By Leilani Corpus
Published January 1, 1989
GAINESVILLE, FL (FR) – A Christian song about child abuse became one of the top 10 hits on secular radio stations throughout the U.S. during the last few weeks of 1987 and prompted several child abusers to seek rehabilitation.
A woman told a Fort Worth radio station that the song forced her to think of how she’d beaten her child. “I realized that the cycle of abuse was continuing with this generation. … The cycle stops with this letter,” she wrote.
The song is from the album “Shelter From The Storm” by PowerSource, a Bedford, Texas-based evangelical youth chorus featuring nine-year-old soloist Sharon Batts.
The song begins, “Dear Mr. Jesus, I don’t understand why they took her Mom and Dad away. I know that they don’t mean to hit with wild and angry hands. Tell them just how big they are, I pray.” Dear Mr. Jesus, they say that she may die. Oh, I hope the doctors stop the pain. I know that you could save her and take her up to the sky so she would never have to hurt again.”
The record cracked Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 singles chart at 63. It was considered a fast-rising song, according to Thomas Noonan, the magazine’s director of charts. “This falls into a different category,” Noonan said. “It’s a topical record that happened to hit on a sensitive area at a sensitive time. This kind of phenomenon is exciting to our business.”
The nine-year-old vocalist Sharon Batts appeared with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football league team at a benefit for child abuse crisis centers in the Tampa area in December. She said she is pleased when she hears stories of people who have been touched by the song. “It makes me feel good because I know that those people haven’t had help,” she said.
About 100,000 copies of the single have been ordered, although only 15,000 copies have been sold. Sharon’s mother, Jan Batts, is the group’s creative director. “It has just grown so fast,” she said. “It’s difficult to say it’s under control.”
The Gospel Workshop for Children Inc., a non-profit, non-denominational group, started PowerSource five years ago to produce records and videos for troubled children who have no one to help them. The group commissioned songwriter Richard Klender to write “Dear Mr. Jesus” at the suggestion of a board member who had been abused as a child.
In some cities, record stores and radio stations are joining to sell the album and are giving the profits to local child abuse crisis centers. Proceeds from orders made directly to PowerVision will be used to offset distribution costs which the tiny record label has accrued, Batts said.
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