“I didn’t know what else to do. It got me on my knees.”
Difficult circumstances have a unique way of pressing us onto our knees. It is often when we are pressed down and utterly dependent that God is pleased to pour out his sustaining grace in such a way that we become an extension of grace to others. This is the case with Janet Magee.
Magee, a former Children’s Ministry Director from Texas, had dedicated her life to serving children, but when her own daughter’s struggle with substance abuse began to affect her grandchildren, Magee had to make some very difficult decisions. “There is no kid insurance,” Magee stated as she shared how God used this personal experience to show her how serious the problem of child abuse and neglect is and how critical it is to speak up. Because of Magee’s action, her grandchildren were protected and her daughter received the help she needed.
It was during this difficult experience, as Magee enlisted the help of her church in Harlingen, Texas to pray with her, that Magee began to see the needs in her own community. By God’s grace, Magee’s daughter fought hard to become healthy and thankfully was restored. But this was not the end of the fight for Magee. God would use this experience to open up new avenues of ministry for her and her church.
When Magee was asked to serve on her county’s Child Welfare Board, she began to see the scope of the problem, and the pain and fear that surrounds so many children and families involved in abuse and neglect cases. Once again, Magee found herself on her knees.
Magee, along with her church, founded the Blue Sunday Child Abuse Prevention Initiative, a ministry that seeks to bring relief to abused and neglected children in Magee’s local community. But the foundation of this initiative was the need for the body of Christ to recognize the needs of children and families in their own communities and to pray.
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless (Psalm 10:12).
Seizing the opportunity to awaken the church to pray, the Blue Sunday Initiative began encouraging churches to set aside the last Sunday in April as a day to pray for the victims of child abuse and neglect and for those who labor to rescue children and strengthen and restore families. For more than a decade every April, as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, churches have been participating in Blue Sunday. This year Blue Sunday is April 29th.
In my years as a pastor, I observed how pervasive the issue of child abuse and neglect is and the overwhelming need to help families stop this terrible cycle. As Christians we are called to advocate for the helpless, both before God and in our communities. This is why I, and fellow pastors across the nation, advocate for programs like home visiting where trained professionals help young, at-risk parents learn essential parenting skills, protecting children and strengthening the most at-risk families.
The scope of child abuse and neglect is severe and the effort needed to end this epidemic will require something from each of us. Consider the latest statistics:
In 2010 there were nearly 700,000 victims of child abuse and neglect. That same year, 1,560 children died as a result. The weight of these numbers should fall heavy on each of us, causing us, like Magee, to fall on our knees. Please join us for Blue Sunday on April 29 as we ask God to protect children and strengthen families across our nation.
Please visit www.1560reasons.org for details and resources to help your church participate in Blue Sunday on April 29.
Dr. John K. Crupper is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who served in pastoral ministry for fourteen years and is now the national director of Shepherding the Next Generation, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C.
Publication date: March 13, 2012