(Photo: Lisa Kae Photography)
The head of an evangelical organization committed to the care and defense of children believes that combatting child abuse and neglect is "putting the Bible into practice."
Tom Pearce, national director for Shepherding the Next Generation, told The Christian Post about the growth of efforts by churches to deal with the issue of child abuse and neglect.
"I see it as something that is going to continue to grow. More and more pastors all around the country are realizing … the need within their community," said Pearce.
"If they as churches can be prepared to help … in building awareness, helping to bring prevention programs, get their congregational members to volunteer in organizations that do coaching and do other things to help in the prevention, it's putting the Bible into practice."
Pearce, who served six years in the Michigan House of Representatives, was recently appointed to his national director position and told CP how he stumbled upon Shepherding the Next Generation.
"When I left the Legislature I began doing some consulting work both with legislative issues and also in the faith community which caused me to look for new clients on a fairly regular basis," said Pearce.
"In doing so, I ran across Shepherding the Next Generation … I decided to put my company into hibernation and come and join this organization. That occurred in early February, late January."
Pearce's remarks to CP come as Shepherding the Next Generation partners with other organizations to observe the upcoming Blue Sunday, which will take place Sunday.
Sponsored by the Blue Sunday Child Abuse Prevention Initiative, Blue Sunday will be an international prayer effort by churches to call to awareness victims of child abuse and those who rescue children from states of abuse.
According to organizers, an estimated 500 churches and one million people have committed to participate in the call to prayer, including several megachurch pastors.
"Join churches across the nation as they take the time in their morning service to pray for the victims of child abuse and those that rescue them. It's that simple. There's nothing to join and no fees to participate," reads the "Register/Get Involved" section of their website.
"We do ask you to register so we can monitor our growth and effectiveness. Your organization can take the lead in making a difference in child abuse prevention efforts in your community."
When asked by CP about what things can be done to combat child abuse and neglect, Pearce of Shepherding the Next Generation believed that the faith community should "build awareness of the needs of children particularly in pockets of poverty."
"We want to encourage the church, big c little c, to see it as a mission field within their own broader communities that they should be involved in," he said.
Pearce also emphasized the importance of the faith community to lobby at the state and federal levels regarding programs that deal with the problem of child abuse and neglect.
"We also are very much aware that there public policy programs that our policymakers at the state and federal levels continually look at, decide whether to fund or not," said Pearce. "So we as a faith community are communicating with policymakers and saying we want to make sure our tax dollars are being used wisely and here are the programs."