Do you have children of your own? Remember what it was like when you were their age? What is your favorite childhood memory? Maybe it was playing in a treehouse in the backyard. Was is playing at the park near your home with your best friend, or under the sprinkler on a hot summer day? Perhaps it’s time spent around the dining room table with your family?
As pleasant as those memories are, being a kid isn’t always that easy. Most of us have painful stories of growing up as children. We may have been bullied in school, or mistreated, or neglected, or forgotten.
The challenges children face
As traumatic as those struggles were, the children today, both beyond our shores and here at home, have unimaginable barriers to overcome to have a normal childhood.
Save the Children released a report which lists the best and worst places to be a kid. No surprise: Chad, the country where we have spent most of our lives in service to others through Christ, is the 7th worst place to grow up. The six other nations below Chad are all on Africa, including Niger, which is Chad’s neighbor to the West.
According to the report, Here are the seven factors which rob children of a normal childhood:
- Poor health
- Displacement to refugee camps due to conflict
- Extreme physical violence by family members, gangs and evil people
- Child marriage, and early pregnancy
- Malnutrition, famine, etc.
- Exclusion from education
- Child labor
Those are the problems. Here are two practical ways to help them:
The first solution is obvious: If you have your life ahead of you and are willing to do something amazing with your life, think first about becoming a doctor, a nurse, a teacher or a development worker in a refugee camp.
Here in our home country, doctors work with patients, some of whom are unwilling to take care of themselves. Then, once you cross the thin line into one of the countries listed in the report, doctors struggle to keep up with the hundreds of patients, all desperately needing their attention.
Here, teachers teach children, some of whom won’t realize the value of their education until after graduation.
And, here there may not be any refugee camps, but our assistance to refugees here and those abroad can make an eternal difference.
However, you don’t have to go overseas to reach out to children in crisis! Find out if there is a local church that is reaching out to refugees or serving struggling families. Contact children’s ministries like Child Evangelism Fellowship and refugee outreaches going on all around us.
In fact, Desert Springs Ministries exists to provide God’s people with discreet but effective tools to bless refugee children and their families around you. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.
If for some reason you are unable to serve children overseas, please consider supporting those who train and send them out: Samaritan’s Purse, the Mennonite Central Committee, Open Doors, Youth With a Mission and Voice of the Martyrs. These are agencies that we have seen in action on the field, and are assured that your donations will meet the needs of children who need our help.
We have a third, practical, not-so-obvious solution to mention in our next post. I’m looking forward to catching you then.
What are you going to do to help children at risk? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.