I'm keen on seeing the UEC take the issue of child wellbeing and protection seriously. In this article I am expressing what I feel and believe the church should be doing for the sake of the children God has placed under her care.
The Bible rightly says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Therefore, the church, family and community should try their best to instil into their children the fear of God, in order to have a future of good people who will obey God, ensure justice and protection for all Children, and counteract the present pollution in our society and the world at large.
How should the Church Respond to the Abuse of Children?
In a report by Eniola Akinkuotu of Punch Newspaper published on the 11th April 2012 and titled ‘Child Abuse, Rape Rise in Lagos’, she pointed out that there was an increase in the case of sexual abuse and defilement of children. According to the report, between the month of January and March 2012, 39 cases of child abuse, 15 cases of rape and 17 cases of defilement were been handled by The Office of the Public Defender of Lagos State! The paper went on to report that between the months of July 2000 to April 11, 2012, 34, 000 matters of both civil and criminal cases had been handled.
The misdeeds of child abuse constitute so grave a betrayal of trust and a grave risk of harm to our children and deserve unequivocal condemnation.
If there be particular problems of child abuse in the United Evangelical Church, including its schools and other institutions, time is ripe for the leadership of the church and the members of the church to identify and shame such evil for the good of all people, not just those within UEC. The misdeeds of child abuse constitute so grave a betrayal of trust and a grave risk of harm to our children and deserve unequivocal condemnation. The church should not relent in her effort to support the beautiful plan drawn by ADVANCE for the protection and wellbeing of all children, including the orphans and vulnerable children within our church and communities.
Therefore, it is in my own view and opinion that the church, from top to bottom, come up with strong measures regarding child abuse, by starting with the establishment and inclusion of the Children Ministry Department in her manner of operation and financial commitment. This should include provisions for:
Children Safety and Wellbeing – safe places to learn, play and interact socially with one another;
Purchasing of Multimedia Tools, including visual aids such as Bible Wall Charts and chilld safety videos, for use within the children ministries of the church;
Training and Re-training of children workers and teachers from the local congregations and schools to the national office, on a bi-annual basis at every Area Conference Headquarters;
Children’s Bi-annual Camp, which is in existence and should continue to develop with modifications for the times we are in;
Security systems in schools and churches infrastructure to protect children from people seeking to harm our children. The children should be taught to be security conscious too;
Feeding and health care services for all children during their stay for either weekly or monthly or annual events, such as Children Camps.
I will like to conclude this brief exhortation here by asking all church leaders and members to put aside any prejudice they may have with regards to children and their safety, and please contribute fearlessly to the discussions on how the UEC and its institutions charged by God with responsibility for the oversight of the care and nurture of children in our communities can perform their tasks without undue risk of abuse and work together to assure the protection of all children.
Resource Persons: The entire workshop was facilitated by ADVANCE Team made up of the Program Manager (Billy Abwa), the Project Manager (Ujah Friday) and the Child Wellbeing and Protection Coordinator (Mary Ugbenyo).