“Our teacher told us to go home and try to live a whole day without telling a lie. I wondered how that was going to be because at home all of us tell lies. If you don’t lie, you can’t survive.”
Twelve-year-old Cyncia made this confession—she is one of the 5 million at risk children in Uganda in the David C Cook’s Children at Risk (CAR) program. Kids like Cyncia face hardship from birth. Like their parents, and even their grandparents, they are ill equipped to deal with daily challenges, and thus, destructive patterns and despair are passed through the generations.
We are 6 in our family, and because other sisters tell lies to get things from our parents, I also tell lies so they won’t beat me. For example, when other students steal my pen at school, I have to lie that it’s not writing so my parents give me money to buy another.
How do you teach values to children whose survival is tied to lying for such basics as a pencil for school or enough to eat? How do you impart concepts such as forgiveness to those who’ve watched a parent murdered? How does a child process the shame and fear of knowing that one by one, AIDS has claimed the lives of his parents and siblings? How does a child heal after she’s been abused, trafficked, forced into combat or abandoned?
The local Church in many of these neglected areas has nothing to offer kids who’ve faced trauma—and often they have no Christian resources for children at all. We equip laymen and women for the long haul to care for at-risk children. The goal is to prepare them to come alongside these kids with the love of Jesus and to point them to the One who can heal their deepest sorrow.
The Children at Risk program covers more than 10 million children in 16 countries. It involves a whole life discipleship curriculum that deals head on with issues these children face, no matter how difficult. Caring adults shepherd them through child-centered, interactive lessons that make use of best teaching practices and the latest in trauma research. The program imparts spiritual formation, character development, and life skills. The Holy Spirit is given ample room to move in children’s hearts.
Through a lesson on integrity, Cyncia learned that God asks we tell the truth in all situations. This is now a God she knows and loves so this transgression against Him matters to her. In fact, she has grown to hate lying—and regularly asks for prayer to resist, regardless of the consequences.
Please lift up Cyncia, and children like her the world over. Also pray for the work of David C Cook through the local Church, asking the Lord to rescue, heal, and protect millions of kids. (Picture up top: Ugandan Church Children’s Ministry leader with boys in the program.)