What has God entrusted to you?

By Grace Dickinson, Southwest Division Protecting the Mission coordinator

Casey Anthony brought child abuse to the forefront of mainstream media. According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children, Youth and Families, almost five children in the U.S. die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.  We know Caylee Anthony’s name, but can we recall any others?

Why do I bring this up, you ask?  Driving home from work yesterday, I heard a story over the radio that was too tragic to be left untold.  Ame Lynn Deal, a 10-year-old  girl whose body was found in a storage box on July 12, had a more heartbreaking death than what was first reported. Two weeks ago, it was believed that she suffocated while playing hide-and-seek.  Yesterday, her guardians were arrested for murder.  Police investigators determined that she was often forced into the box as a form of discipline. Police believe that over the past few months, Ame was deprived of food, fed hot sauce, beaten with a board, and often made to sleep on the shower floor with no pillow or blanket. Police were also told that when Ame wouldn’t pick up dog feces in the back yard, they would rub it on her face and force her to eat it.

What could a child do to deserve this? It was reported that the day before her body was found, Ame stole a Popsicle out of the fridge. Her punishment? She was forced to run and do backbends for several hours in the summer heat just before dragging the storage box that she was later forced and locked into.

What troubled me the most about this story was that it all happened less than two miles from where I live.  Perhaps I passed by Ame’s “caregivers” at the grocery store, or maybe Ame herself. Then I ask myself, how many other children, like Ame, do I pass by every day? On my drive to work? Walking around my neighborhood? At my church?

This is a good reminder of our tremendous and vital responsibility to the children we serve in our corps and community. We must be that safe haven that our kids feel comfortable going to when they are in danger. They trust us to protect them and keep them safe. If a child does not feel safe and if his or her life is in constant chaos, how will he or she be able to hear us when we speak about the love of God? We may only have a couple hours each week, but those few hours can make all the difference.

All of us are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse. As 1 Timothy 6:20 says, “Guard what has been entrusted to your care.”

What has God entrusted to you?

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