I'm back! :D At least for this weekend. LOL I'm still here, and not going anywhere, so no worries. Just swamped with our Christian School and other responsibilities. The school year is coming to a close...whew! I can't believe how time flies!
>>> Make sure to read all the way to the end for a special announcement! :D <<<
Lately, I've had this subject on my mind a lot....child abuse, child trafficking, child neglect, etc. So many Christians go around with their "head in the sand" and think that we don't deal with that in our churches. I hate to tell you this... no matter what size church you attend, you are bound to have at least one child that has dealt with some form of this. :-( The day we live in...this world is so completely full of difficult situations. Even if your children have what appears to be an exemplary home life, they could be dealing with this at school, on the bus, from other family members, etc.
And sad to say, even the parents may be oblivious.
Here's where we come in....
It is our job to be aware and to be educated on these subjects!
Now, let me say...I am NOT by any means an authority on this subject, nor do I claim to know lots about it. I am simply a Children's Minister that loves my kids! And I WILL DO what I need to do to protect them.
Let me share an experience that we dealt with a few years back...and had to make the hard decision...
One year, we had a family begin coming to our church on the bus. It was a grandmother and her four grandchildren. One of the children had some pretty difficult conditions (I'm not exactly sure what his diagnosis was), but he was loud, somewhat unruly, and had learning disabilities.
As time went by, our bus driver began to notice how the grandmother would treat the children, and especially the one with disabilities. We would definitely characterize her as verbally abusive.
The children attended our Children's Church weekly, and so enjoyed participating in all the activities. They even got to be in one of our Christmas musicals. It was such a blessing to watch them grow and learn about the Lord!
More time went by, and the bus driver began to hear more stories...how their trailer didn't have any running water; how a couple of the children would be locked in their room and have to climb out the window to go to the outhouse; how their front door was falling off the hinges; how they weren't allowed to eat with the family on some days.
By this time, we of course realized our fears were founded. This was a full-blown child abuse/neglect case. So what do we do about it?
Of course, like you probably just did, we thought we'd need to report them to the authorities! But there were a few things to consider here....
We knew that if we DID report them, they would know who had done so, and would not allow the children to come to church anymore. On the other hand, if we chose to NOT report them....
#1 They may continue coming for a while, but one day be suddenly "hurt" and not able to come.
#2 If the authorities found out that we knew and didn't report it, then we would be at fault, and therefore "aiding" in the abuse and neglect of these children.
Let me just say...this was a very hard decision to make! Of course, we did decide to do the RIGHT thing! In the best interest of the children, we did end up reporting to the authorities. And like we thought, they did stop coming to church. In fact, they picked up and moved...which of course plays around in your head making you wonder if you did the right thing or not. But YES...if we had to do it all over again...we DID THE RIGHT THING!
As Children's Ministers, we care for the souls of our children. But in caring for their souls, we must also watch over and care for their physical well-being. Don't turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the children that have been placed in your care.
Our church is in a small town of only 1600 people. Our tiny, little "city" has had all kinds of abuse situations, including pedafiles meeting up with young teens at our only hotel, child trafficking, and more.
I am pleading with you....don't think that your children are not going to ever come into contact with or find themselves in these types of circumstances.
WE MUST PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!
Here are just a few things to watch for, when you work with children:
- Lack of self-confidence
- Inability to maintain eye contact
- Unruly Behavior
.....and I'm sure you can come up with even more.
Do some research on how to be aware of these things, how to handle the situation, etc. Don't stand idly by, expecting it will never happen to one of yours. Prepare ahead, and be ready to help when the need arises.
Also, remember that it's better talk to your Pastor if you have a concern, than to ignore it and find out the horrible truth later. But DON'T gossip or spread stories, unfounded or founded! Talk to your Pastor or whomever would help you know how to investigate and handle the situation correctly.
Lastly, make sure your environment is a safe zone for your children. For example, our Children's Sanctuary is our old church sanctuary with it's own entrance and foyer. We leave the door unlocked for staff before service, until a specified time. Then, the door gets locked, and we don't allow anyone to enter that way, unless otherwise arranged. Remember that none of these school or church shootings had any warning either! Don't let the next one be yours!
If you don't have a plan in place, take some time to figure what you would do in a situation like this. Where would you take the children; who would handle calling 911; which staff member would calmly give instructions? So many things to consider, even if you live in a small, little town like ours.
Don't wait until something bad happens. Plan ahead, study ahead, BE INFORMED!
AND BE AWARE OF YOUR CHILDREN'S NEEDS.
Well, I feel like I was rambling with my thoughts in this post today, but hopefully you have found some little nugget here to help you protect your children.
How much do you love them? Would you give your life in exchange for theirs?
In His Service,
Sara Vojtasek and Joel's Vision Ministries
I am so excited to announce that I have jumped full fledged into my dream! I LOVE the times that I get to help others set up, reorganize, get new ideas, etc. for their children's ministry. Sometimes, it just seems that we get so stuck in a rut, that we need someone from the outside to give us a fresh look. That's what I love to do! :D
So, as of next week, I am offering some Online Booking times for Children's Ministry Consultations. I don't have much time available, so starting small. But hopefully, you can find a time that works for you! :D
We can discuss anything from Children's Church, Sunday School, Curriculum, Puppetry, Decor, VBS, Musicals, Staff, etc.
What's on your mind that you would like help with?
CLICK HERE to get started. :-)
See you there!