Summary: A sermon on child abuse
1. Tara Cook spent the first part of her life being shifted from one house to another. When she was ten Tara went to live with her dad & his girl friend Rose. All went well for a short time and then Rose began to abuse her. After she had lived there for about 15 months Rose informed her that she would have to do housework to earn her food. The woman was never satisfied though & Tara was hungry nearly all the time. She sneaked two candy bars from the kitchen one night and was caught. Rose handcuffed her to a stair railing. After that she was often handcuffed in a 3 X 3 linen closet. Two months after the abuse began her stepmother informed her that she could dress only on the days she was allowed to attend school, which by now was almost never. The rest of the time she would have to earn his clothing by cleaning house. The cruel woman sometimes made her stand outside naked in the snow for hours. A guidance counselor visited shortly after this and found the young Tara literally shaking. The counselor reported that she was so thin you could see every bone in her body. Thick makeup partially concealed serious injuries to her face, neck & arms. The marks of stove coils covered the back of one hand. Yet, Tara wasn’t removed from the home, at least not then. Rose moved without leaving a correct forwarding address. The following June Rose took the child to the hospital in a coma. She weighed only 35 pounds & her body temperature was only 80o. One side of her face was nearly collapsed, an ear had nearly been bit off. She had spent so much time in the tiny closet that her legs will never completely straighten. In spite of her tragic condition Tara Cook lived. (From a sermon I preached in ’91, not sure of original source)
2. Let me share one other true story. For 19 days 2-year-old Breanna Lee survived in an apartment all alone, drinking toilet water and living on ketchup, cookies and dried pasta she managed to pull off the bottom-pantry and refrigerator shelves. On Sept. 29 she was found dehydrated and malnourished, lying in a plastic bathtub. Her mother, Dakeysha Lee had been arrested, & claimed she had taken her daughter to a neighbor’s house. 1
3. I could go on and on because the tragic stories of child abuse are anything but rare. In fact, let me share some statistics with you that demonstrate how common child abuse actually is. Consider these statistics,
41% of victims are under 1 year old
44% of victims are between 1 & 5 years old
15% of victims are between 6 & 17 years old.
Child abuse by gender
44% of victims are female
56% of victims are male
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System reported an estimated 1,300 child fatalities in 2001.
(Later) An average of 3.5 children per day die from child abuse.
In October, 2003 there were 1225 children in St. Louis County system because of child abuse or neglect. (State of Missouri statistics)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,
3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (NAS updated)
I. Abuse Ignores a Child’s Worth Matthew 18:1-6
1. Even the most basic reading of this passage demonstrates that Jesus loved children. Notice, when Jesus’ disciples came asking who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus called a child to Him and that child became the illustration of Jesus’ statement that about who was great in the kingdom of heaven.
2. Because of that fact, perhaps we need to consider Jesus statement, about humbling ourselves like children. To put it in a nutshell...
We’re to... "become like little children."
3. There might be those who would think "I wouldn’t go back and become a child again. There are some tough parts of being a kid. I understand that. Children can at times be very cruel to one another. However, there is another side of childhood.