January 2020 seems like a long time ago. So much has happened since our Extended Cabinet retreat at Epworth Forest when I suggested we stay the course on our focus of being missional in Indiana.
I celebrate that we now have several years of momentum as we strive for 100% of “our churches and pastors engaged in life-giving changes for Jesus Christ in their mission field.” Making disciples for Jesus and transforming the world is still our calling as United Methodists.
At the retreat, I suggested an additional area we could lean into: a new focus on the children in our state and the need to work together to make a lasting difference in their lives.
During this time of camp cancelation, social distancing, and children being at home, we are keenly aware that hunger and trauma of various forms is a reality for many children and families. In the recent weeks of racial unrest and public protest, it is a reminder that not all is right with the world and that Christians have been called to be salt and light and instruments of God’s grace.
I am still convinced that our starting place is always the same: PRAYER!
Children Matter Most is an initiative born of prayer that invites you to identify stories of how you are relating to children or how children and emerging young leaders are leading the way by bringing the light of Christ to our communities in Indiana.
In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund, “No matter the political climate, we need to remain steadfast in our stewardship of future generations and our determination to shield children from harm.”
A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds. A baby is born without health insurance every minute. A child or teen is injured or killed with a gun every 32 minutes. Each day in America, 912 babies are born into extreme poverty. This 2017 data for America can be examined more closely by looking at Indiana and the ways in which children are impacted in the various communities we have churches and partner institutions.
Doing everything is not your responsibility. But doing nothing is not our way as United Methodists.
I challenge you to ask God, “What is my assignment?” then do it. After all, Jesus did more than just talk about children; He blessed them.
“People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, ‘Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.’ Then he hugged the children and blessed them.” -Mark 10:13-16 (CEB)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church