The young boy walked into the coffee shop, a shy smile on his face when he saw me. I rose from my place, walked over to greet him and invite him to my table. Tall for his age, at ten, he would have passed, easily, for twelve.
We met first when I popped in on a friend, and he and his mother were there. My friend steered the conversation, almost abruptly, toward my work with sex abuse victims; her reasons soon revealed; it had recently come to light that the woman’s son, Perry, was molested. In the ensuing moments, I heard a story of betrayal and grief, as raw pain spilled from a mother’s heart.
Listening to her story, I thought how, moments earlier, Perry had come to tell his mother he was heading to the park. Upon seeing me, he stretched out his hand and introduced himself, confidently, holding eye contact–something that stood out from one so young. As Perry’s mom shared how they had walked with him, reassuring him, and removing guilt for the crime committed against him, assuring him it was not his fault, his confidence made sense. Nonetheless, she wondered if I would consider meeting with him. They had involved a social worker, a counselor and done all they could, but felt he needed someone, and feared he was withholding something.
When he walked into the coffee shop, the confidence replaced with a shy smile, I wasn’t surprised. What young boy looks forward with great enthusiasm to talking with a virtual stranger about being abused? Still, he had said he wanted to talk to me, when his mother explained what I do.
We chatted at length about school and what he loves to do, his hobbies, and other casual conversation. When we were both comfortable, the conversation turned…
In the ensuing moments, I heard the heart-breaking struggle of a child, stripped of innocence and hurled into a world of knowledge that he should not have discovered for many years. He told me how the neighbour boys made fun of him, because he had tried to do to another little boy what was done to him, and got caught.
“How does it make you feel, now, talking about it?” I asked.
“I feel bad,” he said, head bowed.
“Do you know why it makes you feel bad?” I asked.
“Because it was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said.
“Right. You told the social worker, and apologized, right?” I asked. He nodded. “So what do you do with those feelings?” I asked.
Perry shrugged, then looked up at me with tears in his eyes, “I talk to God.”
“What do you say?” I asked.
“I tell Him I’m sorry. And I ask Him to forgive me,” he said.
“Do you understand that He has forgiven you?” I asked. Again, he nodded. “What else do you say to God?”
“I ask God to forgive the person who hurt me, to help him never hurt anyone again…” he said.
In that moment, in the middle of a conversation with a little boy, I wanted to kneel down and weep for the children who are so carelessly overlooked, many times. Instead, we continued the conversation and I reassured him, saying I believed he would never hurt anyone again, and how kind it was that he would pray for the person who hurt him.
Later, alone, I wept. Is there anything more heart-breaking than a child, whose innocence is so disrupted, carrying the burden & consequence of their abuser’s sin? And is there anything more touching than to hear his voice, praying for his abuser? If I could have captured that sweet voice, sharing his prayer, I would like to think it might have changed thousands of lives…
Oh, church, I plead with you to hear this little boy’s heart cry. He is not the first child to carry this burden and pray this prayer. Tragically, he won’t be the last. His innocence was stolen, creating in him a temptation to hurt other children. Fortunately, he got help before he ever reached his teen years, and the likelihood that he will offend, with appropriate support, is low, but he will always carry the scars of what was done against him.
We must rise up–pastors, parents and men and women of God–and stand in the gap for these little ones! God does not take lightly the violation of a child’s spirit. It is the only sin for which Jesus said, it would be better that a millstone were hung about that person’s neck, and they be drowned in the sea. He goes on to say that a child’s angel always beholds the face of God, indicating there is an intimate connection between God and children, and angels and children. Should we, God’s sons and daughters, not reflect that same care? Should we not look upon such injustice and act?
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
God is raising up warriors to stand in the gap for these little ones. He is calling pastors, teachers, parents and godly men and women…. Will you turn a blind eye, or will you do the right thing, and honour God?
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger
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