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For theirs is the kingdom of heaven

By Tarryn Pegna | 27 May 2020

When Pastor Kimsan received training about children’s rights through a Tearfund partner programme, this new information and way of thinking fit right in with Kimsan’s understanding of how valued each young person is. ‘I learnt that every child has the right to survive,’ says Kimsan, ‘the right to protection, the right to development and the right to participation.’

‘Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”’ (Matt 19:14)

The kingdom of heaven is the inheritance of the youth. They matter that much to God. 

Kimsan Richard* is a pastor in a small town in Cambodia.

He cares deeply about the young people in his community. Every week, he spends time teaching his students about the Bible and important things like good hygiene... and how to play football. 

Ball skills
Football may not seem the most vital skill (to some) but when vulnerable teenagers In Kimsan’s community have too much time on their hands, too much worry to escape, and not enough positive things to occupy them outside of school; drugs, alcohol abuse and gambling become dangerously attractive. Each one looking like a way out, but all too quickly becoming a way down. To protect the young people by giving them something else to do instead, Kimsan formed a football team for them.

Their futures – each planned and purposed by God, with great love – matter to Kimsan.

When Kimsan received training about children’s rights through a Tearfund partner programme, the things he learned gave him new tools. In Kimsan’s community, people had never heard about children having rights before. It just wasn’t the way things were. This new information and way of thinking fit right in with Kimsan’s understanding of how valued each young person is. ‘I learnt that every child has the right to survive,’ says Kimsan, ‘the right to protection, the right to development and the right to participation.’

The message was too important to hold on to and Kimsan began to share it with the people around him.

'I know children are important in the sight of God, but I did not know clearly about child rights before. Now, I understand.’
Pastor Kimsan Richard, Cambodia

Winning ways
‘I began to teach parents and elders in my community and church,’ he says. ‘Before, they used to hit, blame and use bad words to their children, but they have now changed their actions toward children.’ 
  
One of the major challenges to child welfare in Kimsan’s community is that many parents leave to find work in big cities or even across the border in Thailand. Their children are left behind with other carers. To help ensure these children are kept safe, Kimsan teaches the young people about their rights too.

‘Every week, I remind them about child rights and encourage them to bravely tell their friends at school too,’ he says. 

‘I believe all pastors should learn about this,’ says Kimsan, ‘because many children come to church and pastors have to teach children the way God loves them. I know children are important in the sight of God, but I did not know clearly about child rights before. Now, I understand.’ 

PLEASE PRAY



*Name has been changed to protect identity.

This article references events that took place before the coronavirus crisis.

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Photo of Tarryn Pegna

Written by Tarryn Pegna


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