The Alongsiders movement is growing. The leaders are young people aged 16-30 who love Jesus and have a heart for their vulnerable neighbours. They're making a difference in their local churches and communities.
They are passionate. They are loving. And they deeply care about the children with whom they are walking alongside. They want them to be loved and cared for, and they want them to know the love of God. I am so inspired by these young Alongsiders, and I want to introduce some of them to you…
Here is Kim Hong (16) and her little sister Mey Mey.
"I WANT TO BE A LEADER."
This is what Kim Hong told me when we met. She had just signed up to be an Alongsider for Mey Mey, a 12 year old girl in her village. Mey Mey’s family is economically poor. She can’t always afford to go to school, as the fees are expensive for her, and sometimes she needs to stay home to help her mother.
Kimhong chose to be Mey Mey’s Alongsider so that she can help her with her study, give her time to relax and have fun, and introduce her to the love of Jesus. She plans to visit Mey Mey four times a week and help her with her homework. What an inspiring leader she is going to become!
Here is Sokhom (18) and her little sister, Nita.
“I CAN BE HER ROLE-MODEL.”
Sokhom committed to be an Alongsider for Nita. Sokhom loves Nita. When describing her, Sokhom says, “She is so lovely!” Sokhom plans to meet with Nita every week, and she hopes to teach Nita about things that she doesn’t learn at school - such as hygiene. As we've seen many times before, helping a child at the margins to feel clean and healthy is a sure way to communicate love and care for him or her.
Here is Sophanna (17) and his little brother, Suytri.
"I HAVE SOME, SO I WILL SHARE WITH HIM."
Sophanna chose 9-year-old Suytri to be his little brother. Suytri’s family has very little income, and he can't afford to buy school supplies. Sophanna says, “I have some, so I will share with him.” Alongsiders don't receive any payments or subsidies, but they often give generously out of what they have. Such acts reveal the Kingdom of God more than silver or gold. Sophanna says, “I am so happy when he smiles, so I smile too. When he is unhappy, I am unhappy, too.”
This is Sreynin (26) and her fellow Alongsider and friend Phirum.
“I LOVE CHILDREN. I LIKE TO HELP. I LIKE TO SHARE EVERYTHING WITH CHILDREN.”
Sreynin has been an Alongsider to 13-year-old Sreyla for two months now. Sreynin chose Sreyla because she was lonely and often seemed sad. Sreynin meets up with her every week to ask how she is doing and to read the Alongsider comics with her. Because of Sreynin’s encouragement, Sreyla has been going to school more often and has more friends.
“I WANT TO HELP AND SHARE LOVE WITH CHILDREN.”
I don't have a picture for Phirom's little sister, but she has been an Alongsider to her 9 year old little sister for six months now. Phirom chose her little sister because she comes from a violent home. She's lonely and has no one to look out for her. Phirom meets with her little sister 5 days a week, and she cares for many of her basic needs. Some days this means finding clean clothes for her to wear. Other days it means tying her hair. Phirom likes to do little things to show her little sister that she is loved. Before having Phirom as her Alongsider, Phirom’s little sister did not go to school often. Now, with Phirom’s encouragement, she goes almost every day and tries to be on time. “I can be a part of her life. I walk with her and help with her needs.”
Let’s be inspired by these incredible young people and follow their lead by loving our own vulnerable neighbours. And let's pray for this movement to now grow in Europe as well so that many, many more youth and children will be blessed.