Heaven Belongs to Such as These: The State of Children Around the World

In Ministry by Biblica StaffLeave a Comment

My eyes fail with weeping,

I am in torment within,

My heart is poured out on the ground

Because my people are destroyed,

Because children and infants

Faint in the streets of the city.”

 

Arise, cry out in the night,

as the watches of the night begin;

pour out your heart like water

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.

At first read, you might mistake those words for lyrics by some modern-day pop music artist advocating for the plight of children. Perhaps they were motivated to write by witnessing firsthand the scores of children suffering from hunger and abuse in the shantytowns throughout the world. Maybe the words were inspired by seeing children caught in the grip of gang and drug lords controlling the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Or it could have been the 1.3 billion children currently living in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day), and more than 22,000 children who lose their fight for life every day from the ravages of hunger. The verses might have been a response to the injustice of children being bought and sold on the open market in southern Sudan—traded like cattle and forced to become children warriors or martyrs for some twisted religious or political cause.

But these compelling words aren’t lyrics from a song or a journalist’s story. They are a guttural lament of passion and desperation from Lamentations. This powerful book in the Old Testament was written by the profit Jeremiah more that 2,500 years ago as Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. It’s quite ironic how words written that long ago could so accurately portray the plight and injustices that are still suffocating many children in our modern world. There seem to be no boundaries of time and place when it comes to the mistreatment children face.

Throughout history, we can see a diabolical evil plot of the enemy to distract, disfigure and ultimately destroy the very souls of our most precious resource—our children. Looking around the world today, this plot seems to be unfolding with unprecedented speed in every culture and on every continent – often in ways we don’t even recognize.

Research from the United Nations reveals that about one-third of our global population is under the age of 15. Eighty-five percent of these children live in the developing world. More than 300 million children live in health-or-life threatening slums and shantytowns, and every year more than 1 million children are forced or sold into child prostitution.

Millions of children live and work on the streets of major cities around the world. Many of them have some contact with family members, however, life at home is so bad and violent that living on the streets is more desirable. This indicates a chronic breakdown of the family and domestic security among children globally. Most of these girls and boys, some as young as five years old, spend their days begging, washing cars, street vending, shining shoes, stealing, robbing, prostituting—anything to make it through another day. Many of these displaced children are children of prostitutes, and most will never receive an education beyond the fourth grade.

AIDS, like the Plague during the Middle Ages, has also become a major global threat to children. Millions are orphaned because of the death of their parent to AIDS. The overwhelming need to help these children challenges the church, international organizations and virtually every social system in place, leaving many feeling numb and helpless.

No part of our world is immune to the struggle and challenges facing children. Rich and poor alike are in the enemy’s crosshairs. It’s not necessary for us to be face to face with street children in Latin America or orphans in Eastern Europe to see the battle going on for their lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 40-50 million abortions per year around the world, or about 125,000 per day.

We in North America have our challenges, too. Child advocate William J. Bennet makes some dramatic observations in his book, The American Hearth.  Bennett states, “We have seen the advent of something called the ‘parenting deficit’—a polite way of saying that many parents are, in effect, absent from their children’s lives.” This can have profound effects on children, especially in this digital age.

One significant digital-age impact, often neglected by parents and the church, is the influence and impact that pornography is having on our kids. Stats from Covenant Eyes indicate that 52% of porn is now viewed thru mobile devices, and 1 in 5 searches from a mobile device is for porn.  The average first exposure to porn is age 12. Nine out of 10 boys and six out of 10 girls will be exposed to porn before the age of 18. More than 70% of teens hide their online behavior from their parents. Nearly 30% of 16 and 17-year-olds have been unintentionally exposed to online porn.

As we see these social and spiritual phenomena unfolding in front of us, do we cry out and lift up our hands for the lives of these children? Why are children suffering and being exploited in unprecedented ways in the world we live in? Have things really changed that much since the days of Jeremiah? What does God’s Word have to say to us? What role does it play in our children’s lives?

Good News for Children—The Bible

The word “children” appears more than 480 times in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals to us His love for children—commanding us to protect, nurture and raise them up in a caring environment of love and faith.

