HOPE BEYOND ABUSE
The brain is an amazing organ! It manages memories. It learns and can relearn skills. It is the communication center of the body. It sends signals that engage protection responses such as fight, flight, and freeze. When nurtured, its capacity is seemingly endless. But when faced with abuse, the brain can suffer effects long after the body has healed.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the statistics in the U.S. are staggering. Each year, over half a million children are confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. If abuse is so traumatic to the brain, what impact is being had on the physical and mental health of these precious youth? Research confirms the following:
- Mental health problems: A study by the Children’s Bureau found that youth in foster care who experience abuse and neglect are more likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than children who do not experience abuse and neglect.
- Behavioral problems: Youth who experienced abuse and neglect are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression, delinquency, and substance abuse. This can lead to difficulties in school, social relationships, and daily functioning.
- Physical health problems: Youth who experienced abuse and neglect may also suffer from physical health problems such as malnutrition, chronic health conditions, and developmental delays.
- Higher risk of placement disruption: Youth who experienced abuse and neglect may be at a higher risk of placement disruption (i.e. moving from foster home to foster home), which can result in additional trauma and instability. This can make it difficult for youth to form stable relationships and achieve long-term success.
Due to the significant and long-lasting impact on the physical and mental health of youth in foster care, it is important for these children to receive appropriate support to promote healing and recovery. Child welfare services work tirelessly to provide safety and permanency through family support, foster care, and adoption. Yet, we know that the healing journey doesn’t end when the abuse or neglect stops. These hurting children don’t simply need good homes, they need Godly homes. They need the adoption through Jesus, the comfort of His Church, and the hope of heaven.
God is often described as a comforting presence in times of despair. The Bible offers numerous examples of God providing comfort to those who are suffering. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes that God is the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” who comforts us in all our troubles. God is not distant or removed from our pain; rather, He is intimately involved in our lives and offers us comfort and solace in times of need. He comforts us, we comfort others.
In Psalm 34:18, we are reminded that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” This verse offers a powerful reminder that even in our deepest moments of despair, we are not alone. God is there with us, offering us comfort and hope.
Ultimately, God’s comfort is not just a temporary fix for our pain. It is a promise of healing and restoration. In Revelation 21:4, we are told that in the new heaven and new earth, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This is the ultimate hope and comfort that God offers us, and it is a promise that we can hold onto in the midst of our despair.
God’s comfort can take many forms. Sometimes it may be a deep sense of peace that comes over us in the midst of our turmoil. Often, it is simply the knowledge that we are not alone and that God is with us every step of the way. Yet, other times God’s comfort comes in the form of people around us who show us kindness and compassion.
Church, we are God’s hands extended to the hurting–His solution to the orphan and foster care crisis. It’s not a bandwagon ministry, but the purest form of religion (James 1:27). If that sounds like a weighty calling, it is…because we weren’t meant to carry it alone. Orphan care isn’t about some of us doing it all; it’s about all of us doing something. That includes you too! Yes, your church can do orphan care and provide God’s hope beyond abuse.
For 10 simple ways to get started in orphan care, download this FREE resource! Our team exists to guide you on your orphan care journey. Get started today at backyardorphans.org.
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