In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
“Christians should affect destinies, not just modify current circumstances”, says Jenn Brown, member of OneHope. The organisation develops programs and tools to contextualise the Bible for children in different cultures.
“There is no justice—social or spiritual—without Jesus”, believe the members of OneHope, an organisation that aims to give every child in the world an opportunity to discover Jesus in the Bible.
Jenn Brown visited Europe to know the context of the continent better and attended the Refugee Highway Partnership roundtables in Catania, in which she got an “European picture of the church’s involvement in the refugee crisis at the grassroots level.”
Evangelical Focus asked Brown some questions about the organisation she represents, having in mind the needs of European churches who are reflecting on how to share the gospel with children arriving from other cultures.
Question. OneHope has a clear focus on teaching the Bible to children. Where does this vision come from?
Answer. We exist to affect destinies, not just modify current circumstances. That’s a tall order, but one we are passionate about fulfilling. We have always believed that if we could share God’s Word with every child, the world would be drastically different.
Proclaiming the Gospel and providing compassionate relief are both important parts of evangelism. There is no justice—social or spiritual—without Jesus. Until we treat the root cause of life’s problems, we will only be providing temporary aid and not lasting life-change.
For almost 30 years, OneHope has continued with the same vision to provide God’s Word to every child. In 2014, we distributed the one billionth Book of Hope! This year alone, we will reach nearly one hundred million children and youth with culturally and age appropriate Scripture-engagement programs. We believe it’s important to present children and youth with the Gospel message and give them a chance to accept, trust and believe in Jesus. We believe He is the only “thing” we can give that will introduce them to the One who can truly transform their lives.
Q. What are some good ways to share Bible stories with children from other cultural backgrounds (for instance, Syrian children arriving to Europe and getting in contact with local church members)?
A. Speaking specifically to the needs of Syrian refugee children, our partners in the MENA region have created a short film to show to these children and their families. The Not Alone film was chosen because of the rising illiteracy rates and the sensitivity to the Bible in this region. After showing the film, the partners found it effective but desired to create a product to continue to speak to the refugees. So, we created a wordless Book of Hope for the refugees to take home, feel empowered and be reminded that they are not alone.
Q. You took part of the 2016 RHP Europe conference in Catania. What did you learn there?
A. My experience at the RHP Europe conference was unique from many of the attendees. I attended the conference with the entire European Refugee context in mind, rather than a specific country or community. I was able to get a European picture of the church’s involvement in the refugee crisis at the grassroots level. My biggest takeaway was the need for strategic conversations to be able to mobilize resources and partnerships to meet the growing demands of the crisis.
It was wonderful to meet individuals who are daily working with refugees in their communities. I felt truly honoured and privileged to work alongside and learn from them for that week.
Q. Do you have any resources which could be helpful for churches in Europe to use while working with children of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants...?
A. Yes, there is the The Bible App for Kids. It is available for free download in over 10 languages, and many more on the way. Then, we have “Children in Crisis: A Qualitative Assessment of the Syrian Refugee Experience Among Children & Youth”.
The “Not Alone Film” is a 23- minute Arabic short film produced to bring a message of hope to Syrian refugee children, youth, and adults. ‘Filmed on location in the Middle East, the film follows the story of a teenage boy, Khalil, who looses his family and is faced with the opportunity to transcend his struggles in a new country. Confronted with tragedy and trauma, Khalil represents the millions of young Syrians who confront tragedy and trauma throughout the Middle East and beyond.’
We have the 17 Stories Program. It is made up of 16 individual cards, a tool that uses individual Bible stories as well as the meta-narrative of the Bible to reinforce the way each story in the Bible fits into the larger framework of God's “Big Story." This is an oral based product, and has been used across Europe within Refugee communities.
Q. Do you have a strategy to reach children globally with the Bible?
A. Right now, OneHope is in its sixth year of our main initiative called Vision 2030. Our goal is to reach every child with God’s Word by the year 2030. We do that by distributing our books and products through our local partners, but also by empowering the local church and other non-profits who are working in their communities to spread the Gospel to children and youth. We are reaching into the digital realm with the Bible App for Kids, in partnership with YouVersion, which has just reached 10 million downloads. In addition, we use a short film, entitled The GodMan, which has been effective in church planting as well as Scripture engagement. These are some examples of the hundreds of products, programs and partnerships that have been developed, are being utilized and will be innovated to reach our goal.
ABOUT JENN BROWN
Transplanted from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jenn Brown currently lives in sunny South Florida (USA). At OneHope, she works to strategically connect and engage global partnerships in order to expand the mission and vision. Jenn is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She holds a B.A. degree in Ancient Near East Studies and an M.A. in Social Entrepreneurship.