A child limited physically or mentally in the ancient world was looked upon as curse from the gods or spirits, an individual who’d bring misfortune on a family and community. Often these children were abandoned at birth, left alongside the road to die.
While human beings are devalued in a myriad of shocking ways today, unfortunately it wasn’t much better in Greece and Rome in the first century. The disabled were called “monstrum” (Roman) and “teras” (Greek) – words representing mythological monsters.
The disabled are still seen as a grave liability, especially in the developing world where animism and witchcraft keep families from seeking help. In Uganda, for example, mental illness—caused by birth or trauma (or both)—is something to be feared. Families often turn the mentally disabled out on the streets to beg, and babies are left to die.
Christians the world over, including Uganda, see the image of God in these individuals. Love drives them to stand in the gap. However, the lack of resources can often hinder the healing process. David C Cook is working to change this dynamic.
David C Cook’s Children-at-Risk program in Uganda covers more than 5 million children. Yet there are individual ministries, leaders, and kids behind this statistic. One Christian facility hosting our whole life discipleship program is home to 50 mentally ill children. While this is designed to be a short-term treatment hospital, children are abandoned there because it is believed they bring about curses and omens on their families and communities (even after treatment).
Counselors and ministry workers at this facility are trained to use the Children-at-Risk curriculum. In a place where life is fragile, and children feel worthless, devalued, and engulfed in confusion and illness, the power of Jesus is unleashed. He is strong where weakness is the greatest.
Children in this facility are loved. Leaders impart spiritual formation, character development, and life skills through the program. Hope emerges, often for the first time. Kids learn they have an Advocate—the God of the universe who will cherish and defend them, and never abandon them.
Each lesson is active, child-centered, and tackles hard hitting topics. The following are a handful of the lesson titles that have undoubtedly made a difference in these kids’ lives:
- Adopted by God
- Managing the Energy of my Emotions
- Sadness and Depression
- God Cares when I’m Lonely
- The God Who Sees Me
- God Has a Purpose for My Life
- Angry with Myself
- God Comforts His Sheep
- And the Hero series: The Hero Who Rescues Me, The Hero Who Remembers Me, The Hero Who is Always with Me, and The Hero Who Changes Me.
These and other lessons in the three-year curriculum are used by God to repair the heart, soul, and mind, and prepare disadvantaged children for lives filled with promise and hope. Please pray for the children and workers at this facility. And please consider contributing to this outreach.