Thursday, July 3, 1997
by Dan Brewster, Compassion Intl.
The first session was an introduction session and the welcoming was done by Ds. Johan du Preez and his pledge was "Give children a voice, starting today,"
Part One: The 4/14 Window
Dr. Dan Brewster led the second session with a presentation on the "4/14 Window." Dan said that since between 60 and 80 percent of people who make a decision for Christ, do so between the ages of 4 and 14, then this "people group" deserves much more prominence in our global evangelism strategies. Dan pointed out that while children may not be a people group in the normal sense of that word, nevertheless they are a definable group with characteristics definable across cultures. As a people group, Dan noted that children are an enormous group, a suffering group, an exploited group, and a largely ignored group in missions strategizing. Dan drew attention to the increasingly vulnerable position of our world's children as detailed in the Oxford Statement on Children at Risk:
Malnutrition: 35,000 children (under the age of 5) die every day as a result of malnutrition or starvation [World Vision].
Abortion: Every year 40,000,000 children lose their lives through parental consent [UN]. This means that 29% of all children are never born.
Sex-Exploitation, Rape and Abuse: There are at least 10,000,000 children currently suffering the oppression of forced prostitution and another 1,000,000 join this industry every year [World Vision, UNICEF].
War: During the period 1984 to 1994, more than 1,500,000 children were killed in wars, over 4,000,000 were disabled, maimed, blinded or brain damaged by wars and 12,000,000 lost their homes as the result of war. During this period, 35 nations are known to have conscripted children into their armed forces [Save the Children, 1994].
Slavery and Abusive child labour: Between 100 and 200,000,000 children are involved in child labour [UN Children's Fund]
Part Two: Networking to meet children's needs in Southern Africa
Patrick McDonald then spoke of the needs, process and progress of networking efforts over the last three years. There are very encouraging developments over the last 3 years. There has been remarkable growth and a remarkable effort to network the Christian community of outreach to children in general and children at risk in particular. The church is awakening to the fact that children are important, albeit slowly. However the lasting fruit of that development is largely dependent upon our ability as a community of outreach to children to find meaningful ways of interconnecting. Building on our common strength, sharing ideas, and information and in all other possible ways enabling all Christians everywhere to engage in a meaningful involvement in ministry to children.
|Credo||"We, the children need our families and churches in times when we are being misused, and neglected. We too can be instruments in the strategy of our Lord to reach the world. We too can pray. We can witness. We can share. We can serve. We can love."|
The consultation's second credo was presented as follows:
The evening sessions addressed the needs of the traumatized child. Formerly abused girls, now healed adults spoke powerfully of the healing power of Jesus Christ. Mrs. Marlene discussed the trauma associated with child sexual abuse, and the effective interventions. The group then explored how practitioners can address these needs in the children they work with.
|We believe God specially cares for needy, traumatized and suffering children and wants to pour out His unconditional love through to the obedient Church.|
The children's track was powerfully supported in prayer by both adult and children's prayer groups. The prayer groups reported back what they heard from the discussion groups and from the Lord. They observed that we should not consider so much what the child is today, as what he may become tomorrow, and that today's unchurched child is tomorrow's criminal. They emphasized the importance of teaching and to guiding until transformation takes place. Finally, the group affirmed the value of the unborn child. God ha as plan for every unborn child: Before I formed you in the womb... Jer. 1: 4,5. Psa. 139.
The emphasis was on children and missions. Discussions centered around ministering to children in unreached areas. The importance of being transparent with parents and involving them wherever possible was emphasized. It is felt that many parents are quite happy when any one cares about their children, and this can open doors of receptiveness on the part of both children and parents. It was also acknowledged that there are opportunities for children themselves to be missionaries, even to unreached peoples areas. Children's singing groups and other ministries involving children working, playing, or praying with children can be effective in sharing the gospel with unreached children and families. Children's singing groups for example can be powerful witnesses to the lost.
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