NOTHSTINE: Ode to a child

A child writes his name on the sand during his first visit to the sea. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

I usually don’t watch a lot of local television news. Sometimes it’s just too depressing. But a heartbreaking story out of Fayetteville, North Carolina caught my attention after watching football. A nine-year old boy named Zamarie Chance was beaten to death by his mother in a hotel room in Fayetteville.

Who was Zamarie Chance? Little is known about him from reports which only adds to the sadness of the story. Was he known by many? A follow up report listed him as a student at Howard Hall Elementary School. What kind of dreams and aspirations did Chance have, if any? Was his world already too heavy and crushed for such dreams to exist? Was abuse and scorn typical in his too short existence on earth? Police admitted the mother’s residency has received several visits by officers for domestic disturbance.

The latest news reports focus on the details that Chance died from blunt force trauma after an altercation was overheard and reported by another guest in the hotel room below. Fayetteville police stated after viewing surveillance video that the mom and the boy were the only occupants of the room.

Chance was discovered by police in the room with a considerable amount of blood on and around his body. One police officer said the child “had been beaten from head to toe.” He died at the hospital soon after. Police don’t believe the mother, Crystal Monick Matthews, 35, was under the influence of any toxins or substances that might have altered her mental state or judgement. Matthews has been charged with first degree murder and felony child abuse.

How could a mother do such a thing to her child? There are just a small number of news articles concerning the tragedy posted on social media sites like Facebook. A few commentators made ugly and racist remarks about the mother or the black community. Some others demanded that Matthews be “fried” in the no longer used electric chair or beaten to death herself. If she is indeed guilty of the crime, it is almost certain justice will be appropriately delivered, but it’s still too late for little Chance.

It’s horrific to think about the fear Chance experienced or possibly how he wondered if he would be saved or rescued from his mother’s alleged barbarism. It’s unwise to speculate about the mother’s conscience, but she allegedly coldly wiped out one of the few human beings who had the potential to love her almost unconditionally.

Even when were tempted to focus our attention on the national arena in news and politics, the story too is a reminder about the need to help the defenseless and the young ones in our midst. For Christians one of the most striking commands in Scripture comes from Christ: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me.” Christ adds too with “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

One of the saddest aspects of life is that for some there are children who are unwanted and unloved. Sadly, we live in a country where almost a fifth of all pregnancies end in abortion.

Zamarie Chance deserved so much more than his tragic fate. He deserved to be loved and not just offered material care, but care for his heart and soul. This story is terribly sad and heartbreaking, but one that should remind us too that we must strive to make a difference in the life of a child. Despite all the pressing and urgent concerns in America today, collectively there is little doubt we can do more to protect and cultivate so many precious little ones.

About Ray Nothstine 14 Articles

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the the North State Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute’s Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.