Editor's note: This is the sixth installment in a series of articles about Christians who rescue cultures. The first installment was The Servant; the second, The Courageous Coach; the third, Saving Our Kids; the fourth, Strength, Courage, Wisdom, and Guidance; the fifth, Prayer Warrior. We hope that through this series you will be persuaded of God’s call for you to rescue the cultures you are in, that you will get ideas from the examples of others and that you will be encouraged to take action in rescuing the cultures around you.
Editor's note: Portions of this article were excerpted with permission from the Empowered to Connect website.
Many families struggle to help their children who don’t respond well to ordinary social situations, refuse affection, or even lash out and control their family through rage and tantrums. These children often come from hard places, i.e. environments where they’ve have been abused, neglected or traumatized, or where they’ve experienced prenatal stress, traumatic labor or medical trauma.
To families struggling with children from hard places, Dr. Karyn Purvis (pictured below) is literally a godsend. Dr. Purvis is the director of Texas Christian University’s Institute for Child Development and co-author of The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family with Dr. David R. Cross and Wendy Lyons Sunshine.
Watching Karyn Purvis interact with children from hard places is a moving experience. Although words can’t adequately capture it, the best description I can offer is that she emanates loving authority. And she is unambiguous about its source: “God’s presence in my life permeates all that I am and all that I do. Knowing His love and grace is central to how we approach this work with at-risk children. My prayer in working with children is that when they look into our eyes, they will see the adoring love of our Heavenly Father.”
The “authority” part of “loving authority” is important, too. Dr. Purvis explains that, “my greatest sadness in observing Christian families with their children is the tendency towards an unbalanced application of God’s love. Some parents administer harsh and swift punishments, based on rules and laws. All too often this approach wounds our children even more deeply and drives them toward more and more aggressive behavior. This cycle becomes destructive between parents and children, and soon children are feeling unsafe while parents are losing their joy in parenting. Other parents err on the side of “cheap grace.” Compelled by their children’s early histories, they don’t want to ask too much and tragically their permissive relationship fails to create trust in and with their children.” According to Dr. Purvis, both nurture (unconditional love) and structure (guidance and instruction) are essential to helping children from hard places heal and flourish in life.
As Dr. Purvis sees it, “the Church is absolutely central to God’s heart for these children! Because so many of them have been wounded by abuse, neglect and trauma, it is critical that our families be in supportive, loving environments that can nurture and encourage them throughout the course of their journey. I am firmly convinced that our churches are the place where this can best happen, but they must be willing to learn and embrace what it means to become this kind of safe and healing place for our families.”
To help churches support and equip families with children from hard places Dr. Purvis has teamed up with Michael and Amy Moore, a couple with four adopted children, to develop a resource entitled “Empowered to Connect.” This website offers valuable content including Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to the Connected Child, a 76-page study guide that provides biblical support for the guiding principles in The Connected Child. If you have or know of families with children from hard places, be sure to let them know about this free resource. You can help others become aware of this ministry by liking it on Facebook or posting it on your blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Dr. Karyn Purvis is an outstanding example of a Christian who is a blessing to families that struggle with children from hard places. In a very real way Dr. Purvis is helping rescue the cultures of these homes. What’s God calling you to do? Read Ephesians 2:10 and pray that God would clearly show you the good work he has prepared in advance for you. What’s one action you can take this week to begin rescuing the cultures you are in?
Michael Lee Stallard speaks and teaches seminars on leadership, productivity and innovation at churches, businesses, schools and government organizations. He is president of E Pluribus Partners and the primary author of Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity (Thomas Nelson).
Publication date: September 25, 2012