An African Invocation that was used during the Truth and Reconciliation Process in South Africa is a wonderful reminder for all communities worldwide:
Let us take care of the Children, for they have a long way to go.
Let us take care of the Elders, for they have come a long way.
Let us take care of Those in Between, for they are doing the work.
What We Believe and Why We Do This Work:
On Children’s Rights and Child Safety
We believe in the God-given worth and dignity of all children. Children, like adults, are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1: 27) Therefore, we do this work of advocacy for children’s rights, dignity and safety because it is the right thing to do.
We believe in the sacredness and vulnerability of children. A basic belief is that children are human beings, not playthings. As human beings who are young, they have the right to life, freedom and expression. We believe in them as persons in their own right, not objects for control or domination. Because children are vulnerable, we need to provide safe and sustainable environment of care and protection. To paraphrase a noted Wesleyan saying, “Do all the good you can to as many children as you can…Do no harm.
We believe children can teach us about right relationships, and about life in the reign of God. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God?”, Jesus called a child, lovingly placed the child in the midst of disciples and said, “ Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-3) Because children are living metaphors of humility, teach-ability, and openness to the future, we are graced when they are in our midst. “Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5: 8b)
Advocacy for and working with the marginalized is a dimension of doing mission wherever we are. Millions of children around the world suffer everyday due to wars, hunger, poverty, child labor and domestic abuse. Our advocacy and care for children necessarily demands doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God, neighbors, and children. (ref. Micah 6:8) Our work to ensure children’s rights and safety is a clear expression of our solidarity with the most vulnerable and at the same time most wonderful members of God’s family. We believe this is part of what John Wesley called “social holiness.”
- Elizabeth S. Tapia March 8, 2012 General Board of Global Ministries