or not, are sending a clear signal of trust and confidence in the church, to educate and empower their offspring in moral and spiritual values.

Therefore, as representatives of Christ and guardians of these children, a great responsibility rests on our shoulders and consciences to create an environment in which children can play, make progress, be protected and reach their full potential.

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, was strong in his call when he said: “Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”

This brings me to a dangerous group that I need to address; this group is made up of what I call the fearless predators.

Some of these fearless predators are found across the world. Sadly, they have been known to dress up in decent clothes as healthcare professionals, church leaders, politicians, educators, law enforcement officers, attorneys at law, employers and many others who use their position of power to take advantage of our innocent, trusting children.

Some of these children end up in our churches looking for people in whom they can confide and find comfort.

It must be noted that everyone who comes to and frequents places of worship, does not come to pray and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. There are those who are seeking  ways and means of preying on our children through subtle means of luring them away.

Some of these predators become very active in children ministries, youth camps, sporting activities and related ministries and may even become leaders of children and youth groups. Very often they are not scrutinised until it is too late.

We can no longer take things for granted when it comes to our children. Our sharp, vigilant eyes must be trained enough to spot the human vultures and act swiftly, and assertively, without fear or favour, no matter what position they hold in the church or what status they hold in society.

Our children need protection and as a church community, we must offer them a secure place of refuge. The church must never be perceived as a haven for covering up the actions of those within its ranks whose actions are known to leave our children on the floor of despair.

Watchdogs

The church, therefore, as the “body” of Christ, must take a proactive and holistic approach to protect the beautiful and tender young gems of our nations, and be vigilant watchdogs in preserving our children from any corruption that would seek to rob them of their dignity and decency.

In highlighting the story of the Good Samaritan, Dr Martin Luther King Jr said: “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But . . . the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”

If as a church we do not stop to help these children, what will happen to their immediate and future pursuits and by extension our society?

I concur with physicist Albert Einstein who once said: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Let it never be said that as a church we look on and do nothing for our concerned children. Let us be in the vanguard of protecting them.

Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email griffitharticles@gmail.com.

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