For example, Proverbs 22:6 days, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

In Matthew 18:5, Jesus says, “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

As adults, we can learn much from what Jesus says about children. In Mark 10:15, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

The Bible also portrays children at risk. Many children in Scripture found themselves in overwhelming situations. Consider Joseph, honored and beloved by his father, but betrayed by his own brothers—thrown in a pit and sold to slave traders. Or how about Moses, placed in a basket as a baby and put in a river by his own mother in a desperate attempt to save his life.  Jesus Himself was born in a stable. How many children in our world today have been abandoned, sold into slavery or trapped in situations where there is no understanding or hope?

All through Scripture are stories for children about how God loves them and will be with them no matter what their circumstance might be. Let’s never forget that the future rests in the hands of these young ones, and God’s Word will help them shape their life values.

Good News—Responding to the Needs of Children

In recent years, hundreds of ministries around the world have emerged to directly address the challenges facing children around the world. Also, through global children’s movements such as The 4/14 Movement for Children, Lausanne Movement, Global Children’s Forum, Transform World Movement, World Without Orphans, and others, the church around the world is becoming more prepared to be advocates for children in all their harsh settings. Research also indicates that upwards of 85% of those that come to faith, will do so between the ages of 4-14, making children perhaps the largest single mission focus for the church globally.

Partnerships Increase the Effectiveness of Outreach to Children

Hundreds of ministries and global movements around the world are currently reaching out to millions of children through a variety of creative and effective initiatives. Our mission at Biblica is to come alongside these ministries and movements to bring the “bread of life” in the form of Scriptures designed to address their unique needs and circumstances. Every challenge children and our partner ministries face is rooted in a spiritual context, and God’s Word provides the spiritual hope for each situation.

Biblica Bible Resources are Reaching Children and Young People Through Partner Ministries

• The Treasure Hunt New Testament and Full Bible

This New Testament and Bible takes children on a fun-filled exciting journey through God’s Word. Along the way, children meet all types of people, see all sorts of places, and learn all kinds of things about the Bible. Most importantly, they grow closer in their relationship to God.

• Bible Adventures

Bible Adventures, a series of 48 Bible discipleship lessons for children uses art, games and engaging activities for children. It’s a compliment to the Treasure Hunt Bible and is focused on discipleship. Biblica’s children’s ministry partners have found this series to be one of the most engaging and high impact ways to introduce children to the Bible. This program serves as a powerful resource that assists and serves our partner ministries in their desire to bring the Bible to children, especially children-at-risk.

• “The Survivors” Booklet for Children in Crisis

With the overwhelming number of both natural and man-made disasters taking place recently—including the refugee crisis, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding—people are having trouble making sense of our world. While half of those suffering through the world’s crises are children, few Bible resources are available to help them cope. “The Survivors,” a fun-filled booklet designed and sized specially for children, is packet with Scripture and loaded with opportunities to share feelings.

• Reach4Life

The Reach4Life New Testament is a powerful resource for young people as they wrestle with the issues of sexuality. This New Testament includes articles, testimonies, and resources written specially for them. It takes young people through 40 Bible studies illustrating how God’s Word applies to their lives.

Called to a Highly Sacred and Spiritual Mission

At Biblica, we recognize that the entire Word of God contains transformational power when used by the Holy Spirit. As a result, we believe there could be no higher calling than to see the next generation around the world changed forever through God’s eternal truth and saving power. Every child deserves to know there is a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for them, and we must not fail at reaching these children in creative and meaningful ways.

We must be passionate and deliberate, never wavering but persevering in our outreach to children – whether we are helping children a world away or reaching out to those next door, or even in our own homes. Above all, we must continually call on the Lord for guidance—recognizing that ministering to children is not just a nice thing to do, but a highly sacred and spiritual matter. And never forgetting about the battle going on for their very souls.

Please partner with us today to share God’s Word with children around the world.

Biblica Staff

Biblica, the International Bible Society, is a worldwide ministry that has been helping people read and understand God’s Word for over 200 years. We are committed to providing the Bible in accurate, contemporary translations and formats so that more people around the world will have the opportunity to be transformed by Jesus Christ. We do this through translation and publishing, by making the Bible accessible, and with innovative Bible engagement programs like Community Bible Experience. To learn more about our ministry and how you can partner with us to share God’s Word with people around the world, go to our ministry page.