Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Call to Compassion

A small child drinks from a container of lye left in the refrigerator by his parents for the purpose of manufacturing drugs. A department store security camera films a mother brutally beating her 4-year-old daughter. A father and his young son charge onto a baseball field and savagely assault a coach. A young girl is repeatedly raped and victimized by her father. A mother binds the hands of her small children, then methodically drowns them in the bathtub. Two pre-adolescent children are forced by their parents to "sexually" service the parents' adult friends. A child of four-years-of-age is left to scrounge around the house for food, while his teenage mother is out partying with her friends.

Seven scenes with a common, disturbing theme: the neglect, abuse, and exploitation of a child. These accounts made the news in the past couple of years, but how many cases of child neglect, abuse, and exploitation went unreported and unnoticed in the past week? Sadly, thousands upon thousands of children live in homes where their welfare is continually threatened. They are in the care of individuals who lack self-control, common sense, decency and morality.

As the church, what is our responsibility? As people of faith and compassion the welfare of children should be of prime concern to us. Our responsibility starts in our own homes: we should continually be the most the most loving and nurturing parents we can be. We should set the example for others to follow. BUT, our responsibility extends beyond the walls of our houses and into the community.

We should notice the children that live about us. Are they well-fed? Are they clothed? Are they being provided with shelter, medical care, and with proper parenting? Are they being provided with spiritual nourishment? A child that lacks these things is a child that is in need of our attention and care.

I am not saying that we are to be nosey and intrusive. I am saying that we need to be aware and at times be proactive when we see a child in harms way.

I am reminded of the example of the early church. In the culture of ancient Greece and Rome it was common for small children to be abandoned by parents who either did not want or could not care for them. Christians became known for rescuing these abandoned children and raising them as their own.

Today, we have many good people serving in a similar cause: the rescue of neglected and abused children. I praise God for the good work of organizations like Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. We are involved in the ministry of providing for children in need.

Let us all do our part in helping children who are in need. Let us be ever ready to show the compassion of Christ. Help in your community with children who are in need. Give of your time. Give of your financial resources. Pray. Recruit others to the cause.

If you can help Manuelito Navajo Children's Home and in our mission to serve the children of the Navajo Nation, please send your contributions to MNCH; P.O. Box 58; Gallup, NM 87305.

The psalmist delcares, "Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 82.3-4 HCSB).