This afternoon, my heart is a little battered for others upon hearing tales of upset.
This morning, I made a decision that I will allow God to use me on a deeper, at times scarier level to help them become life changers in their generation! Here's why -
This morning, I discussed bullying with twenty-six 9-11 year olds.
Our theme for our children's ministry this half term is 'The Love Languages.'
I loved how when I told the young people in my ministry group this, there were teeny squeals of "urghhhh love," and mock sounds of vomiting. I also loved how when I explained this mornings session would be 'Affirming words,' they quietened and listened with interest.
They had a knowledge of what it is to affirm someone and we went round the circle each sharing the way we like to be affirmed and made to feel special.
We shared examples of what kindness sounds like in our conversations, and we laughed at daft sounding compliments-which deep in our hearts, we all knew mean so much when spoken over us.
And then we spoke of the opposite of this...then we got onto the topic of bullying.
Every single child I had the privilege of being alongside today - that's 26 in case you've forgotten, each had a tale to share of some kind of bullying experience. Whether it was that they had been bullied and were now on the other side of that traumatic time, had witnessed bullying happening around them, or sadly are being bullied still today - physical but shockingly also cyber bullying.
It was a wake up call I needed if I'm honest.
To see the upset and vulnerability on the little faces sat around me, to witness a boy cry at the nasty words spoken over him, was a humbling experience for me. It made me realise "out there" reader...OUT THERE in that world our children walk through, there are things that can and will damage them if they don't receive the encouragement and truth of just how precious and special they are.
This morning, 5 beautiful children, 1 of them being my eldest son-shared how because they have darker shades of skin, they have been called racist names.
This morning, 3 perfectly-created children told how because of their body shapes and sizes, they had been laughed at, hit and called names...names no-one should ever have to be associated with.
This morning, 6 children shared tales of internet bullying through on-line games and email accounts.
Please...read those sentences again! Absorb those FACTS and think about it.
We need to see a change.
We need to see more kindness in our communities.
We need to see our children protected, affirmed and confident in who they are.
We need to pray to the One who created each one of us for a softening of hearts, for a breakthrough in circumstance-for the bullied and for the bullies. Yes, you heard me correct...I want to pray for the bullies out there. I want them to be so overwhelmed with the opposite of what they dish out, that when they try to yell an insult, their conscience grabs them.
And this morning we did just that. Those 26 lovely young lives, myself and my team - we prayed for one another and we prayed for the bullies. Because we recognise that sometimes, the bully may be the one being bullied elsewhere. A cry for help-that causes more damage than healing...but a cry for help...
I'm not quite sure on the next step...I feel led to take this further and with the help of my team and some of the children I work with, create an awareness campaign.
I would appreciate your prayers if you could...because for sure, I cant leave what I heard today, where I heard it. Our children - they are destined to be life changers in their generations...they really are. And they want it...they have voices...louder than us at times...lets encourage them to use them...together...unity...grace...love...affirming words....a big fat NO to bullying!
In Jesus name x