Befriending Street Children Part-IV

By: Rev. Dr. H.M. Songate

Can the church also say “Bring the children unto me”?

Rev. Dr. H.M. Songate
Rev. Dr. H.M. Songate

Why do we prioritise children in our ministry? Why only ‘girl child’? Why do Christian churches and NGOs like World Vision International, Compassion International, Save the Children fund, etc focus on child related activities? Why are millions and millions of people sponsoring and supporting children across the globe? Why are even poor people sponsor and support children through these organizations? Who’s business is ‘these children’ anyway? Are the churches in India doing enough for children? Or are we doing at all? Do we have the heart to share our blessings to at least one poor child? Or at least a willingness to help these needy children who need care, help and love? Traditional approach to children by the disciples in the bible is truly pathetic! It is just “send them away approach and attitude! Let them play and not bother us!” Is the church today, still employs that school of thought? Let me just highlight few of the information I had noted down from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), WVI and CRY.

  • 3518 children were abducted in 2005 in India which is a much better record than that of 1999 where 6882 were recorded as abducted! It is believed that many abductions were not reported due to fear of repercussion and ignorance
  • Today, it is believed that there are kidnapping and abduction cases every 21 minutes in India!
  • 14,975 cases of crimes against children are recorded in 2005
  • Study of 600 English speaking, middle and upper class women in metro found that 457 of them had been sexually abused in their childhood! If this is the case of elite families in our country, can you imagine what would be happening among the poor and the downtrodden families? (Source Delhi based RAHI)
  • 3 lakh children die every in India due to micronutrient alone
  • 53% of girl child drop out in school. 76.55% in Assam,  and 84% in rural Tripura
  • 15 million children die of hunger every year. (UNICEF)
  • 600 million Asian children live in abject poverty (Global Aid Agency Plan)
  • 3 lakh children are forced to drop out of school due to their parents’ sickness every year
  • 1.8 million are forced into prostitution

“Child sexual abuse is an Indian Family’s deepest, and most jointly held secret”. Says Pinki Vikram in her book, “Bitter Chocolate-Child Sexual abuse in India”.

Children: Who are they?

  • 4/14 window
  • 2004 population 1826 million
  • 1/3 world population
  • ‘children are future leader’
  • 414 million children with 26 million added yearly
  • 5.2 million child laborers
  • 3.4 million children  with HIV & AIDS  infection worldwide        
  • 1 Crime against children every 35 minutes
  • Two out of every three children were physically abused.
  • 88.6% were physically abused by parents.
  • 50.2% children worked seven days a week.
  • 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
  • 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
  • Children on street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
  • 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.

(Study on Child Abuse India 2007 by Ministry of Women & Child Development GO)

“Statistic never bleed, People bleeds” says Dr. Jayakumar Christian. Indeed, it is children who bleed! It is the lowest strata of the societies who bleed. It is the young and innocents who bleed daily. Their pains are not shared. Their cries are not heard. Their stomachs are not filled. You can make a difference in the life of a child. There are numbers of people who had made a difference in my life since my childhood. One of them was Mrs. Sanford E Carlson. When Sielmat Christian High School had introduced school uniform in 1966, I was one of those children who could not afford to have uniform. What a shame it was to be the ‘odd boy out’ in my class! From Sunday evening the pang and shame of not being able to afford school uniform started creeping in my heart. Sunday could not be properly enjoyed when you know fully aware that you would be going to school next day without uniform! It was in August 1967 that ‘a joy unspeakable’ came to me. I was told that one Mrs. Sanford E Carlson would be supporting me and that she had sent me Rs.30/-as a gift! My mother bought me a black pant and a white shirt with that money! I was no longer the same person who fears Monday! My life was completely changed. Though my joy was short lived due to problems brewing up in our church, I am grateful to her and to my God. Till today that small gift had impacted me and I also have my commitments to children since many years back.

Can the church be still just a spectator? Can the church still pass the buck to government and NGOs? If Jesus said “bring the children unto me”. It is time for his church to say “Bring the children unto us”. I have a friend working with one Christian organization supporting one whole poor family! My wife told meabout one missionary couple who are supporting 8 children by keeping all of them like their own children! One of my former staff who is a manager now in a corporate house told me that his second job is connecting needy children with people. He has many beautiful stories to tell. Why should we give this privilege to millionaires and celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, coy? Jesus said to us today “Bring the children unto me” and “Take care of these children in my name. Because whatever you do to the least of these children in my name, you are doing it to me”.  If you would like to be part of this journey by supporting children individually or in group, please check with the websites of World Vision of India, Compassion International, NEICORD and other Christian organizations.  Because FOLLOWING JESUS . . .is  SERVING CHILDREN: Mk. 10: 13-15; Matt. 19:13-15; Lk. 18:15-17.
Mt. 18:3-9; Mk. 9:33-37; Lk. 9: 46-48.

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