“Deeply traumatized and broken in spirit,” this is what the deputy director for the Africa bureau of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says of the many thousands of refugees flooding the border of Central African Republic (CAR) into Cameroon.
The refugees have escaped brutal sectarian violence and arrived severely malnourished and traumatized from a journey of terror. It’s reported that women, children and the elderly walk as many as three months, subsist on leaves, roots and dirty water and hide out at night from machete wielding men who block main roads. The militia group anti-Balaka is at the root of the terror, bent on cleansing Muslim populations from the northern part of CAR.
Border areas in Cameroon have make shift shelters, nutrition specialists, site planners and emergency staff. But who is equipped to bring soul care and the love of Jesus to people so broken in spirit?
This past week 108 youth ministers from Cameroon gathered for a David C Cook training in the city of Bamenda to learn how to reach the hearts and minds of millions of children in all corners of their country. By August 9—in the wake of a second training—more than 1,600 children’s workers will be equipped to use a special Children-at-Risk curriculum in multiple settings.
Children-at-Risk is a Bible based curriculum developed by David C Cook and tailored for children who’ve experienced great hardship, or who are at risk of trauma, including exploitation, abandonment and abuse. The lessons focus on spiritual care and formation, character development, and essential life skills. The Holy Spirit works through child-centered, active lessons to heal broken hearts and to prepare children for the rigors of life in a developing nation. Hard-hitting topics cover everything from grief, pain, death, and forgiveness to spotting traffickers.
“Never before have we seen such a rapid multiplication,” says Simeon Havyarimana, David C Cook’s outreach director on the ground in Africa. “The commitment was immediate. The Full Gospel Church had already planned to bring in 1,500 ministers to be trained by the 108 leaders from our training.”
Refugees are not the only group facing great hardship. Similar to other African countries, children in Cameroon suffer from the effects of poverty, lack of access to medical care, disease, and periods of civil unrest. The northern part of the nation also faces trouble with Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group who stormed a boarding school in Nigeria and kidnapped 276 girls back in April.
“In the Great Commission, Jesus told us to go into the whole world and make disciples,” said Havyarimana. “This is a big piece of it. As we experience the excitement around this program as evidenced by the joy we see in children’s ministers—like this week in Cameroon—we get reassured and determined to take this curriculum to every African nation.”
Through Children-at-Risk, David C Cook is intent on equipping local churches to bring healing to their communities, particularly among youth. To contribute financially to our work in Africa or for more information about Children-at-Risk (Orphan Initiative), please check out our website at lifeonlife.com.