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Kolar: We need to work a little harder for our children

"Unless we take on the pain, poverty, abuse and trauma of our children, we cannot understand our need to care about them and do what we need to do to keep them safe and healthy and happy," writes Janel Kolar.

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Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the Pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, N.D. (Contributed photo)
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Mark 10:16 NIV - And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

When the Masai greet members of other tribes, they have a rather unique way of doing so. Their tribal greeting isn’t, “How are you,” but rather, “How are the children?” This greeting acknowledges the high value the Masai place on their children's well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own always give the traditional answer, "All the children are well." Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting and teaching the young and powerless, are in place.

The question is one we ought to be asking one another in our own greetings. “How are the children?” The children in this community, the children in this state, the children in this country, the children in our world. How are they? Are we able to answer “All the children are well”? The answer is a very sad and definite “no”.

There are 153 million orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. That’s as many as half the population of the United States. One in six children live in extreme poverty – that’s about 1 billion kids who don’t have food, clean water, homes, access to medical care and education. Over 400 million children live in countries affected by violent conflict; many are forcibly displaced, sometimes orphaned and unaccompanied, in search of safety. Over half of all civilians killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war are children.

In the United States, more than 400,000 children are placed in just over 200,000 foster families every year. A child is removed from their home and placed into foster care every two minutes. Two and a half million U. S. children live in poverty and 1.5 million children are homeless. If we cannot take care of our children, we are not okay. Peace and safety do not prevail and our priority is not protecting, teaching and caring about the powerless.

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Jesus blessed the little children. He understood how important children are to the well-being of his own beloved community. He said unless we become like children, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Unless we take on the pain, poverty, abuse and trauma of our children, we cannot understand our need to care about them and do what we need to do to keep them safe and healthy and happy.

If you are among the fortunate who can truly respond, “All the children are well” when someone asks how it is with your children, I am happy for you. But as a community, a nation, God’s people universal, I think we need to work a little harder so that when someone asks “How are the children” we can truly say, and believe, “ALL the children are well.”

Related Topics: FAITH
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