USA (MNN) — In 1916, a missionary in China had a vivid dream of a tree. Its branches reached to the sky, and on each branch were thousands of twinkling lights. That missionary shared the dream with her husband, and the work of Kids Alive International was begun.
The couple had seen the poverty and suffering of the children who lived on the streets in China–children who had nowhere to go. So, knowing that God had a plan, they hung a sign on the gate in front of their home that welcomed those children. Each child received an education, food, a safe home, and the love of Jesus Christ.
It’s been 100 years since the first Kids Alive International home was opened, and Matt Parker, president of the ministry, says the dream of that first missionary has come true, with thousands of children being impacted by the Gospel. “Today, we’re working in 15 countries with thousands of kids–6000 children in total, kids who’ve been rescued into loving homes and families and who now have very real hope for the future. “
Kids Alive isn’t merely celebrating what God has done over the past century: they are now looking ahead at what He has for them in the years ahead. “One thing we’re absolutely committed to doing as an organization is keeping Jesus Christ right at the heart of everything that we do. We believe it’s God alone who transforms lives for eternity, and we will keep Him at the center of every program that we run, every decision we take.”
From the moment a child first comes into a Kids Alive International program, they’re being prepared for adulthood. Parker says that always begins with education.
“A quality education is key in helping children break that cycle of poverty. And so we will work with each individual child to make sure they have an education plan that meets their needs, ensuring that they get not only a quality primary and high school school education, but also that they have the vocational training skills or that they have the opportunities to go to university or higher education.
“We’re also preparing children from an early age to learn the life skills that they need, helping them to care for themselves, helping them to manage money, and to help them develop the key skills they will need once they leave our program. And underpinning all of this is engaging children with the local church. We want to see our kids become part of the local church in their communities, not just while they’re living with us but when they leave as well. One of the really nice things I’ve seen over the past years is to see some of our kids in the church leading Sunday school, leading worship, and very much engaged.”
Kids Alive International continues to look at additional communities and countries where thousands more children around the world may be rescued and redeemed. “Of course, that means that we will need more child sponsors and partners; we’ll need to develop our facilities and raise an army of compassionate and skilled missionaries who will pour themselves into the task of rescuing orphans and vulnerable kids. We’re excited for the challenge and excited to see what God does in the future.”
Fourteen different Kids Alive International anniversary events will take place in April around the United States, allowing supporters to meet Kids Alive alumni and missionaries, and learn even more about the work being done and how their gifts are being used for the Kingdom.
While it’s an exciting time for Kids Alive International, Parker says he can’t help but find his prayers focused on the incredible need that still exists. “I remember being in Sudan in one of our children’s homes in a refugee camp, and I visited the home and it was a wonderful experience. There was such a sense of God’s peace and God’s presence in that place. I walked out of the door at the end of my visit, and there was a little boy standing there, dressed in rags. And it just broke my heart to see him and so many other kids like him in that community that still needed help. We want to do what we can for so many more kids.”
Parker asks specifically that prayers be lifted for God to bless the kids that are served by Kids Alive programs. “We want to see our kids become real change-makers in their countries, and we believe God can use our kids to change communities and nations for the Gospel.” You can become a partner in prayer and a partner in ministry through child sponsorship and financial support. Visit the Kids Alive website for details.