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Jesus people commit to children

At this time of year, it is easy to think of children. We scurry around seeking the perfect gift to give our own. We open envelopes addressed in choppy handwriting and find a wish list from grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Often, we also remember to write a few year-end checks to our favorite charities, including several focused on children we’ve never met. Sometimes, we even step out to create a holiday party at a children’s home or send packages to mission points. All this is good, of course, but genuine commitment to children is a year-round endeavor and seeks to address the daily needs of abandoned, abused and poor children. Jesus people follow a role model who radically altered the hierarchies of culture in favor of children. We pray and think about how to demonstrate genuine, year-round commitment to children. Our cultural calendar moves children to center stage in December, but Christian commitment to children is a year-round affair of the heart and of the head.
Here are a few ideas to pray over and then take action.
Consider providing year-round relief from a crushing load of work caring for children. Why not ask your lawn service to cut the house parents’ lawn in 2007 and send you the bill? Why not earmark a monthly contribution to supplement the perennially low salaries of house parents? Become an advocate for child-care agencies in your congregation’s budget processes.
Real commitment to children is about building effective education ministries in our congregations. Make a financial commitment to education. Volunteer as a teacher, teacher’s helper or hall monitor. Ask your education minister or deacon how you can help more children build stronger Bible literacy in 2007.
Real commitment to children means that we also pray and plan for the challenges they will face as teens and young adults. Christian faithfulness is an arduous undertaking, particularly at times of transition to adulthood. How can you fund youth ministry more effectively in 2007? How can you be present for teens who need adult attention and stability? How can you encourage youth ministers in a challenging and important work? How can you nurture the faith of youth and reveal to them the genuine contours of your own walk with God?
Real commitment to children may call you to provide for their higher education and vocational-training needs so they can meet the challenges of building faithful lives and strong families when they are adults. Can you provide a scholarship or make estate plans now to leave unused assets to ministries, institutions or foundations that will serve future generations?
Beyond U.S. borders are too many cultures in which children labor in dangerous and sometimes illegal industries, including the sex trade. The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, recently estimated that 1.2 million children are sold into service in illicit trade valued at $10 billion annually.
Pray for these children. Advocate for their freedom. Fund missions and target the needs of children abroad. We can make an impact because a 6-year-old child in Africa is enslaved for as little as $20 U.S. per year, according to the ILO.
For most of us, $20 a month is giving up a few lattes and soft drinks.
How much do we care?
If you already have made a consistent commitment to children in your homeland, consider investigating how to make a commitment to children abroad. Some resources in our fellowship include: Christian Relief Fund, Amarillo, Texas (www.christianrelieffund.org), Lifeline of Hope, Kalispell, Mont. (www.lifelineofhope.org), and China Mission, Peachtree City, Ga. (www.china-mission.org).
Jesus called the children to him. He called down harsh punishments on those who mistreat children. He urged his followers to be like children. If we are to be the global kingdom, we must embrace the plight of children everywhere, not simply here at home.
We must embrace the needs of children all year long.
Dec. 1, 2006

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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