“I don’t believe there’s a loving God,” Josh* said with all sincerity. Some may think this is an exaggerated statement, but for many it’s real. Josh’s alcoholic mother never showed him love. She would antagonize 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 his mother took him to a different state. Gangs controlled the school and most days Josh faced bullies and beatings. After he and his mother moved back to his hometown, Josh became involved with drugs. About the time he turned 17, he was kicked out of the house and lived behind a dumpster for a few weeks. A friend finally took him in.
Is it any wonder that Josh would doubt the existence of a loving God?
The stories may vary but the same outcome occurs in far too many lives. What about the children whose parents spend most of their days high on drugs? Kids left, day after day, unsupervised and uncared for. Mom and Dad never make them a meal, read them a story, help them with homework, tell them to brush their teeth, or make sure they are properly dressed. Some children experience constant abuse. It has been reported that “One in Five American Children Live in Homes with Parental Substance Abuse,” and that “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 problems when kids are not taught from a young age the basics of right from wrong and how to develop good habits? Don’t assume kids know what to do but just don’t want to do it. They may need your love and care to help them learn. You can show love to kids by including them in activities like sports, crafts, music, or drama. Even if you can’t spend time with them, you can show love to kids by writing them letters, sending them a birthday card, or giving them little gifts.
Does God know and care about these children? ABSOLUTELY, YES!
Jesus cherishes children. 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. Children desperately need to hear that God knows and cares for them, but they also long to be shown that love.
Josh couldn’t trust his mom to help him so he endured each day the best he could. He desperately needed a safe place to go where he could get to know people who would care for him. Going to an after school Good News Club could have changed Josh’s life. He would have gotten to know adults who cared about him and learned about the love of Jesus and how he could trust Jesus to help him.
Maybe there’s a boy or girl like Josh in your life—who yearns for someone to care for them. You can show 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?” You could become involved in an after school Good News Club near you. Sometimes there’s children in those clubs who attend just to delay going to their unhappy home life. Karen, a Good News Club teacher in Pennsylvania, 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.”
A girl I know slept with a note from her club teacher under her pillow. The content of the note wasn’t significant, but it represented attention from a kind person. When you show love and care for a child, it does matter. Knowing you will help them know God is real and loves them too.
**Christopher Bergland, “Harvard Study Pegs How Parental Substance Abuse Impacts Kids,” Psychology Today (July 18, 2016), https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201607/harvard-study-pegs-how-parental-substance-abuse-impacts-kids
**(same stats found in Feb 12, 2020 article Families In Crisis: How Parental Substance Abuse and Mental Health Impacts Kids by Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO https://valleycares.com/blog/families-in-crisis-how-parental-substance-abuse-and-mental-health-impacts-kids/)
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