– by TWR Africa

Children have their whole lives ahead of them to be used of God to do great and mighty things. In the book of Matthew 19:14, Jesus calls for the children to be brought to Him. A lot of children in our society today are simply growing up and not being raised as they deserve; and many are facing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Even if they are taken in by loving caregivers, their hearts need healing.

Nurturing them
In addressing the plight of these children, RiverCross joined hands with TWR to use audio drama to help train caregivers of sexually exploited children in Africa and beyond. Cindy Finley, the Global Ministry Director for RiverCross, says the ministry builds bridges of hope for the world’s vulnerable children. This relationship with TWR has given the ministry access to 371 global staff, 230 languages, and 2000 broadcast outlets. Cindy believes that the world’s most vulnerable children are precious to God, therefore they should be precious to people. “Our strategy to bring healing to traumatised, vulnerable children is a two-fold approach,” says Cindy.

A two-fold approach
Through the ministry of RiverCross, an audio-drama series called Holding Esther equips caregivers with Biblical trauma healing. It traces the story of two girls, Sarah and Esther, who experience intense trauma following the death of their loving parents. Caregivers could be extended family, local church members, or even local women in the community, while most of these adults do not know how to help children cope with their trauma. “To effectively heal hurting hearts, we strive to maximise our reach by equipping caregivers. The average indigenous caregiver will provide housing and care for approximately 26 orphans. So, by equipping caregivers with Biblically-based trauma healing, they can in turn bring that hope to the vulnerable children in their care,” Cindy explains. 

Speaking to the children
Another audio drama series, Jabota Bridge, is being produced to speak directly to the children. The new drama, now in the post-production phase, features the character Naomi and the children living in the safe house across Jabota Bridge as they work together through life’s adventures and struggles, which the world’s vulnerable children often experience due to the pain of their trauma. Unless they learn to process their pain, those wounds can become their identity. Through Jabota Bridge, children immerse themselves in the stories of relatable characters and learn how to turn to Jesus for healing.

Current ministry in Zambia
Holding Esther was developed as a pilot project to train orphan caregivers in Zambia on how to protect children from further abuse and facilitate their healing. “We trained 14 facilitators and they, in turn, led 88 participants to listen and discuss 7 episodes of this radio drama.” For an effective production, RiverCross pulled together a team of experts in child development, human trafficking, trauma care, and related fields to guide the development of the drama and assure the validity and effectiveness of its message. The next step was to get a talented professional cast and crew who scripted and recorded 7 compelling episodes. According to reports, to date, 280 orphan caregivers have been trained to use Holding Esther with the children in their care. “We already know of perpetrators arrested because of Holding Esther, and instances of healing in Zambian communities have taken place,” Cindy said.

Future plans
Cindy went on to explain the way forward: “We are starting with 8 pilot episodes of the series Jabota Bridge, which will be field tested in the summer of 2019. If these prove to be as impactful as we believe they will be, we intend to produce more than 150 episodes for the children to listen to on radio, the internet, or solar-powered MP3 players.”

Jabota Ridge
The young listeners will be able to identify with the characters in the drama, many of whom share the same traumatic backgrounds experienced by the listeners and begin their own journey of healing, ultimately placing their hope in Christ. Although children can listen to the dramas on their own, the programme will have the most impact when caring adults join the children to discuss the content and how to apply it. A discussion page will be available for each episode to help guide the interaction. 

Focus is Africa
Lauren Libby, TWR president, says the initial focus is Africa, and RiverCross expressed the need for TWR’s expertise to help move the project forward by translating and producing the content in several languages and distributing it via radio and other media platforms. “The leadership of TWR Africa was brought into the loop early on and has strongly endorsed RiverCross’ content and vision for the future.”

Statistics to consider
In the build-up to the 2018 Child Protection Week in South Africa, statistics released in the South African Parliament showed that at least 41% of all reported rape cases from the past three years involve children. In the same period, more than 2600 children were murdered. Add to this the tens of thousands of babies abandoned across the country (two out of three of whom are reported to have died), and revelations from a 20-year investigation that 99% of the children studied had witnessed violence or been a victim of it, and it is not surprising that global humanitarian organisation World Vision recommend that violence against children be treated as a national disaster.

Article source: JOY! Magazine

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