Understanding God’s Heart for Children: Toward a Biblical Framework

by Douglas McConnell, Jennifer Orona, and Paul Stockl

Written by practitioners, teachers, and theologians, this book offers hope for children through establishing a biblical framework that counteracts the secular devaluing of children.

Authentic Publishing, 1820 Jet Stream Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80921, 2007, 306 pages, $29.99.

Reviewed by Phyllis Kilbourn, director of Crisis Care Training International, Fort Mill, South Carolina.

HIV/AIDS, war, abandonment, exploitation, sexual trafficking, child soldiers, and many other global threats are leaving countless millions of children around the globe with broken lives and shattered hope. The situations of today’s children—aptly described by the United Nations as being the most abused, battered, and exploited generation that has ever lived—often leaves those engaged in ministry to them feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the destructive secular devaluing of children that robs them of all it means to be created in the image of God.

Understanding God’s Heart for Children, written by practitioners, teachers, and theologians, offers hope for children through establishing a biblical framework that counteracts the secular devaluing of children. It maps out God’s plan for children to be cherished, nurtured, and protected through stable and loving relationships in the family, church, and community. The mapping strategy revolves around seven key phrases that provide an overview of a kingdom approach to our responsibility to and for children. An important premise of the framework is that creation and redemption flow through the scriptures and guide our understanding of God’s plan (p. 4). Key ideas include: God creates every unique person as a child with dignity; children need parental love in a broken world; God gives children as a gift to welcome and nurture; society has a God-given responsibility for the well-being of children and families; children are a promise of hope for every generation; God welcomes children fully into the family of faith; and children are essential to the mission of God.

Each chapter examines in depth one of these key ideas. The format of each chapter includes a biblical reflection piece followed by responses focused on critical issues, a practitioner’s response, a case study, and practical implications. This format allows for a multi-faceted approach in understanding the issues in various contexts and in forming a strong biblical base of God’s kingdom values concerning children.

While this book is a gold mine of challenging theological insights that lead readers to a deeper understanding of God’s heart for children, the editorial team realizes that this is not a definitive work; the conversation has just begun. And as the Church deepens the conversation, tackling the global issues confronting the millions of children at risk, children will be restored to their rightful place in the kingdom and receive the “hope and future” promised to them by their heavenly Father (Jer. 29:11).

Check these titles:
Keller, Timothy J. 1997. Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. 2nd edition. Phillipsburg, N. J.: P&R Publishing.

Stackhouse, Max L., Tim Dearborn, and Scott Paeth, eds. 2000.The Local Church in a Global Era: Reflections for a New Century. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

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Copyright © 2008 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.

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