Kids of Hope Discipleship Program: A Tool for Timely Intervention

Who among you have worked with children at risk for several years and longed to see the kids you learned to love experience life transformation? Changed lives can be hard to come by if workers among these children neglect continued reflection in doing the ministry, practicing much needed critical thinking and gaining wisdom in the process. Working among the poor can be too challenging and frustrating that many packed up and left and others experienced burn out at the end.

We heard so many sad stories about workers among the poor who lost their faith in the midst of struggling against poverty and the evils that caused it in the urban poor community. The good news is no one needs to be alone in doing this critical work in God’s kingdom. There are always like minded people out there who are willing to share their skills and expertise with us. All we need to do is open our eyes and hearts to God who will show us the way and send these workers who can help us. Our battlefield is vast and the enemy is strong yet God is also preparing an army of urban workers in the churches around us, loaded with skills and experience and are just waiting for an invitation, maybe a wake-up call to reassure them that they are needed in the new frontier which is urban missions.

One of the problems that the ministry of the Kids of Hope (KOH) has been facing for some time now is life transformation of the children who are under the program for quite awhile already. Many times the staff and volunteers feel frustrated about the news that they hear regarding the lifestyle of the children and their family and how they suffered because of it. Seeing the situation as a great problem that is hopeless can be counterproductive, leaving the workers tired and discouraged. However, looking at it as an opportunity to test God’s power of transforming something ugly into what is beautiful can also be a stance that urban workers need to take, especially in times like this.

Davao City has been known for its vigilante group called Davao Death Squad (DDS). Horrific stories had been told of youth killed by unknown individuals and the motives for killing can be traced back to the kid’s criminal record or drug dealing and use. Most of these young people were from the inner city of Davao, Agdao and Boulevard areas, known as a home of the many illegal settlers or squatters in the city. Speculations varied about the reason why is this summary execution been allowed and one primary reason is business. To attract investors, the city has to get rid of its eyesores and stumbling blocks—thefts, robbers who are usually connected to drug dealing and abuse. However, for some time now, the summary execution by the DDS has been quiet but still youth killing has not stopped due to gang war or police encounters. These young people early in life had been drawn to petty crimes and ended up dying young for their sins. This is the reason why KOH is intensifying its discipleship program and making it more intentional in approach to help the children of Agdao to finish well into their adulthood.

Currently, Rosemarie Gabriel is spearheading this program with the help of her husband Benjie and another volunteer Michelle who is also from the Jubilee Assembly of God. The team meets the kids every Friday night from seven to eight thirty pm. This program has started as an experiment whether it will be effective in reaching out to the sponsored kids and indeed it was. Most of the kids were able open up to the team; they were engaged in every activity and even cherished the praying for each other time mostly. Since then, the team decided to meet the sponsored kids regularly and from 11 children they grow up to twenty. Most of those who regularly join are the eleven-thirteen years old which the team was happy about since this age bracket is quite crucial. These children are fast becoming teenagers where more personal issues will come into play and without discipleship there will be no intervention in their lives. The aim of the discipleship time is to help them change in the power of God through the tools that the staff and volunteers have learned in their years of being active in children and youth ministry. Being trained as a social worker is also very handy in such a time like this. Rose and the team are praying that more people with skills in youth work will come to help out or conduct training about how to handle issues of this age bracket and especially counseling which will help young people make godly decisions in their daily life. Right now, there are twenty children being discipled intentionally every Friday night at Hope House. Pray with us that the relationship being built with the children will mirror the relationship of God with us. Within this godly relationship, healing can happen and the most awaited transformation can take place. For all of you who are continually praying and giving your financial support for KOH, may God’s joy be your strength always!