Every time we turn on the TV or get on Facebook, it’s easy to see how broken our world is. Even if we’re not looking for it, we hear story after story of hate and evil in our world. It is easy to get caught up in it. And it’s easy to forget that we have nothing to fear. We have a responsibility to set an example for our children.
Today in our small group prayer time, a little girl said that she wanted us to pray that she would be reunited with her mom. I asked her where her mom was, and she proceeded to tell me that Child Protective Services took her away from her mom. And she was now living with her dad. This little girl is nine years old, and she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. And you would never know because she is full of so much joy and always has a smile on her face. She expressed how CPS is “mean,” but she doesn’t see have the capacity to see the bigger picture. She is only nine years old. She doesn’t understand that they are acting out of protecting her for a very good reason. I was proud of this child for opening up about her pain even though my heart broke for her.
But my heart was also filled with joy later because who knows when she would have had the time and space to be able to express what she was feeling. We created a space for her to feel safe, loved, and accepted. That is the CHURCH!
You might never know what a kid is facing. They are all carrying heavy burdens, but it is our job to create a space for them to be able to say what they need to say and know that it will be okay.
Some of the homes that our few live in aren’t safe places. Sometimes your few are the older sibling taking care of the younger ones while the parents struggle in their marriage. Sometimes your few divide their time between two different homes. They might spend too much time alone because their parents are working hard to get out of the financial burden they are carrying. Sometimes, schools aren’t a safe place. The pressure to compete academically and fit in might make them fear going to school everyday. They might be facing drama with their friends or bullying at school. And for a lot of kids, there isn’t a safe group of friends who can listen and encourage them.
But the church can be and should be a place where kids can come and experience hope and community! Every week we can pour into our few and create a place where they can talk about the hard things because our kids are going through hard things.
Here are three things that we can do to help them through the hard things and be a safe place!
- We can spend every week knowing what is going on in the lives of our few. Know their names, and follow up with the different situations they have told you about. You are their small group leader, but you can also be their friend!
- Always make time to pray together. No matter how crazy the lesson time is or how many things you try to pack into your hour long service, never cut out prayer time! That teaches them to value prayer as the thing we do first when times are tough!
- Most of all, we can cast out any fear that they might have and remind them that their future is secure and God is with them ALWAYS! That’s a truth that every child needs to hear.
Proverbs 18:10 says, “God’s name is a place of protection.” And your small group should be a place where kids can experience the safety of that protection.
Written by Claire Ellis