Is The Young Man Safe (in our church building)?

Warren F. Kenney

You can feel the grief of David as he made the above inquiry concerning his beloved, albeit misguided, son, Absalom (2 Samuel 18:29). The fact of the matter was that the young man was not safe, and David was left to grieve the loss of his son. Short of actual experience, it is hard to imagine the pain that surrounds the loss of a child. We, like David, would gladly give our lives to save theirs.

A short time ago the previously unimaginable happened in Mason, Michigan. A stranger approached a 12 year-old girl in the foyer of a church building and tried to get her to leave with him. Thankfully, his plot was foiled by the quick-thinking girl. Is this not a frightening thing? We never find a place where we can slacken our vigilance over our precious children. They are not truly safe (physically speaking) anywhere. We parents, friends, church members must ever be on guard. Are our young people safe? Are they safe even in our church buildings? If they are going to be safe anywhere on earth, it would seem that this would be the place; but, is it?

Several years ago the elders at Martinsburg asked me to interview a local person who had expertise in child safety in church buildings. They wanted to implement measures that added security to the precious children that pass in and out of our doors each week. I appreciated their concern and conducted the interview. Much of what was suggested was implemented. Here are just a few measures we can take to help protect our children when they are in our buildings. I'm not talking about keeping them out of the parking lot lest they get run over by a car or any such thing. I'm talking about protecting them in other ways such as being kidnapped or abused in a sexual way. Not only do these measures protect the children, but they also protect innocent adults from false charges of abuse.

1. We installed windows into the doors of each classroom so anyone in the hallway can have a means to visually check what is happening in that room at any time.

2. A teacher should never take a child to the restroom alone. Remember, all it takes is for a charge to be made for an adult's life to be turned upside down.

3. Have someone monitoring the hallway at all times. For example, when a child leaves the auditorium during worship, someone should keep a wary eye out for danger. If someone is already occupying the restroom where the child is headed, have the person monitoring to step in, too. This is for the protection of all concerned.

4. Call in a child safety expert to get their suggestions on things you can do to enhance the security of the children that attend services where you are. Begin with the sheriff of your county or the police chief of your town. Listen carefully and apply diligently.

One time at Martinsburg, a young mother screamed that she could not find her child after a morning weekday class during a gospel meeting. The building and grounds were scoured. People from the office building next door poured out to join the search. Just as the father was picking up the phone to call the police, the child was found hiding in a classroom. It was a game to the child, but I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack. One of the office workers from next door placed his arm around my shoulder and assured me that everything was alright. What he did not realize was that I had seen a black car drive slowly through our breeze way just as class was dismissing. That driver might have been a predator looking for just such a child. I do not remember ever being as scared as I was that morning. I am thankful that we have things in place that are designed to enhance the safety of all who come.

What about the congregation you attend, or perhaps oversee? Is the young man safe? -90 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25401.


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