“I don’t believe there’s a loving God,” Josh said with all sincerity. After all, Josh’s alcoholic mother never showed him love, only antagonized and beat him. He knew his presence reminded her of his father, and she hated his father. Sometimes Josh could escape to a friend’s house, but even that respite was taken from him when he and his mother moved to a different state. There, gangs controlled the school and most days Josh faced bullies and beatings. After he and his mother eventually moved back to their hometown, Josh became involved with drugs. He was barely seventeen when he was kicked out of the house and forced to live behind a dumpster for a few weeks, before a friend finally took him in.
With such a life of neglect, is it any wonder that Josh would doubt the existence of a loving God?
Neglected Kids is an Epidemic in America
The stories may vary but the outcome remains the same in far too many lives. Kids left, day after day, unsupervised and uncared for, their parents spending their days lost to drugs and alcohol. Mom and Dad never make them a meal, read them a story, help them with their homework, tell them to brush their teeth, or make sure they are properly dressed. They never even show them love, while some children experience constant abuse.
A Harvard study has reported that 1 in 5 American children live in homes with parental substance abuse. To make matters worse, children whose parents use drugs and misuse alcohol are three times more likely to be physically, sexually, or emotionally abused and four times more likely to be neglected than their peers.
Is there any wonder why some children have behavior issues when they’re not taught from a young age the basics of right from wrong, how to develop good habits, or how to treat others kindly when they, themselves, haven’t been treated well? It’s easy to assume that “problem children” know what to do, but choose to be difficult. The reality may be that they simply need your love and care to help them learn.
God’s Heart Breaks for These Children
Josh didn’t believe there was a loving God, but we know the truth. God does exist and He loves us so much He sent His son, Jesus, to rescue us. So then… does God know and care about these children? ABSOLUTELY, YES! Jesus cherishes children and seeks to fiercely defend them. He told his disciples:
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” —Matthew 18:5–6
The love of Jesus can radically change boys’ and girls’ lives, even if their immediate situation doesn’t get better. God is near to the broken-hearted and His heart weeps for those neglected and lost. Children desperately need to hear that God knows and cares for them, but they also need to be shown that love by Jesus’ hands and feet here on earth: the church.
How to Help Neglected Children
Maybe there’s a child like Josh in your life—one who yearns for someone to care for them. Show them the love of Jesus and that you care by taking the time to get to know them. Say “hi” when you see them and call them by name, ask questions to find out about their interests, or play a silly get-to-know-you game like “Would You Rather?” Helping a kid to feel loved and cherished doesn’t always require grand gestures. You can make a kid feel valued simply by including them in activities like sports, crafts, music, or drama. Even if you can’t spend time with them in person, you can show love to kids by writing them letters, sending them a birthday card, or giving them little gifts. Any attention or act of kindness can go a long way, especially when coupled with a “Jesus loves you”.
If you ever witness or hear of any instance of child abuse or neglect, you should always report it to the appropriate authorities and step in to protect that child.
Child Evangelism Fellowship Can Help
Josh couldn’t trust his mom to help him, so he endured each day on his own the best he could. He desperately needed a safe place to go where he could get to know people who would care for him and show him the love of Jesus. Going to one of CEF’s after-school Good News Clubs could have changed Josh’s life. There, he could have gotten to know adults who would cherish him, and could have learned about the peace, love, and help we can find in Jesus.
In Pennsylvania, however, Karen, a Good News Club teacher, was encouraged to hear how one of her third-grade students responded when another child called her a loser: “She remembered that I taught her God said she is a winner.” Elsewhere, another young girl slept with a note from her Good News Club teacher tucked under her pillow. The content of the note itself wasn’t significant, but to the young girl, it represented attention from a kind person and was something worth treasuring.
When you show love and care for a child, it matters. Knowing you value them helps them to know that God is real and that He loves them too. Get involved in an after-school Good News Club near you—one that regularly changes the lives of children like Josh each year—by visiting cefonline.com or clicking this link.