Cruel laughter rang in the air. I knelt to help my daughter who lay on her side in the dirt after being dragged by an excited dog. The tears running down her cheeks had less to do with physical pain than with humiliation. For the children that we have been struggling to reach for nearly two years laughed with the intention of causing pain.
Since moving to this place we have seen our community as a mission field that the Lord has led us to. All of the difficulties of dealing with the unsaved are realized as we try to show Christ's love to the children that surround us. While our children are far from perfect, they frequently are left bruised and battered from the confrontations with others.
"She's lying, Mommy" and "They said if we don't do what the want, they are going to tell on us" are complaints that I field daily. Repeated reminders to the visiting children to please respect the property and feelings of others results in nothing but more blatant violations. To them, I have become a symbol of what they do not want to hear. They have never been taught respect and they resent it in my children. Anger at me, seen as an unwanted authority figure, is taken out on my children.
These things cause a deep rooted response in this mother. Had the offenses been dealt to me, I would naturally drop my head and hide, but from the perspective of a mother, I lift my head and feel very much like a mother bear protecting her cubs. The thought that I would like to pick up the cruel ones and toss them away passes through my mind (I can relate to that bear).
So the constant battle rages on. The desire to show Christ's love and the need to protect the tender shoots that we are cultivating. How do we do both? Can we love the others and shield our own?
The thoughts continue to swirl, but one thing I do know. God has given me these children of mine. He expects us to guard and protect them. My first ministry is to those within my home. If I lose them, what joy will there be in reaching others? So we will continue to set up as many boundaries from the world as we are able. Many times we have spent family time discussing the need to be kind and share Jesus with those around us. My children are burdened for the other children and frequently pray for their salvation.
But as a mother, am I doing my job if I fail to ensure them a safe haven where they can be free from abuse? No, we must never return cruelty for cruelty, but they must have a safety zone---a place of escape---as we all do. Someday they will not have me there to provide that shelter, and I pray that they will realize that our Lord provides that place of refuge within His sheltering arms. Until then, I must show them what a refuge can be.
For those who choose to follow Christ, a hostile world is to be expected. He promised that. My children must remember that, as I must. But He has also promised us a Comforter (Jn. 14:16). We are not alone.
"The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalms 9:9, 10
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33