What do think about when you read headlines about economic hardships, natural disasters, and politically charged conflict? Circumstances like these set families and entire communities reeling, and few people are affected as profoundly as the children involved. How do the littlest victims cope with the changes and uncertainty around them? And what can the church do to reach out specifically to these little ones?
Group Publishing, the premier publishers of children's Bible curriculum including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. That's why they have created a program called Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K), which partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like International Bible Society and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God's love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. Since its inception ten years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted millions of kids all over the world.
"Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service," says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. "Children learn by doing. It's one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers."
This year's OK2K project features two easy to make (no sewing required) Comfort Critters-small plush turtles with a sewn in pocket for exchanging pictures or notes of encouragement and hope. After they make the turtles, each child will keep one and send the other to a child in need. With a cute little turtle as a friendly and safe messenger, children will understand and communicate Christian compassion and the hope of Jesus. . . and they'll have fun doing it. Group offers many other resources for OK2K initiatives, including an affordable booklet entitled The Survivors: For Kids in Tough Places.
Over the years, OK2K has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world through gifts of school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Between recent natural disasters and the global economic crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for children to show the love of Christ to other children-and not just for a VBS event. Operation Kid-to-Kid can mobilize service projects any time of the year.
Group is also starting a new venture between OK2K and Lifetree Adventures, an organization that combines unique vacations with meaningful service projects. This new venture will be the "follow through" option for those who feel called to take the VBS OK2K effort to the next level. For 2009, Operation Kid-to-Kid will sponsor a trip to New Orleans for children's leaders to deliver the Comfort Critter turtles to Katrina victims.
"There is still much to be done in New Orleans after the nation's largest natural disaster. You saw the horror of Hurricane Katrina where over 1,500 people died," says Group VBS Senior Editor Jody Brolsma. "But did you know Christians have led the way, quietly rebuilding and cleaning up after the disaster? Now you can help minister to the children of the 7th Ward, where flooding caused massive destruction. Take your passion for Jesus to kids who have lived through challenging times."
This trip is open to adult volunteers, but space is very limited. Service activities will include painting, cleanup, and repair of a volunteer center and homes in the 7th Ward and connecting with kids after school.
Plan now to connect with Jody and reach out with love to the kids and families of New Orleans, November 8-13, 2009. Visit www.lifetreeadventures.com or call 1.800.747.2157 to review the itinerary and reserve your trip.