Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gawk, Gossip, or Pray?

This week our community has become a focal point for much of the country with the removal of 401 children from an FLDS compound near Eldorado. Our hearts have gone out for these women and children as we’ve attempted to comprehend their way of life and the possible abuse they have endured. We find ourselves asking, “What can we do?” At first, it may seem like there’s not much we can do. The situation seems out of our hands. As I’ve thought and prayed over the last few days, here are my thoughts on that question.

In the near future we can pray, and pray, and pray some more. Pray for the women and children and their wellbeing. Pray for the CPS workers, law enforcement agencies, and judges who will have a direct hand in the legal outcomes of this case. Pray for CASA volunteers who can stand as advocates for these young victims. Pray for volunteer groups like Baptist Child and Family Services, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others who are assisting with basics like food and showers. Pray for doctors and nurses who are providing medical care. And while we might not want to, in accordance with Christ's command, we should also pray for the alleged abusers.

Here’s my challenge to you, anytime you are tempted to gossip or gawk at any part of this situation, attempt to turn that natural curiosity into an opportunity for prayer. It doesn’t have to be flashy or even public but should be earnest and humble – God please intervene in this situation. In addition to praying, be a good neighbor. If you know someone who is directly involved in this situation, do something to help or encourage them. Mow a lawn (or after last night’s storm, pick up some limbs), write a note, drop off a meal. Don’t be intrusive, don’t be nosy, but do something that will hopefully encourage them during a very difficult time.

As difficult as it is to look beyond this situation, it will eventually pass from the headlines and the nightly news. That doesn’t mean child abuse will cease to exist. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It’s unfortunate that something of this scale has to happen to help us become aware child abuse in our midst, but the reality is that child abuse isn’t limited to the grounds of strange religious groups. Child abuse happens in our neighborhoods, too. Don’t allow this tragedy to pass without raising your awareness of the chronic need for child advocates, foster families and more. What can you do? More than you think.

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." Mark 9:36-37

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