What if it was your child? Well it might well be.
We shudder at the news reports of 300 kidnapped Nigerian girls on the other side of the globe, but don’t even stop to think that there are hundreds of young people in our own community who have been taken captive by the enemy.
“The girls we work with are being targeted intentionally by the lies and attacks of the enemy,” said Dannah Shelling, who runs The GAP, a live-in program that empowers young women to take responsibility for their lives and futures.
“They are victims of abuse and victims of a media onslaught that teaches them that they are not good enough.”
According to Dannah, this is the world your daughters probably live in.
“They have to try hard, look better, sleep around, experiment, be sexy and keep up with the latest trends and ideas,” she said. “If they are smart, they are called nerds and looked down on. If they are not so smart, they are called dumb and again looked down on.”
Because of this, Dannah said young girls are growing up hating who they are and constantly comparing and wanting to be like someone else.
While we celebrate that we live in Queensland’s most family-friendly city, in reality, a light scratch of the surface reveals an ugly underbelly where the enemy is running rampant with our youth.
And it’s not just the girls of our community who have been “kidnapped” and suffer the torture of the accuser.
“I’ve worked with young people that live in a home where the people who should be their protectors are their abusers,” said Craig Watson from Teen Challenge. “There are homes where boys and girls are prostituted by their parents for money or drugs. There are young people in our city who starve themselves and vomit after every meal because society dictates that to be beautiful you need to be stick thin.”
“There are young people that take their own lives, because they can no longer bear the cyber and school bullying. Young people that are sexually abused, but are too afraid or ashamed to speak out,” Craig said.
We expect governments to intervene and rescue a group of girls in Nigeria, but what are we doing for the youth in our own backyard?
Thankfully, there are amazing ministries in Toowoomba, like the GAP and Teen Challenge, who are taking up the fight for our youth, and standing against the enemy.
But it is time for everyone to play their part. No longer should we sit back and leave others to do the hard work.
Below is a list of local organisations working with our youth. What’s stopping you from calling one?
What if it was your child?
True stories from real local kids:
A young lady came into our women’s Centre last year with serious self harm and eating disorder issues.
She found it hard to show emotion, had no vision for the future and had a plan to end her life at the age of 18.
God has radically transformed this young lady. Today she has a living relationship with Jesus Christ, has dealt with the hurts of her life and has a vision for her future.
She is an amazing young lady with so much God given potential. We are excited to see how God uses her life for His purposes. TEEN CHALLENGE
At 14, “Mary” started to rebel and fight with her mum and family. By 16, she had left home, been “couch surfing” and was effectively homeless.
“Mary” was depressed, failing year 12, had attempted suicide, was confused about her sexuality, insecure, alone, and in desperate need of practical help.
“Mary” turned up to the GAP as a 17-year-old after her school chaplain contacted us with concerns.
We were able to give her a safe place to call home. She was given access to people and services to help her address some of her problems.
The GAP created the opportunity for “Mary” to feel her life was worthwhile and to be able to make something of her life.
After six months in the GAP, “Mary” was successfully completing year 12, had a positive outlook on life, had gained confidence and acquired life skills that set her up for life after school.
And she had repaired her relationship with her mum and moved back home.
“Mary” may not be your daughter but she is someone’s daughter. There are many other daughters like Mary.
A local girl with local parents in this local community. THE GAP
Youth Organisations that need your help:THE GAP
Empowering girls to take a hold of their future
PH: 0448 941 306
Giving young people who struggle with addiction and abuse a second chance at life.
PH: 4637 0211
THE BASE YOUTH CENTER
Offering programs for at-risk youth
PH: 0438 172 964
Running many programs for the girls of our city
PH: 4638 5768
HUMERIDGE HOMEWORK HELP
Assisting students with their homework
PH: 4635 0350
A ministry reaching out to university students
PH: 4613 0026
This is by no means a complete list. Why not ask your church about their youth ministry?