Stolen playground equipment winds up a redemptive story

By May 5, 2011

Peru (MNN) — In mid-March, we reported the story of aluminum
thieves who made off with the platforms of playgrounds intended for the poorest
kids of Peru.

Rich Anderson with Kids Alive International says the story
since then has been one of redemption, but it didn't quite go the way he
thought it would. "The thieves were never caught. The playground equipment was
never recovered."    

However, the publicity the news coverage brought to Kids
Alive was encouraging to a team that thought their summer projects were
destroyed by the thieves. "I didn't know how we were going to get past this. I didn't
know how we were going to be able to build the three playgrounds that we wanted
to build in Peru this summer. We had already recruited the teams that were going
to go and do that," Anderson says. "God
just worked it out for the good."

Here's what happened as a result of their loss: "We were
offered a playground from a church (and we'll be taking it out
this Saturday). It's next door to a large department store. That department store
declared a bankruptcy and is now bank-owned," Anderson says. The bank
thought it'd be a great idea to donate the playground. Even better, they got an idea about using what
they already had: "We were able to
resurrect the original playground that had the decks stolen by borrowing from
another playground that we already had in storage and using those decks."

Even better, they now have a way to prevent another thief
from striking. "We now have indoor
storage for as long as we want it. We have 1,500 square feet with a concrete
floor, beautiful lighting, and a loading dock. That was given to us as a
result, too! God really worked it out."

The playgrounds from the church and the bank are earmarked
for Zambia later this year. However, because they now have the materials they need
to fill the project needs, "We shipped on Monday to Peru. We shipped three
playgrounds. We're going to be building one in Andahuaylas in the Andes Mountains, one in Pucallpa,
which is in the Amazon Rainforest, and one in Pachacamac, which is a
slum community outside of Lima."

The playgrounds are kid-magnets. They afford children the opportunity for a
childhood–something that poverty can leach away. More importantly, Anderson says, the
playgrounds are tools for ministry. "It
brings in additional kids who want to come to our Christian schools and want to
get involved in our afterschool programs as a result of that playground. That's
where they hear about Jesus. The playground itself is not going to lead someone
to Christ, but using it as a tool to bring those kids in and then sharing Christ
with them, that's what we're all about."

There's more about Kids Alive's work in Peru at our Featured
Links.

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