By Kelly McGugan, Sports Ministry Coordinator
Can you imagine living on the streets and sleeping on an unforgiving dirt sidewalk? Imagine that every night you sleep on the streets you have to keep one eye lid open just to protect yourself from potential violence.
Now imagine kids living like that. What would they do? How would they protect themselves?
One can understand that a life like this, over time, would result in distrust in people and an aggressive behavior. This is a regular occurrence for children who live on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These children have no one to turn to for protection and thus become distrusting and jaded to love.
I remember the first time I watched children in Addis Ababa, no more than 8-years-old, squabble. Generally, it would start simple and they would argue, then it would turn in to pushing and shoving, to punches, and lastly, rocks or other objects being thrown at each other. This is a far cry from back home in America where children argue and get aggressive, but eventually let their parents be the judge of the disagreement. To say that conflict resolution among children in Addis Ababa is poor would be an understatement.
Have you heard the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s work?”
This is the problem - these kids have too much time on their hands and no one to feed into them creatively, so they act out aggressively. Thus, the question for Onesimus and The Forsaken Children is "How do you engage these kids in a productive and creative way? What else can be done?"
How about sports ministry?
This is one way the sports ministry program can be beneficial to the kids of Ethiopia. A sports ministry program can give kids an outlet to run off some steam and frustrations, yet do so in a controlled environment with a coach, referee, or mentor that is there to instruct, discipline, and motivate them to succeed and manage conflict in a healthy manner.
Don’t simply take my word for it – Keren Shahar, a Ph.D student at Tel Aviv University in Israel, found “that not only did sports improve [the children’s] general health, but also their behavior, emotional health and discipline.”
In trying to grow TFC’s Sports Ministry Program we have met with different sports agencies in Addis Ababa as well as the government. I’m pleased to say that after only a year into the program, we are already seeing fruits of our labor. I have witnessed kids a year ago who would have thrown rocks at each other over a disagreement, now settle differences in much more mature ways.
Through programs like these, we can run after kids like Christ ran after us and begin the healing process in these children’s hearts.
If you or someone you know is interested in helping donate resources that can be used to further our sports ministry program please contact us.