Helping Children to Live Again
A New Year Message by Paul Richardson
I remember where I was sitting when I first watched a report of a “corona virus.” Little did I know that for the next two years much of the world would stand still. Many of us tragically lost our loved ones. In various ways, all of us were affected. Perhaps the most unseen and unrecognized victims of the pandemic have been children.
According to Manasi Sharma, a research consultant who contributed to a report for UNICEF about the effect of the pandemic on children, “Government imposed lockdowns, school closures, and disruption of services have led to increased reports of fear and stress, anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, inattention, alcohol/substance abuse, along with irregular physical activity and sleep patterns.” Teachers report children living in constant fear of death, of germs, of removing masks, and of social interaction. Many have developed obsessive addictions to video gaming. Some children have a hard time talking or thinking about the future. Schools report children academically having fallen far behind their expected grade levels.
It is time to look forward, and to take action. Our objective now is to help children rise back up again. The first command that Jesus ever gave to the Apostle Paul was recorded in Acts 26:16a, “Now get up and stand on your feet.” Our aspiration for 2023 is to help children who just spent two years in isolation, to get up and stand on their feet.
Recently I listened to a rendition of Bette Midler’s song The Rose:
”Just remember in the winter,
far beneath the bitter snows,
lies the seed that with the sun’s love,
in the spring becomes the rose.”
These words well describe a blossoming of life and hope in the heart of a child.
This new year, let us all pray for children’s hearts everywhere to rise and live again. All of us who serve children in Mustard Seed schools here in Indonesia are doing our part.From the new Creativity Center in Kumbang, to our schools high up in the mountains of Papua, children are standing up on their feet. From Gapanau Island, to the more than 1,000 children studying in MSI’s Lab School in Java, and to the children of Rusen Island, “snow” is melting and hearts are being reborn.