Helping Us to be On Guard Against Sexual Abuse in the Church

51jxZCUkl9L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Sexual offenders are not dumb. They are deliberate and calculating. The very things Christians see as strengths—love for others, a trusting disposition—perpetrators see as weaknesses on which they can prey…Many perpetrators know that churches are struggling to find volunteers to help in children’s ministry, and they want to exploit that fact fully.

This statement from Deepak Reju’s book, On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church, is only one of many troubling statements of fact that this eye-opening book records. In his book, Deepak not only heightens the reader’s awareness of the problem of sexual predators, but also identifies false assumptions we make, and deals with types, techniques, and targets of sexual predators. Though we would like to think that this problem does not affect the church, Deepak uncovers reasons why sexual predators find the church to be an especially good target for their predatory behavior. Yet this is not a book intended merely to sober us or leave us fearful in the face of evil. Rather, it is proactive in arming church leaders with eight strategies for protecting the “least of these” against abuse. The advice given is practical, reasonable, and effective—a wealth of implementable strategies for those responsible for children’s programming.  Practical issues such as writing a child protection policy, talking with children about sexual abuse, screening applications, training of volunteers, and identifying sexual abuse are all clearly outlined in the appendices, making this book a very helpful handbook for children’s ministry leaders. Written by a pastor with an obvious heart for the church, Deepak ends his book with strategies for responding in cases where abuse has taken place—both in dealing with the victims and the abuser. Yet perhaps where we see his pastoral heart most clearly expressed is in Deepak’s encouragement to parents to be “an ever-present reality” in their children’s lives.  His last sentences sum up his heart‘s desire for protecting and nurturing children: “Parents, build a strong relationship with your kids. Get to know them. Be a part of their world. Love them such that they will trust you more than anyone else.”  Deepak Reju presented "Protecting Your Church from Predators" during our 2011 National Conference.
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