Child Welfare

Stay Strong: Fight Back

The last few weeks have been a very difficult time for so many of us and we may want to give up the struggle to ensure every child an equal chance to live and learn and grow up safely in our boastfully rich and militarily powerful but spiritually anemic nation that lets children be our poorest group of Americans. At one of my very discouraging times, I heard my beloved late spiritual director Gordon Cosby of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. read this “Request for Transfer” by an unknown author which I return to at very tough times. In this period of political turbulence and division I wanted to share it to spur us forward to save our children with all our hearts and minds and strength.

Please refresh yourself throughout this holy season of Hanukkah and Advent as those of us who are Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of the most famous poor baby in history. Let us emerge with new determination to keep moving forward for children and the poor.

“Request for Transfer”

To: Commander-in-Chief
From: Battlefield Soldier
Subject: Request for Transfer

Dear Lord,

I’m writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job. I herewith present my reasons:

I began my career as a private, but because of the intensity of the battle, You quickly moved me up in the ranks. You made me an officer and gave me a tremendous amount of responsibility. There are many soldiers and recruits under my charge. I’m constantly being called upon to dispense wisdom, make judgments, and find solutions to complex problems.

You have placed me in a position to function as an officer, when in my heart I know I have only the skills of a private. I realize that You promised to supply all I would need for the battle. But sir, I must present You a realistic picture of my equipment. My uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with tears and blood of those I have tried to help. The soles of my boots are cracked and worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and encourage the troops.

My weapons are marred, tarnished, and chipped from constant battle against the enemy. Even the Book of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered from endless use. The words are now smeared.

You promised You would be with me throughout the war, but when the noise of the battle is so loud and the confusion is so great, I can neither see nor hear You. I feel so alone. I’m tired. I’m discouraged. I have battle fatigue.

I’d never ask for a discharge. I love being in Your service. But I humbly request a demotion and transfer. I’ll file papers or clean latrines. Just get me out of the battle — please, sir.

Your faithful, but tired, soldier,
John/Jane Q. Servant

To: Faithful but Tired Soldier
From: Commander-in-Chief
Subject: Request for Transfer

Dear Soldier:

Your request for transfer has been denied. I herewith present My reasons:

You are needed in the battle. I have selected you, and I gave My word to supply your need. You do not need a demotion and transfer. (You’d never cut it on latrine duty.) You need a period of “R and R” — renewal and rekindling. I am setting aside a place on the battlefield that is insulated from all sound and fully protected from the enemy. I will meet you there, and I will give you rest. I will remove your old equipment and make all things new.

You have been wounded in the battle, My soldier. Your wounds are not visible, but you have received grave internal injuries. I will heal you. You have been weakened in the battle. I will strengthen you, and I will be your strength. I will instill in you confidence and ability. My Words will rekindle within you a renewed love, zeal, and enthusiasm.

Report to Me tattered and empty. I will refill you.

Your Commander-in-Chief, God

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.