Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope centers help campaign for brighter future for youngsters at-risk for child labor in some of Asia’s impoverished communities WILLS POINT, Texas—In a part of the world where many children are valued only for the small amount of money they can earn through long hours of hard work in child labor, some communities have been reminded of the young ones’ great worth in God’s eyes. GFA-supported (Gospel for Asia) teams shared a message of encouragement and issued a challenge to make positive changes when they visited groups and villages to mark World Day Against Child Labor.
The annual awareness event organized by the United Nations brings a spotlight to the 168 million or so children around the world engaged in child labor, some of them in areas where GFA helps support Bridge of Hope centers aiming to help.
Often forced to find work to help support their impoverished families, child laborers are exposed to a variety of dangers—from health hazards and accidents to abuse and sexual exploitation. Earning even less money than their often untrained parents, the youngsters’ long hours at work—from picking through trash to factory and domestic work—also prevent them from attending school, limiting their future opportunities.
Against such a backdrop, GFA-supported workers reached out to both parents and children, distributing signs discouraging putting children to work. Warning parents of the dangers to which their children are being exposed, they urged them to do whatever they can to make their children‘s education—and future—a higher priority. Children were reminded that education was a right they should be able to enjoy.
“Children are a gift from God,” one of the GFA-supported leaders told a World Day Against Child Labor gathering. He urged adults to encourage other parents who let their children work instead of going to school to send them to classes rather than the workplace.
Some of those who heard the message agreed to do whatever they could to change things. One mother said that she had not sent her child to school because of a lack of money but now realized how important it was. “I will try to enroll my child in school,” she said.
Another said, “No children should be forced to work, whether they are willing or not. Children shouldn’t be forced to work by abuse, beating, or threats. Their first priority is to go to school and study.”
The recent World Day Against Child Labor programs brought a spotlight on the year-round efforts of GFA-supported workers to improve the lot of at-risk children through its Bridge of Hope operations. Through this program, thousands of children are fed, receive free medical care, are given access to schooling, and get to see God’s love for them displayed through the care of their teachers and the staff at the centers.
“Jesus loved the little children, and he did not stay silent when people mistreated them,” said GFA founder and director K.P. Yohannan. “Just as Jesus did, we want children to know that they are precious ones in God’s sight, and we want adults to know they have a responsibility to care for children. All children deserve a brighter future.”
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GFA (Gospel for Asia) has – for more than 30 years ‒ provided humanitarian assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially among those who have yet to hear the Good News. Last year, this included more than 75,000 sponsored children, free medical services for more than 180,000 people, 6,000 wells drilled, 11,000 water filters installed, Christmas presents for more than 400,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry.