Go and see: a better peace for our children
By Rev. Dean McDonald
Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.
Reflection: Disciples in the FJKM (Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar), a sister church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), are ministering every day to children who are abused, malnourished, disabled, or simply in search of a better future. On our study trip with the Peacemaking Program last fall, we visited schools that board these young ones who have been rescued from the streets, or who have chosen to move out of their homes in order to get a good education in a safe and faith-filled environment. No matter their background or condition, these children are surrounded by love, taught about Jesus, and trained for a much more hopeful future.
Action: Consider what is most influential in the lives of the children you know. Is your church community providing nurture in the “right way” as the New Revised Standard Version puts it? Or, as Eugene Peterson translates, are they being pointed in the right direction so they won’t be lost? It takes hard work and dedication to ensure children are receiving what they truly need for a meaningful life of faith. Possible ideas for action include scholarships; tutoring programs; a vacation Bible school or after-school program matching two congregations of different backgrounds; parent training classes open to the community; a Sunday school equipped to include students with special needs; or distributing school supplies where needed.
Prayer: O God, our hearts break to know of impoverished children who go hungry, whose bodies are trafficked, and who are without access to healthcare, good education, or spiritually strong influences. Have mercy on them. May the many ministries of the FJKM continue to work toward ending the punitive cycles of poverty, and uplifting the lives of the children in Madagascar. May our own churches reach out with compassion and guidance to the young in need. In the name of the One who loved the little ones, Amen.
Rev. Dean McDonald is a Presbyterian pastor who has served churches in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. She was director of Cathedral College and worship leader at Washington National Cathedral, taught at National Cathedral High School, and was chaplain at National Presbyterian School. As a marriage and family therapist, she has taught pastoral care in several seminaries. Dean traveled with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program to Madagascar in November 2017.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.