This article was originally published in Edition (3) of Prayer Magazine, Summer 2005.

Worldwide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk

On the 4th June, the 10th, the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk took place, facilitated by Viva Network. Around three-quarters of a million Christians joined us to lift up the homeless, hungry, exploited and hurting children of the world to God!

Over the last ten years, the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk (WWDP) has brought hundreds of thousands of Christians together across the globe, to pray for the children of the world.

Viva Network, the organisation that began the day of prayer, is a movement of Christians passionately concerned for children at risk. We help Christians work together to improve children’s lives by creating networks among ministries in different parts of the world, because collaboration brings greater effectiveness. Our work provides vulnerable children with more services of better quality, plus a bigger voice speaking up for their interests.

Prayer is the foundation of all we do with 1.2 billion children at risk, we know that humanly we are facing a crisis which we cannot hope to fight. But, ‘with God, all things are possible’ Matt 19v26, so we are committed to bringing more and more people to pray for these children.

Each year we provide resources to help people pray for children at risk on the first Saturday of June. While we facilitate the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk, our role is really a catalyst for Christians around the world, to inspire and inform them to pray for children and wake up others to their need.

Prayer for the WWDP has taken place in every setting imaginable, from homes, to churches, to stadiums seating thousands. This year, 2500 children in El Salvador took part in a ‘prayer procession’ through their town, raising awareness of the needs of children at risk. In Cape Town, South Africa, children from different areas came together to serve at ministries for children at risk, and then to pray for these children.

In over 90 countries, Christians have responded to God’s call to “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your hearts in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street” Lamentations 2v 19

We have seen change as we have prayed, and we have seen unprecedented unity as together the church has caught the vision and committed to pray for children at risk.

But what will happen in the next ten years? Projections are grim; for example, experts suggest that by 2015, 40 million children will have lost their parents to AIDS (Source – Unicef). As God’s people, we have His power within us, and we know that nothing is beyond Him. We don’t have to accept the situation and the negative outlook of the world. We need to pray with faith for a transformation in the lives of the 1.2 billion children at risk.

Did you know that today, 27,000 children will die of preventable diseases, like diarrhoea, measles and malnutrition? That’s the same as if an aeroplane full of children crashed every 16 minutes, killing everyone on board. God’s heart hurts for them. If we are to be like Him, our hearts must hurt for them. We need to cry out to Him to change this, to bring healing, release and justice.

So often, we have left children out of our strategies and our missions, though 85% of Christians make their decision to follow Christ as children, under 15% of the church’s resources are used to support children and reach out to them (Source – Barna Research Group). We have focussed on adults at their expense, but it’s not too late for this to change. We need to ‘defend the cause of the week and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed’ (Psalm 82v3).

Believe with us that God has already won the battle, and that we can overcome the darkness of the world, the pain and suffering of children at risk, in the name of Jesus.

That is what the PCMN network for children at risk did last year in the Philippines. PCMN cares for abandoned and disadvantaged children through a number of ministries, and last June, it brought 500 of these children together for an interactive day of prayer. Children had the opportunity to contribute to the day in various creative ways, illustrating God’s love in dance and drama presentations, and conveying the needs of children in their nation through role-play. As well as generating thousands of hours of prayer, the event raised children’s self-esteem by involving them, and showing them that their creative gifts are valuable.

It is possible to get huge numbers of people involved as JDA, the Indonesian national children’s prayer network demonstrated in 2004. It mobilised all of its prayer groups to pray for children at risk, which means that up to 600,000 children were interceding on the day in one country alone!

When I visited Jakarta in March this year, I was struck by the leaders’ faith and vision for their nation: despite already reaching such a large number of children on a regular basis, the network aims to start 12 new city-wide children’s prayer networks each year, so that there is increasing prayer for children, and increasing numbers of children given the opportunity to pray and be disciple. They have really grasped the strategic significance of children in God’s kingdom, and again mobilised prayer for this year’s World Wide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk.

Our prayers make a difference. David knew this, and in Psalm 17v6 states, “I call on you God, for you will answer me”. Over the years, Viva Network has heard hundreds of reports of answered prayers following the World Wide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk.

Last year in Nigeria, four children were healed of HIV after prayer events focussed on the needs at their orphanage. Shortly after the day of prayer, they were re-tested for HIV and found to be negative, despite having been ill and tested positively months before.

Legislation changed in the Democratic Republic of Congo after specific prayer for the plight of child soldiers there, so that it became illegal to use children in armed conflict in that country. This was a huge step forward in a nation that had involved thousands of children in war over years of internal conflict.

Prayer works! Again and again in Scripture, we hear that the vulnerable are on God’s heart, and that we should ‘defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.’ (Psalm 82v3).

It should not surprise us that when we pray in line with God’s will in this way for children at risk, He hears and responds!

There are children at risk in every part of the world, and while some areas have more visible problems than others, we need to pray for children who are suffering everywhere.

Our prayer booklet this year focuses on each region and the needs of the children in those places. Below is an introduction to each region, to help you begin to pray for children around the world.

Africa:

The nations of Africa face an increasing number of challenges as they cope with the rise of the AIDS pandemic, and as many remain tied to debts to the western world. Every day, Sub-Saharan Africa spends nearly $30 million on debt repayments, which is more than it receives in aid. This prevents many countries from investing enough in healthcare and education, affecting the future of their children. A high proportion of families live in abject poverty. Conflicts in some of these nations add to the risks faced by children there, often leading to separation from parents, injury or involvement in the fighting. The church is growing in Africa, and change is happening as people pray in Uganda, following a movement of prayer and a government education programme, the HIV infection rate is actually getting lower.

