Children are a heritage from God

A day does not pass without us reading about a child being abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, raped and/or murdered. More than 33 children have gone missing and killed in the Western Cape since January 2017 and these are only some of the reported cases. It is said that more than 800 children have been harmed, maimed or murdered in South Africa in the last six months.

My heart cries out for these innocent victims. The perpetual trauma, pain and physical and emotional damage these young ones have to endure at the hands of adults – the very ones they trust and look to for care, protection and love. Look around – where is their protection from violence, cruelty, danger, hunger, exploitation and disrespect? Psalm 127:3 clearly says: ”Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”

Children across all spectrums are caught up in situations that affect their very being, and have long term consequences for living a full and fruitful life – a life that God intended for them to live. It is not only the atrocities of violence, rape and murder that have a devastating effect on children. They are exposed to situations that can negatively impact and influence their life on so many levels. Let us consider a few of these:

• Socio-economic situations forces children to join gangs, indulge in substance abuse, promiscuous behaviour leading to teenage pregnancy and early school dropouts.

• South Africa is listed as one of the top five countries with the highest divorce rates in the world. Children are caught up in the furore between mother and father, they feel they are to blame, and can often be used as a pawn to ease the conscience of the parent.

• Children who grow up without their fathers may experience problems in their school performance and behaviour. Low morals, low self-esteem, low self-love can all lead to bigger emotional and psychosocial adjustments and behaviours. Stephan Baskerville from Howard University says: “Violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide – all correlate more strongly to “fatherlessness” than to any other single factor.”

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” [Mal. 4:6].

• Unemployment further exacerbates the family finances and children are deprived of food, shelter, education and just the basic living commodities. Hunger and poverty can drive children to desperate measures by dabbling in things for extra cash that can lead to detrimental consequences. In some cases where parents do have jobs, it is the older siblings that have to take care of the younger ones. This means no schooling, and goes against the Children’s Act in terms of child labour.

• Let us not forget that any disaster, like the recent floods and fires, which results in families losing their homes or where the death of family members happen can further increase the level of vulnerability that children experience.

• Domestic violence and conflict in communities also deprives children from having any psychological, social, economic or spiritual support.

In Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” In the preceding chapter the disciples question Jesus about who the greatest is in the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 18:1-6]. He uses a little child to illustrate His point, that unless we become like a vulnerable little child, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. We learn from these two passages that children are treasures and not commodities for exploitation in His kingdom. They must be welcomed, protected and blessed.

So, what is the role of the church in ensuring that children are safe and protected? The church has always been involved in caring for, protecting and advocating for children. Sunday School, community camps, holiday clubs, homework clubs, child-and-youth-care centres, are some areas where children are vulnerable and in the care of the church premises. Both the children and the church are at risk. Those involved in working with children need to have an understanding of the Children’s Act and its related laws and how this is relevant for the church.

The Warehouse has a resource available which describes the principles and provisions of the Children’s Act and its relevance to churches in their work with children. These are some of the topics that are covered:

 Background to the Children’s Act, its aim and purpose
 Biblical Principles
 General Principles for children
 Who can work with children
 What to do when you suspect a child being abused or neglected
 What to do if a child is injured or dies while in the care of the church

In the midst of continuous atrocities against children in our communities, The Warehouse will be hosting three events on 9 August (Women’s Day) and Saturday 12 August, on the responsibility of the church towards children.

9 August 9h00 - 15h30: Presentation on the Children’s Act and its application to churches

12 August 09h30 - 12h30:  Gathering of church- and children’s ministry leaders to share experiences and thoughts around the responsibility of the church in addressing this scourge

12 August 14h00 - 17h00 Repeat of the Children’s Act workshop, but in a shortened form.
The book, Children, Church and the Law will be on sale at a cost of R300.

There is no charge for the workshops themselves, but donations will be much appreciated, both towards the cost of refreshments, and towards the cost of the book so that we can subsidise churches who cannot afford it.

Please make you booking for any of the events by phoning 021-7611168, emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or via Quicket:

connect with us