South Sudan (MNN) — Continued unrest in South Sudan has taken a significant toll on the village of Wau, where Kids Alive International serves children through residential care and family preservation. Kids Alive President Matt Parker says the work being done to provide rescue and restoration is far more than a meal and shelter.
“This is really tough on children. Our ministry is not just about meeting children’s physical needs and providing them with an education. Those things are absolutely critical, but it’s also about providing healing for children’s emotional needs,” explains Parker.
“Children who come to us from the streets have suffered incredible trauma. Many of them have been abused, many of them have seen family members killed or seen family members die or they’ve been abandoned, and that creates incredible trauma in these children’s lives. And so a key part of what we do — particularly through those early days following the rescue — is working one-on-one, providing counseling, and listening to those children; really understanding their fears and their emotions, and bringing them to a place where there is that emotional healing.”
An eight-year old who had experienced horrific abuse was recently rescued by Kids Alive. The first months were extremely difficult for caregivers providing counseling, but small glimmers of hope began to emerge. “These kids who come from the streets, they’re just on survival mode and they don’t know how to play. As he started to interact with the other children, he started to play again.”
The impact of war isn’t only traumatizing to the children and their families. Parker shares his concern for the caregivers. “Obviously situations like this — traumatic situations, crisis situations — place a huge burden upon the staff who are responsible for managing the situations, who are responsible for caring for those kids. They are going through trauma as well. Our staff in South Sudan [are] fearful for their lives, they are fearful for their families and for their own homes. There’s a real need to be providing support and care, counseling to our own people, and making sure they have a safe place where they can have healing, where they can be restored and supported and cared for. And, you know, sometimes it’s easy to forget that…”
He pauses at the gravity of the statement.
“It’s easy to forget that the workers, the staff who we have in these situations — you know, there’s a heavy toll on them. I believe we need to be making sure we care for our people. We need to support our people in any way we can. We need to be praying for them and with them.”
Parker says prayer is essential in the work of rescue and restoration.
Please be praying for Kids Alive. “Pray for our director, Francis, who does an amazing job under very difficult circumstances. Pray for his staff, who are committed to meeting the needs of our children. And pray for our children as well, that God would continue to protect them, and for our kids’ faith to continue to grow.”
Parker especially requests, “Pray that we’ll be able to rescue more kids.”
Parker says God has called Kids Alive to South Sudan, and he asks for prayer for both the children they serve and the ones yet to come. “We’ve seen good things happen in the lives of our kids. God’s presence is very real at the home where we care for these kids.
“The kids know they have hope, despite what’s going on around them. The kids are committing their lives to Him, and they are growing in the knowledge and in the understanding of who God is. Our prayer is that these young people we are caring for today will be change-makers — that these will be young men and women who will grow up and make a difference in their community for God’s glory.”