Famed painter Vincent van Gogh created this seemingly beautiful painting of The Church at Auvers. But look closely: no doors. It’s how he felt after being denied priesthood, and this is how a growing number of families feel, especially those with special-needs children, due to the solvable but challenging problem of bullying.
Wendy (her real name) writes: “Bullying is why we finally left the church for good. Our special-needs child was being picked on by ‘good Christian kids’ in Sunday School and youth group. Thankfully he doesn’t have the self-awareness to be cognizant of the cruelty, but his sister does, and even though she alerted ‘good Christian leaders’ as to what was going on, NOTHING was done. After several kids picked on both brother and sister (sister for the apparent crime of having a special-needs sibling?) and several emails/phone calls that fell on deaf ears, we were out of there.”
This is just one of growing number of letters that The Protectors receive from families of bullying, one of the most under-recognized and anti-family forces today. Bullying, which is now the most prevalent form of violence our children will experience this year, is an intentional form of abuse that has nothing to do with conflict, misunderstanding or related myths. It’s about deliberate domination and coercion, often through humiliation, isolation, disdain and contempt on behalf of many who believe they are superior to others. So it’s no coincidence that special-needs children are among the most bullied: bullies often believe they are children of a lesser god, unworthy of respect and dignity. Bullying represents some of the darkest and least recognized sins within human nature.
We need people of faith, conviction and compassion to join us in this righteous work created in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). If we care about the health, purpose and reputation of the Church, then we must be willing to tackle this growing problem. Because Wendy and her family don’t just feel betrayed by the Church. Unrecognized and confronted bullying makes people feel betrayed by God, especially when it takes place inside the Church walls.
No one at Wendy’s former church intended to be so blind and ignorant to the tell-tale signs of bullying, and in the process fail to minister upon so many levels. Like most in ministry, they have no training when it comes to bullying. Those in ministry are called to a higher standard, and part of that standard is the ability to recognize and intervene against intentional cruelty and in more extreme cases, evil.
We want to help more churches, Christian schools and related organizations diminish bullying—but we currently cannot meet the tremendous need alone. Many Christian organizations can’t afford our entire program. That’s why we created our introductory, Hero in You faith-based DVD and curriculum. Through this upcoming and inexpensive resource, more organizations will be able to spread God’s love, mercy and justice. But we need your help to complete this resource that is unlike any other in the United States.