Bradshaw uses his chapter on worldview to address spiritism vs. modernism in mission work. But I would like to point it a slightly different direction, more towards Bryant Myers’ concept of identity and story. “The challenge to the poor is to recover their identity as children of God,” says Myers. 17 Many people look down on street children and view them as worthless, causing damage to children’s self-identity.According to a street child in the Philippines, “They think every child who lives or makes a living in the streets is a bad child.
“18 A UNICEF website comments: The term ‘street children’ is problematic as it can be employed as a stigmatizing label – one of the greatest problems such children face is their demonization by mainstream society as a threat and a source of criminal behaviour. Yet many children living or working on the streets have embraced the term, considering that it offers them a sense of identity and belonging.To truly help street children, Christian aid workers must teach them the full story of our world found in the Bible: how God created us good, how trouble came into the world through sin and the fall, how God still loves us enough to redeem all the lost children to be His own. Only with this worldview will street children have the strength to rise above other’s expectations of them and their own self-negativity. “Contextualization: Communicating Good News”20Bradshaw says, “Contextualization is an effort to understand the frames of reference and world views that people have developed to make sense out of their environment. “21 This concept teaches that Christian practitioners should humble themselves and enter the world of the children. They must first understand thoughts and environment of the children before they can help them. After beginning to understand the children’s environment, the practitioners can then contextualize the Good News of the gospel into the context of the children.
For example, the story of Joseph might have special meaning as a boy who was forced to leave his family and survive in difficult conditions in a distant place away from his family. The story of the Lost Son could possibly explain to them the concept of God’s true love-a Father who not only accepts back runaways and lost children, but runs to them with open arms and throws a party at their return. “Management: Facilitating God’s redemptive power”22 In his chapter on management concepts in transformation development, Bradshaw talks about the management decision-making cycle.When faced with a problem, he says, 1) identify the problem 2) examine the environment that perpetuated it 3) describe its impact on the environment 4) [look for] possible solutions to the problem 5) choose an approach to [solve] it 6) anticipate some possible [results of that approach] 7) implement one solution 8) evaluate the results (decide to accept the results or start the cycle again). 24 This is a useful tool for problem-solving in the street child context.When practitioners face a problem, such as illiteracy, they should be reminded to examine the environment that cause the problem and think carefully through the implications of any solution. To repeat an earlier statement from a World Vision report on children: “well-meaning measures can often have disastrous consequences.
“25 “Education: Liberating and Empowering People”26 One of the points Bradshaw makes in this chapter which may have special implications for street children is that of “involving students as active learners.Children especially benefit from interactive learning. A World Vision evaluation recently made use of this concept in a study called: “Creating Space for Children’s Participation: Planning with Street Children in Yangon, Myanmar. “28 The researchers wanted to evaluate their Street Children and Working Children Program. To do so, they trained street children volunteers in the art of interviewing, note-taking, and research, and empowered the children to write their own interview questions and use their own additional methods.The result was that “staff members reported being extremely surprised and impressed by the ability of the children to participate in this process and moved by what they were able to learn. “29 The chance to participate in learning and real-world research also “brought about a fundamental shift..
. in the way the children viewed themselves. “30 As a 16-year old child in Rio de Janeiro expressed it after finishing some partipatory vocational classes: “‘At least now I feel like I’m somebody, even with no money, no nothing.As Bradshaw points out, Jesus was a prime example of this sort of participatory teacher. For one, he never wrote down his own teachings-he left this responsibility to his bumbling followers, thus empowering them. 32 He also addressed the why question in his teachings, constantly reminding his disciples and followers of their motivation for learning the truth (to be like a house built on the rock to face life’s storms, to prepare for his second coming, and so on).”He addressed their needs and actively involved them in his teachings.
“33 In teaching street children, practitioners should remember to include them actively in the learning process with respect, to make the material applicable to them and constantly remind them of their motivation for learning. From these samples we can see how Christian transformational development principles can be applied to street children development. Other concepts in Bradshaw’s book talked about such topics as the environment, economics, and powers.These further samples could be respectively applied as the need for children to care for their bodies and the city they find themselves in (environment), the need for children to value money correctly and learn how to earn it honestly and save it (economics), and the need for development practitioners to address the power structures that oppress or influence children (powers), from development agencies to police to government legislation, especially legislation addressing under-age sex exploitation.Finally, implicit in every good theory of transformational development are the practitioners themselves. To minister true change to street children, practitioners must themselves be changed. To have the holistic healing effect of Christ on these needy children, practitioners must be also experiencing Christ’s healing and modeling it to their fellow lost children.