Committed to Implement Child-Friendly Church in Sumba

11 Jun 2019

Ps. Apris when leading the Sunday church service in GKS Manubara

It has been more than 3 years Aprianus Meta Djangga Uma (36 yo), also called Pastor Apris, served as a priest in GKS church in Manubara District, Sumba. During the time, he and all the member also boards of GKS church committed to making their church as one of a child-friendly church in Sumba.

How can they start this initiative? What are the obstacles to making idea happens? Read our interview with Ps. Apris below:

What is the background of you and all the members in contributing to making a child-friendly church?

About almost one-quarter children of Manubara do not have a father. Free sex and abuse are common here. As the impact, most of the children are running their life as a salt seller, scavenger or auctioneer of vegetables at the market which can threaten their lives. The sanitation also bad. Last year in April, we found two children died because of tetanus.

There are also many problems among adults, such as high levels of infidelity, making the environment uncomfortable for children. As a result, promiscuity continues to occur. Manubara’s area has an HIV / AIDS emergency level because 3 people have died here. They were children who graduated from high school, then migrated to Bali and were involved in free association there.

Then, we also got a briefing in the form of training on socializing the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Protection Act. There was also a seminar on Child-Friendly Churches and Cross-Religion-Based Child Protection organized by Wahana Visi Indonesia in collaboration with the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection. This also strengthens us. The church immediately moves quickly and acts.

What was the response of the parents when the idea of ​​the child-friendly church movement was socialized at GKS Manubara?

Actually, since this church was built in 1980, it was intended for Sunday school only. Now, with the existence of this child-friendly church movement, we are like returning the function of this church to the beginning. Of course, parents, congregation assemblies and activists of the commission in GKS Manubara strongly support this program.

They hope that with this movement, children will increasingly be directed to do positive things for their future. Parents also begin to realize that educating children is a duty and responsibility that must be done by parents.

What changes have occurred since the movement towards the child-friendly church was initiated in GKS Manubara?

The number of children under the age of 18 is 210 people. So, we try to include them in every activity carried out by the church, such as;

  1. Improve and develop PAUD (Early Childhood Care and Development) which has been running for 3 years.
  2. Develop children's curriculum through the ‘SuperBook’ module. So, children are easier to get to know Bible characters. Activities also become more exciting because they are equipped with movement, dance and praise and memorizing verses (Cheerful Friday).
  3. Develop extracurricular activities (dancing, singing, playing soccer).
  4. Developing a Sunday school by adding to the hours of children's worship, namely in the morning at 09.00 and in the afternoon at 16.00. In addition, there is an addition of 1 place of worship in the Pamalala (Pakamburung) area.
  5. Activate and involve children in service or worship at public services.
  6. Hold creative bazaars by developing children's talents through singing contests, Bible quizzes, national intelligence, and healthy baby competitions.
  7. Establish a children's forum.
  8. Sharing the Bible for children.

What are the challenges of realizing this child-friendly movement so far?

The low motivation of volunteers (volunteers) to assist children. I think this should be the struggle of all parties. Then, bad habits that are still difficult to change such as still doing physical and verbal violence among the congregation.

How to deal with these challenges?

Keep on pushing them to keep up their spirits, not give up and continue to survive. I myself must also maintain that commitment by always remembering that we must submit to God's will. Understand what God wants for children. Embed in each of our hearts that the heart of God is always attached to the child.

How optimistic can the aspirations of the GKS Manubara towards child-friendly church be achieved?

We hope that since the program was launched on June 9, 2018, when the 2nd GKS Manubara Anniversary, in December 2019 we have been able to fulfill 7 GRA indicators. (GRA indicators namely (1) the existence of child protection policies at the church / synod, (2) the existence of an adequate budget for the field of children (at least 20%), (3) the existence of groups / forums of children in the church involved in decision making (4) the existence of a church-based child protection system and (5) the existence of church resources to protect children faced with legal issues. (6) Availability of PAUD integrated with Sunday schools. (7) The existence of a holistic childcare program in the digital era in the church

What is the message for other churches in Sumba?

Hopefully, other churches can also develop child-friendly church by starting small steps in accordance with the potential that the church has. Until now, GKS Tanaraing also wants to be involved in the GRA movement.


Written by: Uliyasi Simanjuntak, East Sumba Area Program Staff Wahana Visi Indonesia


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