As I write to you, we are in the midst of “Child Protection Week”. This is an annual focus in Queensland and across Australia, working under the auspices of “NAPCAN” and in Queensland “Act for Kids.” The National Association for Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) began in 1987 to address the mistreatment of children. The 1980s was a time when this subject of child abuse and child neglect didn’t have the profile it has today.
At first glance, it may not be so obvious just how significant children actually are in the focus of our Lutheran Communities in Queensland. But with a closer look you will see that we spend so much of our energies in our Lutheran Church in Queensland, working for the well-being of children.
We provide Queenslanders with “QLECS: Queensland Early Childhood Services,” working with little children and their families. We provide Queenslanders with “Lutheran Education Queensland,” supporting young people and their families throughout school years. We provide Queenslanders with “Lutheran Youth of Queensland,” guiding young people through their school and young adult years. Our congregations across Queensland (and with a little bit of New South Wales) engage young people and their families with communities of faith to grow as God’s people. We provide Queenslanders with support through the agencies of Lutheran Services including youth services and disability services, even Aged Care communities, all of which touch the lives of young people and their families.
So in a profound way, “Child Protection Week” is at the heart of our life and work as the Lutheran Church in Queensland.
This is because children and their well-being are at the heart of our gracious Lord Jesus, who kindly gathered little children around him and blessed them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19). Our Lord spoke these words in the context of the ancient world where little children did not have the opportunities or consideration that they are given today. So as a Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, it should be no surprise that we are so busied with working for the well-being of “little children.” That makes this week of “Child Protection Week” of special significance to our Church. We join with those who work for the well-being and protection of children and we ask that the Lord of the Church would enfold all children in his care, that they would be free of harm and that they might live good lives.
This brings to mind the words of a popular folk song that captures the heart of our Lord: “Jesus loves the little children – all the children of the world.”
(In our previous newsletter, I reflected on getting a COVID19 swab test. It returned negative.)