In the opening verses of Matthew 18, Jesus says that there is no spiritual hope for adults unwilling to humble themselves like children before God and His Word. In that connection, here’s a brief account of exemplary childlike faith, in children themselves:
On July 10, 1863, the New York Times editorialized that it was obvious the nation needed another 300,000 troops to finish off the Confederacy, which had recently suffered strategic defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. The draft lottery began the next day, and it soon became clear that hosts of New York immigrants did not share the paper’s sense of enthusiasm for military conscription. The Irish in particular were incensed at the attempt to force them into “what some of them called a ‘n_____r war’—requiring them to risk their lives to free black men who would soon compete for their low-paying jobs.”
Five days of rioting hit Manhattan, where the mob turned on local blacks, lynching as many as 11. Particularly vile was their assault on the Colored Orphan Asylum, which they burned to the ground as the children and workers fled for their lives, amid cries of “Burn the n_____rs’ nest!”
One boy got separated from the others and went up to a house seeking protection. Fearing mob violence if she gave him help, the lady of the house called out for assistance to a passing Irishman, who happened to have done some work at the orphanage in the past. He wrapped the child “in a cloth and carried him like a bundle to his own home.”
From the minutes of the Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans (1836-1936), we learn that the spirit of the young occupants of the orphanage mirrored that of Psalm 23: Though they “walked through the valley of the shadow of death,” they understood that God could “prepare a table before them in the presence of their enemies.” We read:
Teachers had gathered the orphans into a common room. There, one of them implored the frightened boys and girls: “Children, do you believe that Almighty God can deliver you from a mob?” They answered yes. “Then I wish you now to pray silently to God to protect you from this mob. I believe that he is able and that he will do it. Pray earnestly to him, and when I give the signal, go in order, without noise, to the dining room.” From there the teachers led the crying children outside amid “the yells and horrible sounds” directed at them from the rioters.
(As they had prayed, none were lost.) The minutes continued:
One little girl, as she walked through the Dining Room, took up a large family Bible, to which she had been accustomed to listen twice each day, and looking up at the Superintendent with a sweet smile, her whole face beaming with the love of God; she said, Mr David, I’ve got the Bible. This dear child carried this treasured volume from the Asylum to the Station House and then to Blackwell Island.
That Bible now resides at the New York Historical Society, testimony to the grounding these young wards had in the knowledge of the power and goodness of God.
 Harold Holzer and the New York Historical Society, The Civil War in 50 Objects (New York: Viking/Penguin, 2013), 203, 205.
 Ibid., 211.
 Ibid., 212.
 Ibid., 211.
 Ibid., 213.