Prayer points:

Pray for children living with HIV, and for the 6000 children who are orphaned every day by AIDS.

Pray for health programmes to raise awareness about AIDS prevention and lower the rate of infection.

Pray that children who would have been involved in war, would be able to recover from the trauma of their experiences.

Pray that action would be taken to prevent armies and guerrilla groups using children to fight.

South and Southeast Asia:

As a region, South and Southeast Asia is deeply diverse. An example of this is its wide range of religions and cultures: India is mainly Hindu, China is dominated by the atheistic communism of its government. Indonesia is largely Muslim and Cambodia is primarily Buddhist. Despite these differences, there are many issues that affect children in similar ways across the region. Child labour is a significant problem, and frequently conditions for child workers are dangerous and harmful to their health.

HIV/AIDS is spreading fast in the region, currently 5.6 million people in South and Southeast Asia are infected with the disease, and the worst-affected nation is Cambodia (Source – Tearfund). The sex industry exploits hundreds of thousands of children there, fuelled by local demand, sex tourism and crippling poverty in many areas.

Prayer points

Pray for governments to enforce laws regarding child protection and prostitution, and to take action to stop sexual exploitation.

Pray for children to come to know the acceptance and unconditional love of God, and the hope of a future lived in his freedom.

Pray that the governments would make it a priority to enforce laws regarding fair and safe employment.

Central and South America:

Latin America is a region of contrasts, where the gap between rich and poor is often vast. In Brazil, for example, the poorest 20% of the population account for only 2.2% of the country’s income (Source – Tearfund). Many people live in poverty-stricken slum areas, where open sewers run down the streets, and families live in over-crowded, poorly-built housing.

There is frequently political unrest in countries such as Columbia, and the unstable environment contributes to high numbers of street children in many of the Central and South American nations. When families are displaced, children are often separated from their parents. Children are also amongst the most vulnerable to injury during times of conflict, and have been used as child soldiers in civil wars in the continent.

Prayer points

Pray for a more equal distribution in the wealth of Latin American nations, so that the poorest have enough.

Pray for all the children living on the streets in Central and South America, and around the world.

Pray for the organisations working to help these vulnerable children, that they would be able to bring God’s love and care to more and more of them.

 

Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East:

These areas all come into the region known as the ‘10/40 Window’, the part of the world where the fewest people have heard the Gospel.  The majority of the countries here have a strong Muslim influence, which often restricts Christians’ efforts to tell others about God. Persecution is common, often threatening the lives of Christians who openly express their faith. Children are at risk, due to conflict in nations like Israel, where religious tensions cause Palestinian and Israeli families to live in oppression and fear. In Central Asia, the legacy of former Soviet rule is often a lack of infrastructure to care for the vulnerable, and high unemployment. The poverty that this causes means that children can suffer from poor diet and health problems.

Prayer points

Pray for peace in troubled areas such as Israel and Iraq. Pray that children’s lives will be protected, and that they will grow up without bitterness towards other religious and ethnic groups.

Pray for openings for the Gospel in countries that do not allow religious freedom. Pray that children would hear and believe, and share God’s truth with their communities.

Pray for improvement in the economies of many Central Asian countries, so that mothers and children have access to a balanced diet and good healthcare.

Eastern Europe and Russia:

Following the collapse of Communism and the fall of the Iron Curtain, the countries of Eastern Europe have experienced rapid change but also significant economic and social difficulties which seriously impact children’s well-being.

In Romania, poverty is a serious problem for the nation; there is 40% unemployment, and health services are deteriorating. The Communist regime in these countries was certainly oppressive, but it did provide social services that are lacking in many of the nations that now have a democratic government. Their desperate poverty causes many young people to seek employment abroad, but this puts them at risk of traffickers who trap them into exploitation and slavery. Minority groups such as gypsies are particularly affected by poverty and marginalisation, the majority of children in Slovakian children’s homes come from gypsy families.

Prayer points:

Pray that governments will invest in services for health, education, and childcare.

Pray that they would see the benefits of working with parents to help them cope with supporting their families, rather than putting so many of these children into orphanages.

Pray for a reduction in the poverty that causes such insecurity, so that families can look to the future with hope.

Western Europe, North America and Australasia:

Although these regions are far apart geographically, children face similar risks in all three areas. They include countries which are predominately wealthy, but unfortunately this does not mean that children will always be protected from risks that can harm them. Large numbers of couples divorce, and their children often have very limited contact with the parent who leaves home. Abortion rates are increasing, so the unborn child is more and more at risk.

Poverty does exist, and is often a problem for single parents who have to provide financially for their children, as well as to take care of them on their own.

The media can be a potentially harmful influence, with frequent violent or sexual images on television and the internet. Children are also influenced by the ‘peer pressure’ of others their age. They can feel that they have to be like everyone else in order to be accepted, and this can lead to negative patterns of behaviour, such as eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse.

Prayer points:

Pray for God to reveal His Father heart to children without contact with their natural fathers, and to bring healing to damaged relationships.

Pray for a reduction in divorce, so that children grow up with the love and support of both parents.

Pray for God to speak to women who are thinking about abortion, and for governments to make godly decisions about abortion legislation.

Email: wwd@viva.org

Website: www.viva.org/wwdp

If you like this article, why not subscribe to Prayer Magazine - Click here to Subscribe {LINK : https://www.prayermagazine.com/subscribe}

 

Copyright Use - You can use and re-print this article if desired.  However we require that you reference Prayer Magazine and the Author in the reproduction.

 


This website is powered by Church Edit | Privacy Notice