The news out of Penn State and the vulnerability of my oldest son, who could never tell us if someone was hurting him, make me very grateful that Bethlehem takes the safety of children seriously. It begins in their vision statement for child and youth discipleship, written by Pastor David Michael, who is also a champion for our children with disabilities:
We believe that God is honored when persons created in his image are treated with honor and love for the sake of Christ. Therefore we stand firmly against the cultural trend of cheapening and dishonoring human life.
I love my church, but with almost 5000 people attending on three different campuses I know there are child predators attending. Some are fighting that sin but remain a risk to children. And there are those who are seeking to take advantage of children and believe a big church would give them easy access. Yes, that sickens me, but we don’t have any choice but to proactively protect all children, including our children who cannot communicate or are otherwise vulnerable because of their disabilities.
I’m very grateful for so many things at Bethlehem related to this issue:
- A clear warning about the reality of sin and the need to fight it
- The call for men to be protectors of the vulnerable; to serve them and not to use them and certainly never to abuse them
- Strong statements about the blessing that all children are
- Proclamation of God’s regard for the vulnerable, and the consequences of his wrath for those who would hurt them
- Background checks for all volunteers
- A rotating check-in system
- Clear standards for conduct by volunteers, including observing the behavior of other volunteers/staff around children
- Using the civil authorities (police, etc) when a child is in danger