Being in Children’s Ministry for eleven years, a mother of three children, and an employee at the Children’s Museum, I thought it was only fitting (and time) that I write about … you guessed it, children! When I was in Bible college I actually went to the third year School of Youth Ministry thinking I would forever be working with teens. During that time, I was prophesied over. The man said he saw me working with kids, and he could see their little fingers pulling at my skirt. Although I didn’t say this out loud, I only thought to myself, “Yeah right, and you call yourself a prophet!” I smiled and went on my way. Oops- guess that’s how we know if a prophecy is real, huh!
Now I understand that as the reader you might be reading this article from many different viewpoints. You either are a parent, you want to be a parent, you’ve worked with children before, or you are currently working with children (bless you). Or, none of the above, but you have relatives that are little people or friends with little people. I have always been pretty good with kids (ok, some days better than others). I’ve enjoyed working with these little ones over the past eleven years. But the Lord isn’t stopping there. In 2008 we stayed up in Vail, Colorado for Spring Break. I was having my quiet time and journaling as the Lord began to show me His heart for these little ones and really just began stirring something inside of me for them.
And here I am three years later; working at the Children’s Museum, and once again the Lord again is stirring some things in my heart. At times, my heart has been breaking on the inside for the way some of these teachers treat the children. Now, some of this is cultural in respect to where I live. There is more poverty here. But that doesn’t make it right. My friend and co-worker, Erika, and I were talking about how some of the children are treated. She told me, “You have to understand. These parents and teachers are just doing what they know. The parents that neglect their kids were also neglected, and it’s a vicious cycle. And some of these teachers had high hopes and dreams of being a teacher and having their breaks and summers off, but it didn’t turn out to be the dream job they had once envisioned. Now many of them just feel stuck.” My heart is breaking for these little ones, and I have asked the Lord many times, “What can I do?” I’m still asking. So for now, if I can get even just one more person to see a child through Gods eyes and think differently about how we treat them, then for now, my voice will serve a purpose.
First, I think it’s important that we all know God’s heart for these little ones. The Lord does not take lightly the ill treatment towards His little ones. As a matter of fact, His warning and even His tone of voice when it comes to His children should not be taken lightly. Matthew 18:1-10- The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a small child over to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. V.4- Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. V.5- And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. V.6- But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large milstone tied around the neck. V.10- Beware that you don’t despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in Heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly father.
The Message translation says it best: Matthew 18:6-7- “But if you give them 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 millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse- and it’s doomsday to you if you do. I looked up this scripture in the Matthew Henry Commentary. In verse 6, (and I quote) “… where He warns all people not to offer any injury to one of Christ’s little ones. This word makes a wall of fire around them; he who touches them, touches the apple of God’s eye.” And the commentary goes on to say, “… if you cause one of these little ones who believes in Christ to sin (even the little ones who believe have the same privileges with the great ones) that it would be better for him to be drowned in the depths of the sea. The sin is so heinous, and the ruin proportionably so great, that he had better undergo the severest punishments inflicted on the worst of malefactors, which can only kill the body.”
As adults, we are called to protect these little ones. You see, they have no voice. We are their voice. They have a pure uninhibited trust in adults, but unfortunately some adults prey on innocent children. We are called to protect them. If we have it within our power to save even one, isn’t their life worth it? Unfortunately, the law can’t always save our children, and it’s up to us to intercede and pray on their behalf. We know how God feels when someone hurts one of His little ones.
I’ve been reading a book called Too Small To Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International. I also had the privilege of hearing him speak two years ago at The Children’s Pastor conference in San Diego. He wrote a chapter in his book called “Silence of the Lambs.” His story is one that had me sobbing as I tried to read through the pages. His parents were missionaries. Through that particular organization the parents would leave their children at the denominations Christian boarding school for nine months, and then the children got to visit their parents for three months. While he spent most of his childhood there, from six years old until 6th grade, he and his classmates were severely abused. They were beaten, they were called names, and they were tormented by those who were supposed to protect them (and all in the name of the Lord). The leaders would read every letter sent home to make sure no one told of the horrible abuse taking place at that Christian boarding school. The leaders told the children that if they ever told their parents, their parents would have to leave the mission field and there would be many African children going to hell- all because of them (talk about brain washing a child). And the leaders also told the children that if they told anyone, that they would be satan’s tool. The abuse that these children endured was nothing short of horrific. It is the fuel that drives Dr. Stafford everyday to be an advocate for the children.
Do you think this is just an incident that happened long ago, and things have changed now? I wish I could say yes. I just read another article about abuse in another boarding school for missionary children (Fanda). There is a website that I found. Its called GRACE– Godly Response To Abuse in the Christian Environment. I was so thankful when I stumbled upon this website because there are actually God fearing Christians out there holding other Christian Ministries accountable. Grace teaches those in ministries what to look out for and how to handle situations. They have state and national training.
I for one am passionate about protecting children because I also suffered at the hands of adults when I was a child. I will never get that time back. Although I lost a lot of my childhood, I am thankful to say God is the restorer of all things. He redeemed my life and made all things new. And whatever it is we have gone through, He will use that pain to help heal someone else’s wound. Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in this world.
In the words of someone who I admire so much for his courage and strength to stand up and make a difference: Dr. Wess Stafford, “I have experienced first hand that when children are not deemed important in our world, some very ugly things can happen. But when adults speak up for the vulnerable and the weak, working and demanding that safety and respect prevail, God’s little lambs are protected and nourished. They know they are not abandoned; they are loved. And the world becomes a little more like heaven as a result.”
If you are a children’s ministry leader, please check out GRACE’s page to stop an abuser BEFORE he/she even steps through the doors of your children’s area. On this page you will find some really good tips on prevention. The link for this is: http://www.netgrace.org/index.asp?str_string=Prevention%20Tips~none~none
Mark 9:36-37- He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.”
Lord, we see how precious and valuable your little ones truly are. Help us to do our part, whatever that may be in our lives. Whether it be giving to an organization like GRACE or Compassion to keep their ministry going strong, or to pray for children all over this world, and then even in our own hearts, to become like a child. Oh Lord, we pray for safety for these who have no voice. Raise up a generation that is willing to fight on their behalf. And intervene like only You can. In Jesus name~ Amen
“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
— Forest Witchcraft