Grove City College Department of History Chair Dr. Gary Scott Smith ’72 and his wife Jane Marie Smith ’89 have written “Suffer the Children: How We Can Help Improve the Lives of the World's Impoverished Children,” a book that examines the deplorable situation that the world’s poor children face and offers possible solutions to their heartrending and persistent problems.
The book was inspired by the Smiths’ personal experiences together as foster parents, short-term missionaries and board members of a local aid agency and individually – he served as part-time pastor in an impoverished community and she has worked as an advocate for children and those victimized by human trafficking.
“Our work taught us much about the problems, frustrations and hopes of poor parents and children whose life stories are often heartbreaking. All these experiences convinced us that we should and can do more to help the world’s impoverished children,” Gary Smith said.
“Suffer the Children” is also deeply influenced by the couple’s Christian faith.
“More than 1,000 biblical verses accentuate God’s passionate concern for justice and exhort us to provide just political, economic, and social arrangements and practices,” he said. “The Bible commands us to aid the indigent.”
The book lays out the stark magnitude of the problem worldwide and in the U.S., where more than 20 million children live in poverty. They lack food, clean water, decent housing, health care, education, security, justice and a child welfare system that meets their needs.
“Growing up in poverty has very detrimental physical, intellectual and psychological impacts on children,” Gary Smith said.
But the situation isn’t hopeless. “Suffer the Children” discusses potential solutions for child poverty, analyzes ways to help children and their families in the developing world and at home and features stories of people who have overcome poverty and organizations that are alleviating poverty.
“Because the problem appears to be so massive, it is easy to throw up our arms in despair and conclude that individuals can do nothing to help. However, we can help in many ways. In our book, we discuss the importance of praying faithfully, studying diligently, giving generously, living modestly, volunteering enthusiastically, investing and shopping prudently, supporting candidates who strive to promote justice and eliminate poverty, advocating passionately and working to reform social structures,” Gary Smith said.
The book and its accompanying website (www.sufferthechildrenbook.org) provide resources for those who want to know more about the subject and learn how they can help be part of the solution.
“Suffer the Children” has garnered preliminary praise.
Peter Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International and coauthor of “Mission Drift,” said the Smiths’ book “takes an unflinching look at the hardships faced by millions of children each day, but then also turns our gaze toward approaches and organizations that are creating lasting change. Clear, compelling, and thoroughly biblical, this book envisions a future in which children exchange their suffering for hope.”
Ron Sider, author of “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” and president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action, calls it “a solid help for Christians wanting practical help on how they can act effectively to reduce poverty here and around the world.”
All royalties from the book, published on Feb. 18 by Cascade Books, will be donated to ministries highlighted in the book.
Gary Smith has been on the Grove City College faculty since 1978. He is the author of a number of books including “Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents,” “Heaven in the American Imagination,” “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush” and “The Search for Social Salvation: Social Christianity and America, 1880-1925.”
Jane Smith retired after more than 25 years as a college and university librarian. She has served as a research consultant and editorial adviser on her husband’s books and teaches English as a second language to Congolese refugees and tutors at an inner city school. She previously volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate for children in the foster system.