In previous posts I discussed when it might be more appropriate to remove children from their homes. I also addressed some of the Biblical framework that we use in our organizational work to focus on children. In this post, I want to build on these concepts and sort of flip the script, so to speak, and address what might at first seem like a contradictory concept.
“Throughout the Bible, we see stories of children enduring remarkable hardship.”
Throughout the Bible, we see stories of children enduring remarkable hardship. We also see the emphasis Jesus placed on the importance of children in his teachings. One theme that is present in many of these stories is that the children are often NOT removed from their location. Despite these hardships, many of the children in these stories are shaped into great leaders and become names in the Bible that many of us are familiar with. But it is key to note that many of these children are not left completely alone. Many of them are shaped by leaders that walk alongside them in the midst of these hardships. Using this model, we try to ask ourselves as an organization: when is it better to leave children in their community?
This might lead you to ask: doesn’t this contradict your previous post about removing children from a difficult situation?
The answer is: yes and no…
We have found that in extreme cases we have no choice but to remove children from their community to protect them from trafficking and conscription into militant groups. However, when we do remove children, it is for the express purpose of coming alongside them and building them up so that they can become an agent for change in the very community they were extracted from. In these remote communities, the most impactful leaders are people who originate from there. They understand the language, the customs, even the terrain in a way no outsider could. Often, locals are the ONLY people who can gain access to these communities.
This is why, even when we do remove children from their communities, we do our best to keep them connected to their home communities in order to spread what they have learned back home. The impact that we have seen, even on a small scale, has been impressive. We have seen militant leaders lay down their arms after witnessing the change in their children. We’ve seen entire communities disavow violence and choose the path of peace.
These principles are ideas I’ve discovered after decades of work with organizations and years of study on what the Bible says about working with children. It has taken years of practice and trial and error. There are many difficult and complicated questions like this facing organizations today. I’m passionate about helping organizations think through these things and uncover Biblical models for answering them. If you would like to have a conversation about questions your organizations is facing, I would love to hear from you.
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