Children — Their Safety, Our Responsibility

Solomon says, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate”—Psalm 127:3-5, NIV.

We all know about the unique wisdom of Solomon, given to him by the Lord. Now, embodied in these verses are elements that call our attention to the blessings, worth, value, and care required by children. It is no secret that we are living in times when the safety and welfare of our children is requiring our highest attention.

Foundations, churches, schools, government programs, and several other institutions, are promoting programs and guidelines to ensure the safety and protection of our children. Children’s safety—from general accidents, abuse and neglect, child slavery and sex abuse, exploitation within the drug communities, violence of peers and adults, and even homelessness—is constantly being publicized on the television, billboards, and in newspapers.

While, as a church, we participate in the efforts and programs of our society to protect our children, we recognize there is a greater protection program we are called upon to provide for children’s care and safety. That safety net/safety program, or that protection plan has to do with children’s spiritual, physical, social, and mental development.

God has given us a blueprint for the protection and development of our children. At its basic level, it calls for the working together of the home, the church, and our schools. In the Christian context, there is no greater place than a Christian home with Christ-centered parents who will not only model Christian values but also provide an environment where the children will feel their parent’s love and that their potential is valued.

Recently the North American Division hosted a ministerial convention in Austin, Texas. More than 5,000 ministers, their spouses, and many family members were present. I was very impressed with the many seminars that were presented. The children’s programs and presentations caught my attention. Every day, for two-and- a-half days, hundreds of children were dropped off to a particular area in the convention hall. In order to access the area, a special pass was required. It seems that all measures for the safety of these children were implemented. I believe God expects and requires us as a family and His church to provide a safe environment at all times. Thank God for the careful efforts displayed by the organizers of the NAD ministerial convention.

Providing safety for our children must not just mirror the efforts of our society, but we must try by the grace of God to keep children safe from the efforts and temptations of Satan, whose influence is affecting our whole world. As a church family, we can thank God we are not alone in this endeavor.

Carlyle C. Simmons is the Atlantic Union Conference executive secretary and director of the Health Ministries, Human Relations, and Prayer Ministries departments.