As a church, we are rightly concerned with the needs of the wider world – particularly the young, weak, oppressed and poverty-stricken. But as reach out and pray for those suffering across the world, are we missing the pain on our own doorsteps? In our youth groups or Sunday schools? The contexts and causes may be worlds apart, but it seems that it’s not just children in Africa who are starving to death.
More and more children under the age of 13 are suffering from anorexia or bulimia. These problems are commonly compounded by depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder
The death rate for those affected is similar to that of childhood leukemia. Early intervention and treatment is critical to recovery. Yet on average, children will have to wait eight months before seeing a specialist, with many needing hospital admission and forced feeding. This is according to the first survey of early onset eating disorders, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
It’s not a question of handing responsibility over to schools or doctors. Neither is it about waiting till our kids hit their teens to do the ground work. As this research highlights, by then it is often too late. What’s a great testimony? Is it the woman ‘gloriously’ delivered at 33 from a life-long struggle with anorexia? The miraculous healing? The Damascus experience? Or is it the child who gave her life to Christ aged five and since then, has grown in knowledge and love for Him? Children today are facing challenges that we may never have experienced or assign to a much older age group. They need Christ and they need us – not in five or ten years’ time. Now.