by Glenn Miles and Josephine-Joy Wright, editors
This is a splendid compilation of articles to help orient Christian workers to the diverse world of children’s needs and ministries.
Paternoster Press, P.O. Box 1047, Waynesboro, GA, 30830, 2003, 459 pages, $34.99.
—Reviewed by Kelly O’Donnell, coordinator of Global Member Care Resources (MemCa), WEA Missions Commission.
This is a splendid compilation of articles to help orient Christian workers to the diverse world of children’s needs and ministries. Over fifty authors from around the globe contribute to its eight sections. The book was conceived by an international working group of Christian organizations in association with the UK-based Viva Network. It is designed as the primary text for a course of the same name, and provides significant impetus to help this divergent field develop effective practices and professional standards of care.
Both difficult and normal developmental experiences are discussed throughout the book, but the emphasis is much more on the difficult. “David is eight. His family was caught in anti-government guerilla warfare. He saw his father, mother, and baby sister brutally killed as he hid in the bush” (2). “Raoul is thirteen. He has been living on the streets since he was eight. He never knew his mother and, when his father died suddenly of a heart attack, he was left with no family and nowhere to live” (2).
The book is not so much an instruction manual, as it is an overview of the world of children and how Christian workers and agencies are trying to help. It is meant to be supplemented by more in-depth works on related issues. One of the highlights for me was the final section, which includes twenty case studies from around the world, dealing with such issues as HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse, internet exploitation, street children and poverty. These cases are fascinating, heart-rending and instructive.
The other sections contain a broad range of material. Part One covers child development and international law. Part Two emphasizes listening to children. Part Three discusses children’s problems and resiliencies. Part Four addresses the church’s role in holistic ministry. Part Five looks at skill sets and practical issues related to working with children. Part Six studies development and evaluation of programs. Part Seven probes member care needs for workers/staff. And Part Eight is comprised of brief case studies. There is also a good bibliography, suggested readings section and a detailed index.
The book’s only real weakness stems from its major strength—there is so much material. I would have liked to have seen more of an executive summary at the beginning, which might have helped readers navigate through the types of children’s needs and ministries that currently exist globally.
Celebrating Children is relevant for anyone working with kids at risk—the hundreds of millions of children who struggle without the necessary means of support and nurture, whose well-being and development are imperiled. The book is a gem, filled with hope, helpful concepts and examples.
Check these titles:
Stuart, Tim and Bostrom, Cheryl. 2003. Children at Promise: Nine Principles to Help Children Thrive in an at Risk World. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.
Kilbourn, Phyllis. 1996. Children in Crisis: A New Commitment. Monrovia, Calif.: MARC.
International Committee of the Red Cross. 1994. Children and War. Geneva, Switzerland.
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