Suggestions for Church Supporting Left-Behind Children, Making a Difference

Summer Camp for the Left-behind Children
Summer Camp for the Left-behind Children (photo: Hangzhou YMCA)
By Yetta YaoMarch 27th, 2017

Nowadays, taking care of left-behind children is a serious family issue in China.

Early this year, a 15-year old boy named Xiaolong from Yunnan committed suicide by drinking poison, leaving a touching letter, which sparked heated discussion. Xiaolong wrote in his letter that his father, who did not love him, properly compelled him to do it. He said, "Why do parents drive children to commit suicide? I am still young, I do not want to die. Do not release your anger on your innocent children. God sent them to you so that you may love them."

According to the 2016 Education Blue Book, rural children left behind by their parents mainly were elementary school students and most of them were not taken good care of or taken care of by their guardians. After 2010, many left-behind children lost their lives. They are mainly located in some provinces where many people (migrant workers) go to work in other cities.

Though China encourages religious charity, Chinese Christianity still does very little in dealing with the issue of rural left-behind children. Should the church take the responsibility of taking care of those children and how do they take it?

Concerning this issue, Christian Times, an online Christian newspaper in Mainland China interviewed several Christians, including pastors and believers, to explore the church's calling and responsibility in face of the practical social issue.

Church, who is rich with resources, should think about solving the issue of left-behind children in a long run.

According to a young pastor, Brother C in a village of Henan, there are many churches in the countryside, which can do a lot of works to make a difference.

"The church is capable of offering money, people and places apart from providing available time." He said.

Another Pastor P working in a Three-Self church in Northeast China said that many churches are working on fellowship for businessmen. The church can use these fellowships' resources to help people and create careers for those in need. He also said that in order to solve the issue of left-behind children, the church should make a long-term plan, starting fundamentally from the economic aspect. The church should learn how to utilize and integrate resources to help people who work outside to create local jobs and careers.

The church also needs to change its perception in order to do something.

Brother C in Henan pointed out that the church has not changed its thinking, although it has many resources. As a result, it has made little contribution in helping solve social issues, such as the rural left-behind children. For instance, if a church sends a college student to help teaching children, the church may think about teaching only Bible. Brother C hoped that the Chinese Church could also serve the society.

Pastor P hold similar ideas. He said that the church lacks the mindset to deal with social issues, not lacking resources because a believer's business issue has nothing to do with the tasks of pastors. "Now these issues are not just societal issues, they must be dealt with by the church now." He said.

The church should cooperate with other institutions to explore ways in the social service ministry.

Brother C put forward several proposals, such as organizing Summer camps, proving that the church can do practical work to help the issue of left-behind children.

Pastor P believed that the churches from big cities and countryside, both small and big, should work together to deal with the issue.

The rise of the issue was mainly because of Chinese parents' lacking in good family concepts.

A young believer, Brother S, who cares about the societal issues, think that the priority is to help Chinese parents change their thinking instead of solving economic problems.

He pointed out that the church should teach parents their responsibility of raising their children and how to treat their children and their family. He said, "I believe this is what the church should do and can do and it is a fundamental problem." Brother S added, "I think that the church should teach these lessons because people generally lack a good concept of family and so do many Christians in the church."

Pastor P from northeast China pointed out that the church should teach parents the importance of caring for children and teach and care for children. 

Translated by Alvin Zhou

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