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Abuse is a topic that many of us avoid because it is so difficult to find the exact right words to use. That’s why it is important to discover a new shared language to talk about a topic that has been ignored for far too long.

About five years ago, Safe Church Ministry began to promote a program called Circle of Grace. This came about as several churches asked for updated materials to help people in congregations talk about abuse, especially with children.

Circle of Grace materials are specifically designed for children ages 5 to 18 and are available in both English and Spanish. The lessons are age appropriate and include a common vocabulary to assist in talking about abuse as well as tools that equip children and youth to create a safe environment for themselves and others.

Circle of Grace is different from many other programs. It was designed from the ground up with God’s presence as a central theme. God lives with us in our circle of grace; God loves us, wants us to be safe, and is ever present to help us.

To date, about 80 Christian Reformed churches have ordered the Circle of Grace program, and many have integrated it into their congregational life.

One child named Malachi had this to say about his experience with Circle of Grace: “When I learned more about my Circle of Grace, I learned more things that I should watch out for. My teachers, they’ve all taught me that the circle of grace is the place that you surround myself with people you trust. . . . Yeah, it just makes me feel safe.”

Malachi’s church, Madison Church Ford Campus in Grand Rapids, Mich., has not only integrated Circle of Grace into its children’s programming but has also created an educational night for parents to learn more about what it means to live in their Circle of Grace so that the same vocabulary and messages can continue at home and within the entire church community.

Safe Church Ministry recently partnered with Madison Church to create a new promotional video. The hope is that more churches can learn about Circle of Grace and use this program to help prevent abuse and build safer communities for everyone.

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