As a mother of two young girls, there is nothing more disconcerting than dropping your child off in a new facility. There are countless unknowns: How closely will they be watched? Is there a plan for exiting the building in an emergency? Who are the people caring for them while I am away? When I have gone into a place that has clearly thought through measures to help keep my children safe, I am much more likely to return. When an organization demonstrates the forethought of intentional safety measures for the people it serves, it is exhibiting a vital component of hospitality. Safety and hospitality go hand in hand, and one of the reasons ECAP exists is to help your organization be thoughtful in how they care for others, especially the most vulnerable.
ECAP exists because we recognize the reality and consequences of sin on our world. Acknowledging the propensity within human beings to commit heinous acts of violence against one another is the first step in understanding abuse prevention. We soberly recognize that because of this reality, children are some of the most vulnerable individuals and in need of protection.
Our goal at ECAP is to help your organization consider the necessity of abuse prevention and help you implement policies and procedures to protect the most vulnerable among you. We believe the Bible provides at least three principles in answer to the question: Why ECAP?
- We believe all people were made in the image of God
In Genesis 1:27, we see God creating man and woman “in his own image.” Human beings were the crown of creation, made to reflect and represent God’s rule and character. This title for human beings is distinct and has implications for how we view ourselves and one another: Each individual is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. Understanding image bearing means that as believers, we seek to honor, value, and protect other image bearers for the purpose of declaring God’s care for his unique creation. We believe image-bearing begins at conception and desire to exhibit a whole-life, pro-life ethic. God calls his people to radical hospitality for each individual because He has gifted them all with the privilege of bearing his image. How could we do less?
2. We see how Jesus cares for children
In Matthew 18, Jesus explains his love and care for children. Verse 5 tells us “whoever receives one such child in my name receives me…” Jesus models for us that he values children so much that he gives a warning in verse 6, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Jesus cares for the souls and protection of children to the extent that he says it would be better for someone to die than to cause a child to be led astray.
Jesus’ care for children is a model for how we are to prioritize and value children as well. Those with the least status, the “smallest” to offer, and the most vulnerable are the ones Jesus goes out of his way to honor. As God’s people, we seek to do the same. This means establishing intentional measures to ensure the protection of children under the care of your ministry. Christ-centered hospitality means having eyes to see and meet the needs of the least among us.
3. We believe Abuse Prevention is a matter of Stewardship
Abuse Prevention is a matter of stewardship for the people of God. Jesus rebuked the disciples in Matthew 19:14, saying “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
As churches and ministries that seek to honor God, we want to steward our resources in a way that represents the heart of Christ. This responsibility includes doing what we can to provide a safe environment for children to flourish and grow, which involves ensuring appropriate means of accountability within our areas of ministry. In Luke 2:40, Jesus goes to the temple as a young boy and ends up staying behind to learn from the teachers there. Our desire is to appropriately steward the spaces God has given us and make them as safe as possible to allow children to learn, ask questions, and grow in “wisdom and stature” in the same way Jesus did (Luke 2:52). Another hallmark of hospitality is thoughtfully stewarding the spaces God has provided for the purpose of serving others and advancing His kingdom.
Abuse prevention matters because we are convinced that all people are made in the image of God, Jesus cares for the most vulnerable among us, and because we are called to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us. Abuse prevention requires being considerate and thoughtful of others, prioritizing safety in such a way that Christ-centered hospitality is on display, and protecting those who have been entrusted to you. ECAP wants to help your organization to accomplish these things because we believe abuse prevention is one of the ways to display the goodness of the gospel in how we love, serve, and care for one another. Our prayer is that these measures will help create a safe environment for the powerful advancement of God’s kingdom.