Creating Safe Spaces For Children In Honduras
Assistance from North Texas makes effort possible, says regional missionary Dr. Desiree Segura-April
Support from the North Texas Conference, and Christ UMC Plano – through a partnership with the United Methodist Mission in Honduras – has paved the way for making Honduran churches safe places for children and youth.
Great work has been done with the Mission to develop a clear path toward this. The vision is that the churches of Honduras will develop or improve holistic ministry programs with children in their churches and communities, including the creation and implementation of child protection policies (Safe Sanctuaries).
The goal is to present Child Protection Policies to be approved and adopted for all churches in the United Methodist Mission in Honduras at the Mission’s Annual Meeting in January 2021. By December 2021, pastors and lay leaders will be trained in the implementation and application of the Child Protection Policies for each local church of the United Methodist Mission in Honduras.
Initial training with pastors took place in October and December 2019. At these workshops, pastors discussed biblical and theological foundations for ministry with children at risk, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, a basic introduction to child abuse and how to develop a code of conduct for ministry with children and youth. The pastors were tasked with working on their codes of conduct with their local churches and beginning to evaluate what they needed to do in order to make their churches safe spaces.
At the same time, a Child Protection Committee was formed and began to meet in order to receive training and coaching in the process of developing Child Protection Policies for the Mission. Through monthly meetings, participants have explored more in-depth the reasons why this is important, how to understand abuse and how this can happen in churches, some of the biblical and theological foundations for child protection, and how to understand laws related to protecting children in Honduras.
At the Annual Meeting in January of this year, all delegates participated in a workshop designed to explore the value and importance of ministry with children and youth, what they need to flourish, what are some of the risks they face in Honduras in our churches and communities, how the church is currently responding, and a challenge for how we can improve our responses and begin to create safe spaces for them in our churches.
Over the next few months, gatherings of pastors, lay leaders and Christian Education volunteers in the three different regions of Honduras will begin to listen to them in order to understand their context and their current ministries. This includes a process of analyzing current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges in order to identify how best to support them in their process of developing holistic ministries for children and youth in their churches and communities.
It is because of your generous support – financially, relationally and prayerfully – that we are able to provide the Mission and their churches with this training and regional gatherings. Please pray with us as we continue in this important process of creating safe spaces for the children and youth in the communities and churches where the United Methodist Mission of Honduras ministers!
Dr. Desiree Segura-April is a regional missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries based in Honduras.
Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2020