Children at Risk

A View from the Top of the World


The distressed gray slum seemed at first just another chapter in a long book on human misery.  We took a short walk down muddy paths so narrow, we had to walk single file.  Turning a corner, we heard the voices.  Young voices.  MANY voices.  And all of them singing.

The building containing all those voices was framed in a crisscross of bamboo timbers.  The “walls” were nothing more than bamboo mats.  Inside, 90 Nepalese children (twenty of whom are orphans) were singing Christian choruses with gusto.   It's not the Awana club you might know, but it's one you should know.

Would you come out on a grungy gray morning and sit on a crude wooden bench to learn Bible verses?  These kids did. And two-thirds of them are from non-Christian homes.

Had I known Nepal can be so chilly, I would have packed better.  It was so cold inside, you could see your breath.   But nobody seemed to mind.   As balloons floated over their heads during game time, the kids swatted them back and forth with a laughter whose volume was equaled only by their singing.

After club was over, we met with several of the kids.  We asked what their parents did for work (basic labor), who Jesus was to them (Savior) and what their hopes and dreams were (do kids living in trashy huts even have dreams, we wondered).

An eleven year old girl told us she wanted someday to open an orphanage.  Another said she wanted to go into ministry.   Still another had aspirations of being a Christian singer, reaching out to people.

Asked about their living conditions, not one of them was anxious to leave the slum.  This place is home.  This is normal.  And the fact that Awana is part of the “normal” for them seems to be amazingly important (it's been awhile since this observer has seen so many smiles). 

Nepal is often called the “top of the world” because it's home to the world's tallest mountain.  Hanging out with these young followers of Jesus, that's exactly what you feel—like you're at the top of the world. 

Who'd have thought the view could be so grand from a dingy slum in Kathmandu?

– Jon Gauger
from Kathmandu, Nepal



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