Kids Around the World: Reaching and Discipling Children

Just opened playground at Cru’s Lake Hart campus

Just opened playground at Cru’s Lake Hart campus


Children in North Korea and at Cru’s Orlando headquarters have something special in common.

Both have playgrounds provided by Kids Around the World.

Kids Around the World (KATW) is an amazing organization. Celebrating 25 years next year, the Rockford, Ill.-based ministry began building playgrounds after natural disasters and wars, in refugee camps and orphanages—wherever there was a need for children to have a place to play.

With 750 playgrounds built so far, the ministry not only brings joy to children who have never seen a playground and replaces many destroyed by man and nature, it serves as a great relational link between local governments and local churches, which often volunteer to help put the playgrounds together.

“Play is crucial to a child’s emotional, physical, social, and creative growth,” according the KATW website. “It’s more than a hobby, it’s a matter of life. With one colorful, unique playground, a whole community is transformed, allowing kids to be kids, and to experience a worry-free environment crucial to healthy development. No matter the culture, play is a universal need, an unspoken language that builds bridges to the hearts of the whole family.”

Playground photos by Mick Haupt

Playground photos by Mick Haupt


North Korea partnership

The North Korea partnership began five years ago with a promise to build playgrounds at 23 orphanages. In 2015 KATW founder Denny Johnson, a life-long friend of my husband, Steve, made a trip to Pyongyang to see the ongoing work and to meet the people they are working with. Nineteen playgrounds have been built so far.

Cru families have wanted a playground at our Lake Hart campus for years, and everything finally came together to see it happen—it opened officially August 1. Staff kids have already been enjoying it, and I know many more will when cooler weather arrives in Florida.

Kids Around the World has broadened its efforts in several directions, always relating to children. The first partner effort was with Jesus Film and The Story of Jesus for Children. Because the film is mostly used in areas where most people are oral learners, KATW undertook to help with follow-up of children who watched the film.

They developed a quality flannelgraph with characters from the film, prepared story lessons for use on the flannel and trained local church members to begin discipling the children.


KIDStory and Story Clubs

That effort has evolved into KIDstory, the major effort of Kids Around the World. “We are passionate about training leaders, creating environments, and providing resources where children are transformed by learning who God is, who they are, and how to have a real and personal relationship with Jesus,” according to the website. “We believe these things happen when the following core essentials are practiced throughout KIDStory: Bible centered, fun, empowering, relational and Spirit-led.

Local believers are trained to lead Story Clubs and to train new leaders. It is a multiplying discipleship ministry.


One more creative effort is making a significant contribution to the lives and health of kids. The OneMeal mission seeks to meet the needs of starving children by empowering people to serve. A mobile food-packing program engages groups to work together in a meaningful hands-on, team-building experience.

The OneMeal product is a nutrient-rich meal packed in a boilable plastic bag, providing greatly needed nutrition for children in poverty-stricken areas. Churches, schools, civic groups can all play a part with a packing party.

I have been privileged to personally engage with Kids Around the World—a stellar ministry. I am grateful for a playground for our Cru kids, but even more grateful for the lives being enriched by these creative efforts.


You can learn much more at their website

I love how Denny Johnson and Jim Rosene, President, along with an excellent Board and quality staff, are reaching the future of our world with effective programs and projects.

C2018 Judy Douglass