“Cindy, most people don’t know about child soldiers.” This is what a friend of RiverCross said to me following a presentation I made about our newest project Jabota Bridge. And I understand. What these children have experienced is so horrific, and the consequences are so dire, that many of us would rather pretend that this issue doesn’t exist. Many of us would prefer to simply turn away.
Thank you for not turning away, for being willing to “go there” as our writer, Marshal Younger, says, and for taking a few minutes to learn a little bit about child soldiers.
WHO ARE CHILD SOLDIERS?
Simply put, a child soldier is a boy or girl under the age of 18 who is used for military purposes. A typical child soldier is around 12 years old, but they are sometimes taken as young as four years old. About 40% of child soldiers are girls, who are often then used for sex acts with adult soldiers. Some children are made to clean or to cook, but most are groomed and brainwashed to commit acts of violence, often against their own countrymen, and sometimes even against their own family members. Every child soldier has been torn from their homes and made to live a life no child should have to experience.
Children, especially those living in extreme poverty, are easy targets for militia groups operating independently of the local government. In war-torn nations, children make up the bulk of the population due to illness and war that have taken the lives of so many adults. Not only is there a ready supply of children, but they are easier to manipulate than adults. Practically speaking, they require less food, take up less space, and saddest of all, are viewed as easily expended. Some children are abducted, and some are manipulated and lied to so they join willingly.
WHERE IS THIS HAPPENING?
Current reports show child soldiers being actively used in twenty nations, half of which are on the African continent. From Libya, to Uganda, to Somalia, to Burundi, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, children are being abducted, tortured and manipulated, and made to commit atrocious acts of war.
BUT, NO ONE IS BEYOND GOD’S HOPE.
International programs like UNICEF have rescued thousands and thousands of children in the last decade. Organizations like Exile International are working to rehabilitate these children by meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Jabota Bridge, our newest audio drama, is a tool which, when put into the hands of local leaders and broadcast over local radio stations, can help child soldiers find healing and new life in Christ.
HOW JABOTA BRIDGE CAN HELP:
Child soldiers are part of the Jabota Bridge story. Our first audio drama Holding Esther focuses on the stories of sisters Sarah and Esther after they’ve been orphaned. Jabota Bridge picks up their story and brings to life the stories of children who have been forced to live on the street, are refugees fleeing war, and have experienced the horrors of life as child soldiers. Produced with excellence, it draws the children into the story and they begin to believe that God could write a new story in their lives. The heart of the story is that THERE IS HOPE FOR ALL in Christ.
Would you partner with us to reach child soldiers with hope?
- Child Soldiers World Index
- Exile International
- The Independent
- UNICEF’s Children Not Soldiers Campaign