Open Eyes, Cautious Minds, Courageous Confrontation
Over the weekend, The Houston Chronicle published a provocative story about abuses recorded in Southern Baptist Churches. It was heart-wrenching, troubling, but not surprising. It’s not surprising because people prey on vulnerabilities in clubs, schools, churches, parks, neighborhoods, and every conceivable setting. It’s the scourge of living in a fallen world. The same freedom we use to worship, others use to abuse. It’s tragic, unjustifiable, and criminal.
So we respond to that reality by making three choices:
- We do everything we can do to GUARD against it. That’s why every room used by minors has cameras. We train every worker with minors to spot suspicious behavior and note patterns that indicate high risk. We screen volunteers and employees through the available government services to detect inappropriate candidates for volunteering. We build layers of security in around these ministries so that we remove as much risk as we possibly can.
- We act on suspicious behavior as quickly as possible. We refuse to simply sit on information, and we have built a reporting culture to be prepared for any incident or dangerous pattern we detect.
- We have invested in a team of counselors so that we have adequate resources to help people throughout our community as they cope with the pain of abuse. We have a variety of men and women with different specializations of training so that we can address a broad spectrum of need.
That being said, no precaution is perfect. I wish we could create a perfect system. But as long as fallen humans are involved, it will always be flawed. We must work to reduce the risk to the smallest we can possible design. It still takes all of us who are parents, volunteers, staff, and other professionals to live with open eyes, cautious minds, and courageous confrontation so that we make this an “unfriendly place” for predators.
It takes all of us to do a job that we wish wasn’t necessary. But it is. Will you lend your eyes, ears, and mind to help us protect those entrusted to us?