The Bible has much to say about family life and parenting – it’s very real about the challenges, and as a parent myself, I’m quite encouraged that the heroes of faith often struggled to parent well.
In my role with World Without Orphans, I’ve seen that in some churches, in some cultures providing parents with advice and support is commonplace, while in others, it’s a subject that church leaders wouldn’t dare go near! For many, COVID-19 has changed that, and it’s also provided yet more evidence to global agencies and NGOs just how essential it is to engage with church leaders.
As the world went into lockdown, and 1.6 billion children were unable to go to school, parents throughout the world panicked! And alarm bells began to ring – we’ve seen in past localised health emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreaks in west Africa, that when schools are closed, violence against children increases. However, we also know that providing parents with support reduces violence against children. That’s why World Without Orphans, at the beginning of lockdown, prioritised equipping church leaders to support parents. We knew that parents needed support, and we knew that church leaders were one of the few people who had access to families in lockdown.
Parenting for Lifelong Health, based out of Oxford University in the UK, is the parenting programme that the World Health Organisation recommends. As more and more countries closed their schools, they took the core, evidence based, components from their parenting courses to create the COVID-19 Parenting Tips. World Without Orphans stepped in to provide translation support, and soon the tips were available in 100 languages.
In Ukraine, the tips were being given to vulnerable families with food parcels, in Romania they made short videos – based on the tips – to share on social media. In Kyrgyzstan they made short animations that were shown on national television. In Sri Lanka, Malawi and Zambia our partners embedded the tips into their family support programmes. Millions heard the tips as Pastors used their radio shows to provide parenting support. In the first few months, it is estimated that 60 million people were reached with the tips – 20 million of them as a result of World Without Orphans and our partners – that is churches and Christian organisations around the world. Global agencies, NGOs, even governments were taking note, that it was churches that were making the difference.
We were then asked to create a church leader guide to the Parenting Tips. The aim was to connect the Tips with what the Bible has to say about parenting – a task that was pretty straightforward, given how much wisdom there is in the Bible about parenting. So, working with others, including the World Evangelical Alliances, that is what we did. We created a resource to equip church leaders to promote positive parenting.
COVID-19 has put parenting on the agenda. During the past year there was a significant change to my social media feeds. Previously, parents tended to only share the good moments – now they were quick to express how hard they were finding parenting. They were desperate for support. And this gave church leaders an opportunity to provide support to their congregations and communities who were struggling, often reaching breaking point and beyond. Our desire now it to keep parenting on the agenda. Let’s make sure that parents never again have to struggle in silence, let’s make sure churches are wrapping around families and providing them with all the support they need – including the fundamentals of good parenting skills.
By Phil Green, Global Partnerships Lead of World Without Orphans
The parenting tip and the church leader´s guide can all be accessed at:
[Could the following video be displayed here.]
This article was originally published here
European Evangelical Alliance is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance. To learn more visit EEA