On Tuesday evening, January 13, 2015, I watched on CNN, with tears in my eyes, as an Illinois mother tearfully begged the individuals who had lured her son to join their military organization to please “Leave our children alone.” I can only imagine her sorrow and agony at the crushed expectations and hopes she had for her son’s life. That lady is one of thousands of other mothers around the world who have or are experiencing similar heartaches as a result of this ghastly debacle. In Uganda, Joseph Kony made it his specialty to forcefully abduct young children to join his rebel forces. Kony did not only abduct the children, he forced them to go back and brutally mutilate and murder their own parents as a form of initiation process to qualify them to be “real soldiers” in his army. Boko Haram forces have been abducting young children to fight both the Nigerian and Cameroonian troops. They are reported to have killed those who tried to resist them. Non-state armed groups in Syria have used children as young as 15 years to fight in battles….the list goes on and on.

There are millions of children whose lives have been irrevocably disrupted by war and armed conflict, according to Save the Children, a leading international nonprofit organization for children’s relief. Why is this important for us to know? Because being aware of a problem is being empowered. It helps individuals and organizations come together as a united force, and take steps toward protecting the children. It also helps parents take more interest into their children’s activities so that they can notice the telltale signs of potential engagement and influence from such forces. Parents should proactively talk to their children about the dangers of exposing themselves to suspicious individuals particularly through the social media, without betraying any tinge of panic or hysteria as this can only arouse the children’s interest. Above all, we need to pray for our children’s safety and give the Lord permission to work in their lives to protect them from the dark dangers stalking impressionable lives. We also need to pray for the families that have already been affected, and even for the perpetrators.