I shudder to think about what’s happening to children at the hand of adults these days. It’s not the world I grew up in.  Maybe every generation says that…

My parents raised me in a community that cared about children and respected a parent’s responsibility to raise them well. My parents invested much in me, but there were other adults who were formative in my life. They received me into their sphere of influence.

The public school I attended hosted the traditional first grade play. From among the 40 or so first graders, one would recite the 23rd Psalm and lead in the Lord’s Prayer. Our teacher Lila McDuffie selected me and helped me prepare. I was confident as I stepped behind the “pulpit” and faced the audience.

Before young Gloria Thurmond (see autobiography “Gloria!”) set out on a lifetime of missionary service in Bangladesh, she visited my church’s Sunbeam class for children. She appeared wearing a traditional Saree, a long cloth garment that could be worn in various ways. Suddenly, the world seemed smaller and less mysterious to me, with fascinating cultures different than the deep South.

Edgar Davis was a pastor to our community. When I was 14, he asked me to play hymns on the piano for the worship service he conducted at the nursing home. Walking those halls my young eyes saw some shocking things, but he talked me through it. He helped me see that ministry includes serving people outside the walls of a church building.

Don Tennyson formed a contemporary Christian youth band and ensemble when I was 16. He selected me for the band. It was a heady experience when we procured a touring bus and took our troupe on the road for 10 days. What started out as fun turned into hard work, problem solving, and relationship management. We grew up a lot on that trip.

Here’s your takeaway.  Invest in a child. Let him or her see your faith in action. Train them by providing opportunities to serve. Protect them from “the serpent of old…who deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).

Children matter to God. “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me,” Jesus said. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:5-6).

While the millstone factory is working overtime, you have a better option.  Receive a child. Train him in the way he should go. Give her hope and opportunity. And some day a man in his 60’s will reflect on his life and remember that you did, and he’ll credit you with why he did the same.