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“I Was Only A Child”

Recently I settled  my youngest son into a semester of study in New Mexico – near the Navajo Nation. It has been good to see him begin to be immersed once again into our culture, our foods, our language, and our beautiful red soil & rocks.

Yet those rocks are heavy. I consider the people who have lived on and near them – the parents who have stood on them, crying out for lost land and the children who have hid behind the boulders as they tried to avoid capture from other tribes, from the Spanish, then the Americans, next the boarding school officers, and today, the human traffickers. 

Such weightiness in this dry air. Such heaviness in the billowy clouds of the immense blue sky.

The New York Times produced a feature article on the boarding school experience of Native children in the US – “War Against the Children” which recounts the weaponizing of education as a means to wipe out Indigenous bloodlines, culture, language, religion and to grab over 90 million acres of land in the United States. A genocide via the classroom. 

Reading the article sickened me. Once again, I had to enter the trauma and suffering of children who had been forcibly taken from their homes, sometimes with their parents resisting and experiencing beatings or prison for refusing to let their children attend school. 

I thought of all the children around the world who are pawns in conflict, boys and girls who are harmed in the power struggles over land. Power moves for power’s sake. What brokenness and despair we place around these precious little ones. I take a deep breath as I consider the displaced boy in Syria, the hungry girl trying to fall asleep in Ethiopia, the child forced to take up arms in Sudan, and the babe who is stolen from her mother to work the streets. Lord, they are only children, my heart cries out. 

“I was only a child,” the elderly man recalls in the NYT article as he tries to reconcile how such harsh treatment could have been his reality at his young age. “I was only a child.”

In such evil and brokenness, we know that faithful people are working to protect children. People like you are standing against systems that would rob children of their innocence. Staff of World Renew help communities, and families in particular, to nourish children so that every conceivable potential could be theirs! The Hearts Exchanged program with Indigenous people and churches in Canada seeks to bring light and truth onto horrific experiences so that the healing might be possible. Each of these are ways that you can be the outreached hands of Jesus, calling the little children into love and life. 

You can work to ensure that beloved children are safe and you can  create pathways of beauty for them to walk with dignity, rather than having to hide in dark alleys. I am thankful to walk that journey with you, even if the path is long.

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