A Little Kingdom Yeast for Harsh Societies
When her 4-year-old son disobeyed, the mother of two young children in North Africa would burn him with a hot knife.
Sara* felt she was being lenient; when she was a girl, her mother had punished her with cuts from a cutlass heated over fire. A culture with a long history of shaming its children produced adults with fragile egos and hair-trigger instincts to avenge any perceived disrespect, but Sara had known nothing else.
Her son’s slowness to clean up his messes had seemed an afront to her and her authority, she told a social worker for a children’s rights project sponsored by a native Christian ministry. The worker explained how children who are treated respectfully will usually respect their parents in return.
“In the awareness lessons, I learned that I was abusing my children and I should stop doing that,” she said. “I also learned that my children are a great gift from God, and I should love, protect and respect them.”
A culture with a long history of shaming its children produced adults with fragile egos and hair-trigger instincts to avenge any perceived disrespect, but Sara had known nothing else.
Project workers also taught her that children’s primary work is play, crucial for all aspects of their development. When her son grew older and began to lag in his studies, she hid toys in hopes that he would heed her order to study.
“In the awareness sessions, I learned for the first time that playing is one of the rights that children should take and enjoy,” she said. “I was depriving my son of his right to play, and after attending the awareness program, I became more flexible and let him play for some time besides studying. What is really encouraging is that my son passed the final exams and got high scores.”
Rooted in the biblical tenet of valuing, respecting and protecting children, the program teaches children 6 and older to know and claim their rights and raises the awareness of parents, pastors and other church leaders.
“May God use us together to glorify His name and to show His love to the deprived world,” the ministry director said.
The project also teaches the value of education for girls, often lacking in the cultures of the region. The financial pressure on the family from the high cost of private lessons for her son was pressing Sara to encourage her daughter to quit school, until workers spoke to her about the importance of education for girls.
“After I attended the awareness lessons, I decided not to deprive her of her right to education and not to discriminate between her and her brother,” she said.
The children’s rights project is one of many community engagement programs that native ministries undertake throughout the region. Through these programs they knead kingdom values into the dough of society and create opportunities to bring people closer to Christ. Please consider a gift today to help native workers reach their communities and redeem fallen cultures.
*Name changed for security reasons