Child Protection represents a sacred trust in the Kingdom of God. At the Crossroads of the Kingdom, every single one of us must answer to the all-or-nothing blessing or curse that Jesus spoke over responses to a child:
“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe . . .” (Matt 18:5–7).
Child Protection rests on character—the heart of our Father. At Kids Alive, we talk about the heart of Child Protection not being a policy but a response of our Father’s heart. We probe further with the question, does our response meet the “own-child-standard?” In other words, how would we respond if this were our own child needing protection?
Kids Alive leadership has declared Child Protection as a non-negotiable and top priority . . . the Board resolved that the organization has zero tolerance for anything less. This not only applies to Kids Alive employees within their work responsibilities, but extends to all spheres of life. Whenever we encounter a child within our reach, personally known to us or not, we shoulder the weight of the all-or-nothing promise or judgment issued by Jesus.
Like a millstone fastened to the neck, carrying out abuse of a child hangs on a person so heavily that it drowns that person in a realm void of God’s presence (“the sea” to the Hebrew people). The word, “glory,” also refers to heaviness, but in connection to God and His presence. To receive a child through the hospitable protection of God’s presence welcomes Jesus Himself. What a responsibility!
More than only a warning to perpetrators, we must all heed this warning as watchmen, so that we are not complicit with those causing children to stumble. In our years of living in Peru, we sensed that God placed on our shoulders the responsibility a watchman. This has continued into a new chapter of expanded leadership with Kids Alive. Ezekiel heard God speak of the role of a watchmen:
“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand” (Ezek 33:6).
In a situation of choosing to protect a child or not, to report or not to report, to investigate or not to investigate, to confront or not to confront—the neglect of silence pulls us away from God’s presence; but the weight of right response lifts our voice to declare His glory. May we choose the latter, by His grace.
Child Protection must prevail over all other expressions of self-protection and self-preservation. A choice to protect a child, vulnerable and without human power, can leave us vulnerable as well. The comfort and security of our lives, found in routines, relational systems, and acceptance from others, face significant disruption and resistance once a vulnerable child takes priority. This resistance ultimately comes not from flesh and blood but by the father of lies, who is silenced when strength is established in the voice of vulnerable children (Ps 8:2).
Child Protection comes at a cost. However, may the child’s cost never be lost from our view or seen as secondary to our cost—children who have faced the trauma of abuse and neglect face constant costs that steal, kill, and destroy their lives.
As part of an expanding model of care to impact children and families with God’s whole love, Kids Alive has been emphasizing, strengthening, and prioritizing the training of staff in child protection policies, procedures, and processes. We plan to continue to raise awareness not only among our staff but within the communities, families, government systems, and institutions where we work.
Child Protection in the Kingdom of God seeks justice that reaches back to the past, meets the present, and faces the future—all because our Father’s eternal love knows not the boundary of time. Prophets tell us:
“There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace . . . To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness . . .” (Isa 9:7)
“Therefore, since we receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:28–29).
These prophetic voices remind us that more than the looming darkness, Child Protection in the Kingdom of God participates with the ever-increasing and all-consuming nature of His justice, which leaves no rock unturned, no thread un-pulled, and no onion un-peeled . . . all for the sake of the revelation of His glory and Kingdom through a child who trusts in Him.
May all God’s people say, so be it!
Amen and amen,
Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel Coté
Regional Director, Latin America
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