Dream a New World

by Wes Stafford

It's time to dream. Close your eyes, for just a moment, and imagine that we live in a very different world. It's a world where children are at the top of the priority list. It's a world where governments, churches, schools, families, and individuals look at children the way God does. What might that world look like? Maybe we'd begin by seeing the guardian angel standing on duty behind each little child-a huge warrior, the kind of powerful presence that, in numerous Bible incidents, triggered instant panic in strong adults. Can you imagine? It would be like something out of a Frank Peretti novel; you're dropping your kids off at school and the angel climbs out of the minivan with them. You'd see angelic beings filling the hallways as kids make their way to their classrooms, or crowding the sidewalks as they walk to their homes at the end of the day. It would be enough to terrify anyone who wished to harm a child. Maybe that's a little too far-fetched. But here's something that's a little more realistic: What if every child was immunized against all known childhood diseases? We could actually do this one. Take measles, for example: The World Health Organization reported that 745,000 children died of this disease in 2001. The total cost to vaccinate them would have been only $558,750. That's 75 cents per child. It absolutely crushes my heart to know that so many precious little children lost their lives to something we could have fixed for the cost of a pack of chewing gum per child. Where are our priorities? What if no new law was passed until the lawmakers stopped to consider how it might affect children? Imagine the impact if a huge banner reading, "What About the Children?" was hanging in the United Nations Assembly Hall, the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Pentagon, and every corporate boardroom. What if, in an effort to further protect our children, we automatically doubled the penalty for any criminal conviction that involved harm to a child? We double fines for speeding in construction zones or school zones, so why not double the penalty for anyone who commits a crime against a child? If you set fire to a house with a child inside, if you hurt a child while burglarizing a store, if you injure a child while driving under the influence, you spend twice as long behind bars. To me, it seems this should be a no-brainer. In an earlier column, I wrote about how the church is missing out on a huge part of the harvest by not engaging more with children. What if your church decided to earmark 40 percent of its budget to teaching children and teenagers? If your church is like most, the actual figure is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent. In fact, I'll go one step further: What if every senior pastor was absent from the pulpit two Sunday mornings a year because he was working in the church nursery? Wouldn't that send a novel message to the congregation! Every year, Mother's Day and Father's Day have become multi-billion dollar shopping seasons for retailers. There are commercials and greeting cards designed specifically for each occasion. You may not realize it, but there actually is a Children's Day, too. When was the last time you celebrated it? The United Nations says Children's Day is November 20, while other traditions point to the second Sunday of June. We're so unfocused on honoring the young that we can't even decide on which day the holiday should fall! As a result, virtually nobody even celebrates it. I'm actually shocked that the retail industry hasn't jumped on Children's Day. I'm not for the commercialization of holidays but it sure seems to me that toy companies are missing the boat on a potential summertime holiday shopping season. My guess is that the November date is too close to the traditional holiday season and they don't want to mess with that. But the point is there should be a day that we set aside to honor the worth, potential, and needs of children. It doesn't have to mean buying toys. It doesn't have to mean presents at all. It should mean telling a child how important he or she ishow much she is loved. And if you don't have children of your own, don't let that stop you. There are children in your life that you can impact in a positive way. Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, sign up to coach a youth sports team with the Parks and Recreation Department. They need help. Have you ever gone to a school sporting event just to support the kids who are playing their hearts out on the field or court? You don't have to be a parent to be a mentor to a child. Attend the school play or concert and make sure you applaud when they're done. It doesn't matter if none of the little actors or musicians belongs to you. Just show up and show your support! And speaking of schools-will we ever deal with the long-overdue money issue? When the average elementary school teacher is earning between $25,000 and $30,000 for a year's work, while baseball pitcher Pedro Martinez is making that much for every "out" he gets on the mound, something is desperately out of whack. While we're dreaming, could we ever revive the tradition of years past when adults felt free to watch out for other people's kids, correcting them appropriately if necessary? Now we seem afraid to say anything for fear of parental backlash. What if we admitted to one another that parenting is a complex, round-the-clock job and that we all need help from one another to do it well? Sometimes it's nice to dream. Sometimes it's disturbing. What disturbs me is that we live in a world where these things are dreams and not realities. It's time we opened our eyes and realized that God expects more of us. He has charged us with taking care of His precious little ones. They are a priority to Him. They should be a priority to us too.
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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