In whose hands? — Marian Fitz-Gibbon

But do you know in whose?

See, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreaded day of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” — Mal. 4:5-6.

Today many of our children face abuse and neglect at home due to several circumstances. One of which could be blamed on the pressures that have come to bear because of Covid-19. This doesn’t change God’s desire for all children to be protected and for them to grow up and fulfil His purposes. His angels watch over them, yet we hear that the abuse figures, especially sexual abuse, have risen by more than 50% in South Africa. It’s not a matter of class. Rich and poor, well-educated and high school dropouts, little children, good looking and the plain; no group is immune to child abuse.

I felt compelled to write on this topic after chatting to some families about the extreme pressure that they found themselves under due to Covid-19 and some rather vicious family situations. One person told the story of being belt-whipped to the point of just before bleeding. Seeing the shocking abuse figures, I simply couldn’t remain silent. The cherry on the cake, so to speak came when I was asked to review and do an opening prayer for a book on a woman’s life story. I thought the book, In His Hands, would be fairly uncomplicated. It was anything but. It was gut challenging, honest, but thank the Lord there was final redemption.

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Child jumping into her father’s arms and trusting that he will catch her. (PHOTO: Geneva Presbyterian Church)

Years of secrecy
To live for 40 years with debilitating depression, anger and silence in a traditional family encased in a formal religion due to an unreported sexual violation is nothing short of hell on earth. Imagine the mental torture of what shame it would bring the family if anyone should know, who would believe a child against the backdrop of a sweet caring uncle, pastor, priest or teacher. The internal turmoil a child goes through can easily result in deviant behaviour, in mind body or spirit. Some even attempt suicide. You must read this book for yourself.   

This begs the question what are our children to do today where many of them do not come from a traditional family and they face violence and offences on a frequent basis — viciousness and anger that they don’t have the skills nor protection to defend themselves from. Neither do they have the voice to call out for help in many circumstances. I am certain there will be a retort to this with stats saying the numbers of stable families surely outweigh the unstable. I welcome the debate.  

Family foundations
The proper foundation of family life whatever the expression of family needs to be laid in order to protect children.  If one desires is to have children, then there is a responsibility and an obligation to first to the children.  They are not here on earth for our pleasure as toys to be dressed in the best, they belong to the Lord, and we are answerable to the Lord for their outcome. They are born defenceless and innocent.

In Mathew 28 Jesus said to His disciples: “Suffer not the children to come unto me for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” We have been praying and praying for the Kingdom to be poured out here on earth and yet many treat our children with disdain, yell at them through a haze and drunken stupor thinking they don’t know and don’t feel.They do. The Lord does. Have we thought perhaps the Lord is waiting for a change in the way we treat them? 

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” — Matt 18:3

This Scripture brings comfort: As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. —  Psalm 103:13

Why some parents go off the rails
Genesis 1 says we are made in the image of Almighty God. But through choices we go astray, and we must come back to the Father through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. We see that generally parents have this remarkable love for new-born babies with no real intention to harm them but to nurture and care for them. Unfortunately, life happens. Hurt takes place and parents don’t have the skills to deal with it and its the young that get the brunt of it!

If one were to ask any parent why they failed to care for their young, they would in all honesty say it’s their intention to do their best. So, we are looking at possible causes like poverty, mental illness, addictions that could impair the parents’ ability to respond to their dependents’ needs.

What is child abuse?
The causes of child abuse are incredibly complex. Here are a few factors that can lead to physical or emotional abuse: Before there is too much latitude given to incorrect parenting, I would like you to read this Scripture: 

2 Timothy 3:1-7 (TPT) — But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce. People will be self-centred lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly. They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right. With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit. They will find their delight in the pleasures of this world more than the pleasures of the loving God. They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality, they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these! For they are the ones who worm their way into the hearts of vulnerable women, spending the night with those who are captured by their lusts and steeped in sin. They are always learning but never discover the revelation-knowledge of truth. 

Childhood experiences
Some parents who abuse children have been abused themselves or grew up in homes where abuse occurred. Basically, it’s learnt behaviour. That does not mean that every person from an abusive home will become an abuser. Many adults who have had those childhood experiences become advocates for the abused or seek to provide the love and support that was absent in their own homes. Other parents, while never abused, grew up in homes where they never experienced healthy parent-child relationships. As a result, they do not know how to care for their own children.

Judge not
The factors involved in abuse and neglect are extremely complex and involve many facets and people. It is critical that one should not be quick to throw the first stone in judgement. There are many stories untold. Think about the impact the #ME TOO Movement has had around the world. Its not just the one to whom the deed was done; it’s the whole family and community that gets affected. The child becomes revictimised if he or she reports an incident. Perhaps that’s why we should think before we act and take advantage of the innocent. But that doesn’t mean the perpetrator should get away because it get’s messy. We have to learn how to deal with the mess. Take ownership and get help and get transformed. 

Extracts from a word of encouragement (Jamie Rohrbaugh — Charisma Plus)

“My child, I gave you the desire of your heart when I gave you your children. You did not have the capacity at first to love them as I love you, however, so I am giving you that capacity right now.

“My child, I am not mad at you. You have been so faithful. But I want you to know that your children are a heritage from Me; the fruit of the womb is your reward. And I want you to fully enjoy your reward, both for My sake, for your sake, and for your children’s sake.  So, I am anointing you to be at home. I am anointing you to rest and create peaceful places for yourself and your family. I am anointing you to love your children well; to invest in them; to be best friends with your spouse; and to love your spouse as I desire you to love them.

“O My child, you were bought with the price of My Son’s precious blood. Did you really think I would abandon you? I am not leaving you, and you have not lost your anointing. Instead, I have given you a new and greater anointing for the things that really matter the most.

“Beloved one, turn your heart to Me. Turn your heart to the things upon which I am focused, instead of looking at temporal things.

“You were looking at the ‘Martha’ things, but now I want you to look at the ‘Mary’ things of just sitting at My feet, enjoying the children and family I have given you, and investing in them fully before you do the temporal things that concern you in life.

“I am with you always, My child. Never forget it. Love, Abba.”

From home base
Parenting and grandparenting are the most wonderful, challenging and rewarding callings from the Lord. They are a daily call to prayer, they are a heart turned toward the Lord for the destiny of our children and their children. They are eyes open and filled with tears at the sound of His voice for them. I believe good solid Biblical foundations in family are the answer to many of the ills we currently face. I believe its time for the old-fashioned parenting courses to help parents get skilled in the ABC’s of parenting and give our children the foundations that they need for the future. It’s waiting for the sound of Heaven for the children of the Lord.

In case of emergency:

Childline 116
South African Police: Child Safety – 08600 10 111 
Contact the local church in your area
Contact your doctor

Books to read:

In His Hands – Olga Fredricks
Who am I  –  discover your true Identity  —  Elize- Marie Muller 

The signs of child abuse

One of the greatest impediments to reporting child abuse is a lack of certainty. However, even if you only suspect that abuse is taking place you have an obligation to report it. According to Childline, these are some of the signs a child will display when they are in a physically or sexually abusive situation:

Knowledge of sexual acts that is age-inappropriate
Personality changes
Eating disorders/changes in eating habits
Self-mutilation
Running away, rebelliousness
Low self-esteem
Withdrawal, depression, suicidal thoughts
Overly eager to please
Unexplained bruises welts or burns
Reluctance to go home or to school

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