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Jesus kids fight slavery in Bay Area church program

Operation Freedom Children's Summer Bible Program combined good deeds for slavery survivors with lessons from the Bible
Operation Freedom Children's Summer Bible Program combined good deeds for slavery survivors with lessons from the Bible
Red Window Project

“Dear, God, please give all the other girls who were slaves scholarships, too, so they can be what they want to be,” is not the prayer one might expect from a 6th grader. Yet Taylor was closing another Friday night session of “Operation Freedom” at Chinese for Christ Church of Hayward in front of dozens of kids from 5 to 12 years old, all praying along with her.

Over the course of the summer, sixty-five East Bay children have been learning that “God helps people through His people,” whether Moses sent to rescue Israelite slaves from Egypt or Jesus’ followers told to “hunger and thirst for justice. “ When asked “and who are God’s people?” at the beginning of the program in June, they all proclaimed “we are.”

So the only conclusion to be made was that they, even if some of them wouldn’t even enter first grade for a few more months, were called to help people. They learned about the injustice of 30,000,000 slaves help captive around the world today. Their response, based on the Bible teaching to “be doers of the word and not hearers only,” was to spend the summer helping trafficking survivors.

Though meager in resources, they went forth in faith (one of their lessons was “when helping people, expect God to come through”). Their mission was to raise money for Red Window Project, an East Bay non-profit that specializes in equipping human trafficking survivors in the Philippines to land jobs and succeed in them. Such career empowerment is essential to remove their vulnerability to further exploitation and even re-trafficking.

These “Jesus kids” rallied behind the cause of two young women in particular who were labor trafficking victims as minors so they can continue their studies to become qualified for their dream careers. Marissa and Laurel are now in college with Red Window Project scholarships, but the organization depends on donations for ongoing funding of the program.

In the midst of this summer of “hearing and doing” on Friday nights, a teacher challenged the group of children while showing a photo of Laurel: “Who is going to pay for her next month of college?” “We are!” Matthew, an 8-year-old, exuberantly declared. They raised enough to do that and much more seeking donations, doing chores, and conducting bake sales all summer.

Justice, they will inform you, is “doing what is right and fixing what is wrong." Their justice quest resulted in $1,077.29 to contribute to Red Window Project to support Marissa and Laurel as they gain the necessary education to pursue their dreams. Marissa intends to devote her life serving children in the Philippines; she is earning a degree in education to become a teacher. For Laurel, her goal is to be a social worker; she is currently a university senior on the honor’s list.

According to the church’s children’s ministry deacon Matt Teng, “our intent with this program was to integrate God’s word, current events, and a service project so the kids could fulfill the Bible’s guidance in First John: ‘let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’”

To put it another way, these kids have shown that actions speak louder than words. By doing so, they set an example for adults to also “go and do likewise” (in the words of their Jesus).

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