Here in Nigeria, on the Mambilla Plateau you can see children everywhere, working, playing, laughing, talking, or singing. I am always observing to see how children here live their lives here and it amazes me to see a little girl skipping down the street singing a song, barefoot, dirty clothes, and happy or a little boy rolling a bike tire down the road with a stick, proud that he has a bike tire and can keep it upright.
Since God has wired me with an affinity for children, this picture also reminds me of mistakes and lessons learned along this road of life in dealing with and loving children. I have one I would like to share with you today.
I want you to think of children as buckets. Every experience and word said to them all goes into their buckets and develops their views of the world around them, other people, and themselves. Studies have shown that a child needs at least six positive comments or affirmations to every negative word spoken to them to have a “balanced” view of themselves and their environment.
Do children every do anything wrong or need guiding? Of course they do, but how we phrase things, our tone of voice, and our approach can make all of the difference in the world in how this impacts the child and how the child looks at God and himself. Children that are treated harshly, belittled, and demeaned see God as a “Great Being waiting to zap them”. Children that are corrected gently with the focus being on the wrong behavior, rather than a list of other offenses generally have a more balanced outlook on things.
These are some words we need to avoid saying. Words such as “ What’s wrong with you?”, “You’ll never amount to anything.” “ I wish you were more like ____.”, “ You’re such a disappointment.” I know you can probably think of others as well. Also, the way we say things and the look on our face also impacts our children.
This year with 2016 right around the corner here is something to think about. What are you putting into other peoples buckets? I like to picture each of us as little children deep inside our “adult exteriors”. What are you putting into the buckets of those you love the most? What about those you come in contact with EVER?
My point for today is this: Do you want to leave positive impact or negative? It really is a choice, a deliberate, pre-planned choice. Choose wisely!
Every Sunday we go to a different church to connect with congregations as we are a para-church organization. This morning we went to church at one of the churches that is doing the AWANA Clubs. I was so blessed to be able to witness this church (who just recently started doing any children’s ministry) bring all of their children onto the platform, anoint each one and then pray for the children. After that, the Pastor called up all of the children’s workers (both Sunday mornings and AWANA Clubs) and anointed each one, prayed for, and blessed them for ministry.
Friends, I can’t tell you how choked up and a little teary I was. This is not a typical thing in our area of the country. Four years ago when I first learned that AWANA had developed their program to better fit developing countries. I knew that we needed to do what we could, with God’s help, to get this awesome training program to our area of Nigeria. I have seen the change in children and families through AWANA when God gets into their hearts and they are consistently discipled (and I knew the lack of resources in Nigeria for such things).
I don’t know if you know this, but an adult empowered to teach children gets as much back as they give. Things only children can give! I have worked with small children for years, and I still miss it. I am, however, making in-roads here with the children. I have a few little friends here, but there are still a lot of children that are afraid as they have not seen a white person before. There is a very long way to go, but these little hearts and smiles so bless me!
We also had communion this morning and on the dusty, stained cement floor, someone had spilled some drops of juice. When I saw this, immediately it reminded me of Christ’s blood, shed for me. Christ’s blood shed for these little children and their families.
My point for today is this: We all have children in our lives, no matter if we think we are “kid people” or not, it is our job and privilege to share love and compassion and the story of redemption with them. How do you treat the children in your life? This Christmas can you give them something better than stuff? Give them a little part of you, give them love and understanding. Show them Jesus. Just something to think about as you prepare your heart to celebrate Christmas.
Well, here in Gembu at GECHAAN we have had a lot of building going on lately. Here are bricks that the brick makers have made and they are drying in the sun. They have been working all week making them.
I got to thinking about how we prepare for things in life and this occurred to me. What if you spent all of your time “making bricks”, you take classes, you check all of the different sands that you need, you make sure you measure the water perfectly and then you even start making bricks. Well, after you have a bunch of bricks made, you get afraid to actually take the first steps you need to for building. “It’s too scary” you think. “What if I fail?” You sit there for a year with a bunch of bricks, and no new fence or pharmacy facility. Just sitting there.
This is a lot like those times I have had in my life where I get in “preparation block”. Afraid to fail or make a mistake or make the wrong decision, I make no decision at all! I once asked a friend and co-worker how she got so much accomplished and she told me, “Tina, you just have to get out there and do it!”
I am here to encourage you in this! If you are not moving forward, you are falling behind. There is no “standing still”. With the Christmas season right around the corner you have the most perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and ask a neighbor, relative, or friend to join you in church Christmas events or a concert, or dessert at your house.
My point for today is this: You can read a book about it, practice it, take a class, but I am encouraging you right now to JUST DO IT! Start moving forward with sharing your faith, you never know who’s life He’ll change!
Today is December 1. World AIDS Day. Here at GECHAAN we have been working for the past two months preparing to get the word out about HIV/AIDS and raise awareness. It is a wonderful opportunity as we are free to go around our whole community and “preach” AIDS awareness outside our clinic walls.
Despite major advances, HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low and middle income countries, with new diagnoses every year and young women in sub-Saharan Africa seen as being particularly at risk.
World AIDS Day on December 1 is used to unite people in the fight against HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus first identified in 1984, to show their support for people living with HIV and commemorate those who have died.
The member countries of the United Nations agreed in September to a new set of global goals to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Here are some facts about AIDS in 2015 with data from the World Health Organization, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, and UNAIDS:
- Globally about 36.9 million people are living with HIV including 2.6 million children
- An estimated 2 million were infected in 2014
- An estimated 34 million people have died from complications or infections due to HIV or AIDS, including 1.2 million in 2014
- The number of adolescent deaths from AIDS has tripled over the last 15 years
- AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second among adolescents globally
- In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence, girls account for 7 in 10 new infections among those aged 15-19
- At start of 2015, 15 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy compared to 1 million in 2001
- Despite widespread availability of HIV testing, only an estimated 51 percent of people with HIV know their status
- The global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and nearly 8 million deaths since 2000
- In 2015, Cuba was the first country declared to have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV