Category Archives: Children in Crisis

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Southern Cooking and Street Children


My wife Margaret is one of the best cooks in the world.  She can cook Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Scandinavian, Mexican, Southern, Cajun, or whatever.  Recently we had a light Southern meal of slices of cold ham, black-eyed peas, sliced onions, fresh tomatoes (from a friend’s garden), fresh corn bread, and butter milk.  It was so good it brought tears to my eyes.  My mind flooded with memories of being raised in Texas in a poor home with a mother and grandfather.  Every Saturday as a treat, Mom splurged on my grandfather and me with freshly cooked beans, onions, tomatoes, corn bread, and butter milk.

As we enjoy food so much, however, it was good to remember that many people throughout the world never can sit down to a delicious meal with family members.

Many of these are among the 100 million street children and 150 million orphans of the world.  In Malawi a delicious meal can be served to a poor family, orphan, or underprivileged child for only 40¢.  In the Philippines a meal of a freshly boiled egg, small carton of milk, and a small loaf of bread is 48¢.  So as you and I enjoy our black-eyed peas, corn bread, and fresh tomatoes, let us remember the poor of the world as we minister the compassionate care of Christ to them.

Let me encourage you with the following, “Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light?  Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10, nasb).

Ministry to Needy Children with Compassion

“Pure and lasting religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit [care for] orphans . . . in their distress . . . ” (James 1:27, nasb).

Over the years I have seen “child sponsorship” programs come and go, and witnessed various programs worldwide.  Compassion International is one that is really appreciated.

My wife and I have had dinner in Manila with the Compassion International Philippine Director and his wife – a dedicated, generous, godly, self-sacrificing couple.

It was wonderful to hear of Compassion International’s ministry in the Philippines and its sponsorship through local evangelical churches of over 40,000 needy children!

Children in the city slums and in small provincial barrios are helped with the basics of education, food, clothing, and the Word of God.  Special Compassion projects are held throughout the year, such as camps, sports days, medical and dental clinics.

As we fellowshiped over food and the things of God, I rejoiced how God raised up this business man to serve in ministry of the church (which we helped found over 30 years ago), and then how he was appointed to serve as Compassion International Director for the Philippines.  He and his wife are example of those who have stepped forward in faith to trust God to use them in ministry to needy children.

As a result, the Gospel and “compassionate” care is being extending to thousands of needy children (and their families) to the glory of God.

Does it bother you?

Does it bother you that there are 100 million street children and 150 million orphans worldwide?

My family recently watched the excellent film Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce and the abolition movement in the United Kingdom in the 1800s.

It was an amazing film of Wilberforce’s battle in the British Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade.

In a scene in the film, Wilberforce is talking to his future wife Barbara.  She asked him why he could not talk any longer about the matter of slavery.  He responded, “I have been battling slavery for years, and yet after all the petitions, all the speeches, and all the bills presented to Parliament, ships filled with human souls in chains continue to sail around the world as cargo!”

Slaves were continually beaten, brutalized, raped, killed, even little children burned alive, and separated from their families.  Masses of slaves died in the hulls of slave ships.  After years and years of fighting the slave trade, Wilberforce felt nothing seemed to have changed.

Many of us in ministry to street and underprivileged children, and orphans can easily be discouraged.  We have had camps for thousands of needy children, street children, and orphans.  We cared for hundreds of precious little ones, rescued hundreds from pedophiles, opened hundreds of orphan homes, day care centers, and challenged church after church in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to reach out to needy children.  And, yet, there are still 30,000 children dying daily from malnutrition and disease, another 160 million still on the streets, 143 million orphans throughout the world, 27 million slaves (mostly children) in the nations of the world with up to 400,000 child slaves in Haiti alone.

Yes, we see thousands rescued and coming to Christ every year, but there are still millions not being reached.  It is easy to be discouraged as was Wilberforce, and yet, he continued on through the power of God to see the slave trade throughout the British Empire come to an end.  Will we continue on as God’s servants in ministry to children? If this was just our work, possibly so, but we, however, take encouragement from God and His Word.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, nasb).

Are Street Children Trash?

by Doug Nichols

Many consider street children to be trash.  Local businessmen in Brazil call them “vermin” and “garbage.” They say, “If we let them grow up they will become criminals—a blight on our society.” From time to time, some of these businessmen have even hired assassins to kill them.

Street kids. Thousands of them. A staggering 100 million extremely underprivileged and street children struggle to survive in the world’s largest urban centers.  In Manila alone there are an estimated 100,000 children on the streets, one million throughout the Philippines.

Some are young and cute and can still smile. Most are older, have rotten teeth, and have scarred faces. They are disease-ridden, flea- and lice-infested, shifty-eyed, suspicious, and fearful. They are the poor, the outcast, the abandoned, the exploited who exist by begging, stealing, eating out of garbage cans, and selling their bodies. These are the children of the streets.

Many of these children are sold into prostitution, some at as young an age as four.  It is estimated that at least 20,000 and possibly up to 60,000 children are engaged in prostitution in one Asian country, many living on the streets!

 On one occasion I was ill, but had a bed to sleep on in a comfortable room near a window with fresh air.  The bathroom was nearby, and provided potable water and clean fixtures.  My wife took care of me with soup and medicine.  What do street children do when they are sick?  Where do they sleep?  Where do they go for water to drink and food to eat?  Who cares for them?  There are unfortunately no answers to these questions.

 Sadly, street children are bypassed by many relief, evangelistic, discipleship, and church-planting efforts. It is expensive to work with such children, they lack the appeal needed for a sponsorship program, and they don’t make good church members!

However, God’s Word teaches that we should reach everyone with the Gospel, whether they be poor or rich, or whatever race or level of society they are from, regardless of their ethnic background or age. “…Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man (which includes street children) and teaching every man (the 10-year-old prostitute of Manila or Bangkok) with all wisdom, so that we may present every man (all street and underprivileged children) complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:27-28, nasb).

 Should care for these children not be one of the goals of each local church and Christian? Street children are starving for bread — physical and spiritual. Their needs must be met on both levels. Without the gift of physical care, only rare opportunities arise to communicate with street children. 

Each church, denomination, mission, and Christian should emphasize  underprivileged and street children for ministry – to pray for them, send them assistance, and even go to them.  This is a challenge to the people of every congregation — the young and the old, the inexperienced and the highly experienced – in long-range evangelism and discipleship of street children. 

 In Zambia, I was asked to encourage older men from Canada, the USA, and the UK to serve as missionaries to work with street children, as AIDS has killed off most of the fathers and grandfathers of the children and they have no grown men in their lives.

This Herculean ministry cannot be limited to those with a natural affinity and love for children. The need is so massive, it simply cannot be met by a few children’s workers. Church and mission leaders need to aggressively pray and plan to reach underprivileged children.

 Who will reach the children in crisis?

  • 300,000 young people under 18 have been exploited as child soldiers
  • 100,000 children are on the streets of Manila, Philippines
  • 7 million children worldwide are refugees of famine and war
  • 250,000 children and young people are infected with HIV/AIDS every month
  • 13 million AIDS orphans are suffering in Africa; 1 million in Malawi (10% of the total population) and 800,000 in Zambia
  • 800,000 girls ages 12 to 16 are involved in prostitution in Thailand
  • Over half a billion children are struggling to survive on under $1 per day
  • 100 million street children worldwide
  • It is estimated that 25 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS
  • 143 million orphans worldwide
  • 130 million children lack access to education
  • 246 million children are child laborers
  • 8.4 million children are trapped in slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography and other illicit activities
  • An estimated 24,000 children die each day from preventable diseases and hunger

 (NOTE: The figures above are estimates that are constantly changing, but which do represent a realistic indication of the problem. Statistics from:  the United Nations and its system organizations and publications, USAID, the U.S. Census Bureau, other humanitarian organizations and Action International Ministries,

 Someone said, “If 60 Boeing 747 planes carrying 400 people each crashed every day, the governments of the world would take action; but an equal number of deaths (24,000) occurs daily amongst children throughout the world, but there is little comment!”

Despite current evangelical missions emphasis on peoples, one of the world’s most significant people groups—children—has been neglected.                                                                 

A leader of Compassion International lists four basic reasons for emphasizing evangelism among “the smaller half of the world”:

Scriptural:  Helping children is central to the Ten Commandments

(Deuteronomy 6:7)

Statistical:  Child evangelism is important because the bulk of the world’s population is children.

Sociological:  Children play important roles in society. The majority of the world’s 100 million street children are becoming a plague to society and must be reached with the Gospel.

Strategic:  By reaching children we can reach the whole society.

 There are several effective ways to minister to street and underprivileged children in the needy areas, especially cities of the world:

Begin outdoor evangelistic programs in the late evening.  This is an excellent way to reach children on the streets. Each major city in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America could have teams working throughout the city, ministering the Gospel and loving care to children in crisis.

Use evangelistic camps for underprivileged and street children in cooperation with local evangelical churches. Church members can be trained as counselors to assist with the recruitment and follow-up of children in their local church and area.

Establish rescue and discipleship homes, especially for older street children who have trusted Christ and who want to leave the life of the street.

Start temporary homes in major cities to care for younger lost or abandoned children until their parents can be found, or until they are adopted or placed in a foster home.

Establish residential centers for youth who have trusted Christ — homes for Christian discipleship and vocational training in jobs like welding, carpentry, mechanics, and sewing.

Open long-term homes and orphanages for special-needs children who have no hope.  There are an estimated 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone.  Extended families will not care for all of them.

Let us trust the Lord for many more missionaries to devote themselves to long-term ministry among the neglected children in urban centers of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. May God raise up many missionaries for evangelism, discipleship and development among street children — missionaries who can run camps, work on the streets, begin children’s homes, and teach in vocational training centers.

Our prayer should be to reach all the street and needy children of the world — not just a few, for “The Lord is . . .not wishing for any to perish!” (2 Peter 3:9, nasb).

Doug Nichols

ACTION Founder & Street Children Advocate

Should We Pray God’s Judgment on Murderers of Children?

by Doug Nichols

On a ministry trip in Africa, my wife Margaret and I witnessed some of the 20,000 children, toddlers to age 17 years, walking to the northern Uganda city of Gulu to sleep on the streets, in makeshift shelters, in dirt floor school buildings, and on hospital grounds.

They came to Gulu nightly to try to escape the killing and kidnapping by the demonic, blasphemous, terrorist rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), headed by the wicked Joseph Kony. Over the last 20 years, the Kony terrorists have slaughtered thousands in northern Uganda and abducted 25,000 children and is doing it again in Uganda and the Congo!

There are many terrorist and rebel groups worldwide who use varying degrees of violence. The Kony terrorists, however, specifically target children, murdering and kidnapping them for child-soldiers, slaves, and concubines.

Would it be right for God’s people worldwide to pray Psalm 35 in regards to the wicked Kony terrorist; to pray on behalf of the war-torn children of northern Uganda for the glory of God?

Should we pray as Christians the following from Psalm 35:1-8:

(vs. 1) “Contest, O Lord, with those who contend with the [children of northern Uganda]. Fight against the [wicked demonic Kony terrorist] who fight [kidnap, rape, and slaughter] against the [war town needy children].”
(vs. 2) “…rise up for [the children’s] help.”
(vs. 3) “Draw the spear … to meet [the Kony murderers] who pursue [the children].”
(vs. 4) “…let those [wicked terrorists] be turned back… who devise evil against [the children of Uganda and the Congo].”
(vs. 5) “Let ways [of the violent Kony rebels] be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them on.”
(vs. 8) “Let destruction come upon [the wicked Konites] unawares … into that very destruction let [these slaughterers of children] fall.”

Whether you feel about praying the above or not, please pray for the terrified children of northern Uganda and the Congo and pray that Joseph Kony, the “slayer of widows … and murderer of orphans” (Psalm 94:6) will be brought to an end; “O Lord, God of vengeance, shine forth.” (Psalm 94:1).