As a child growing up, I like many others, can remember singing the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” If you’re unfamiliar with it, the lyrics say “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” As children, we are told of God’s love for us, and it is supported by scripture. In Psalm 127, we see that “Children are a heritage from the Lord.” We know that in Mark 10, Jesus says “Let the little children come to me…” Yet, in society today, it can, at times, seem like we are failing to do the same; we have failed to love the little children of the world.
We have failed to love immigrant children and child asylum seekers. Recently we heard of the deaths of Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, two child asylum seekers along the border. This news follows news of children and their families being tear gassed along the border and does not include the change in policies as it relates to the treatment of immigrant children and child asylum seekers. As asylum seekers are those seeking safety from persecution in their home countries, it is hard to imagine the ways in which the children are further marginalized. Furthermore, we see parallels in the cases of asylum seekers in the Gospel of Matthew as Mary and Joseph seek safety and asylum in Egypt after they are informed of King Herod’s desire to kill Jesus.
We see the ways in which we have failed to love little black girls. This is evident in the recent shooting of Jazmine Barnes, the 7-year-old girl recently shot in Houston whose killer is yet to be found and in which the motivation is unknown. What type of society do we live in where the life of a child is taken with no explanation? Additionally, there was a recent Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality report that provided data to show that black girls are often considered less innocent and more adult-like. Our lack of love has even prevented us from seeing little girls as children, even those ages five to fourteen which is reflected in their treatment in the education system, in the juvenile justice system and in society more broadly. It is also evident in the ways in which we’ve ignored the stories of sexual abuse and assault of black girls and punished their efforts to combat it. We must return to a place in which we see little black girls the way God sees them, as children created in his image with value and worth.
These are just a few cases in which we have failed to show love to the children of the world; however, these are not the only cases. We have often failed to show the love of Christ to children from varying backgrounds and demographics but especially to those children who have marginalized social identities. Nevertheless, these cases are not hopeless. There are ways in which we can show love to the children in our own communities, in our nation, and in the world. We can begin where many Christians often begin, with prayer. We can pray for the children and those in society who make decisions on topics that impact children ranging from immigration to criminal justice to affordable housing. We can also find ways to advocate for children. We can speak up in the faces of injustices through protest or other means. We can contact our elected representatives and request change. We can read up on these issues and educate ourselves. We can donate school supplies or choose to mentor a child. It is through these actions that like Jesus, we love the little children, all children, red and yellow, black and white.