Mission Workers Addressing Endemic Sexual Abuse

In my last post I wrote about the tiny Peruvian village church where my son has been helping the people to learn and teach the Bible.  In this one I’d like to tell about what two children’s ministries workers were doing there that day.My son Brendan spends part of his time working with a Peruvian ministry called AIDIA (a Spanish acronym).  Most of the people who work with group are Peruvian, and their goals are to spread the usage of the Quechua Bible, increase literacy, develop good teaching materials in the Quechua language, strengthen and support indigenous churches, and help the Quechua people deal with some of their own difficult social issues.  Two of the foremost issues are alcoholism and sexual abuse.

So on the morning we went to the San Gabriel church, two young women from AIDIA presented a message to both the children and the parents after the Bible teaching time.  The presentation was on sexual abuse.  I was surprised to see them raising such a personal, difficult topic with a congregation they hadn’t known very long, but Brendan told me the pastor had been in favor of them doing it.  The two young women gathered the children up front.  They told the children their bodies belonged to God and showed some drawings that explained the private areas of the body.  They then showed a video about a girl distressed by an abusive relative, and they taught the children a song that outlined basic refusal skills.  One of the leaders then took the children outside to talk with them further, while the other spoke with the adults.  At this point, since Brendan and Erin were finished with their part in the day’s work, we left; but we all had been impressed with the forthright, loving way the young women dealt with such a heartbreaking topic.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is often all too familiar to Quechua women and girls.  it is most often perpetuated in a situation like uncle-to-niece.  Children are often looked after by extended family members living in close proximity or even in the same house, and this kind of trouble can easily occur.  In addition, because of the culture’s great reluctance to bring shame on the family, speaking out can be very difficult.  I deeply respect AIDIA’s courage in taking on this painful work.

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