What do you think is the largest and most urgent mission field today?
Did you say Syria? Iraq? Iran?
What if I told you that by far the largest mission field today is one that is most easily overlooked: It’s the children!
- Half the world’s population is under 18 years of age
- In some developing countries more than half are just 15 years old.
Are we going to be like Jesus’ first disciples trying to marginalise them, pushing them aside and hoping they’ll be quiet?
They must not be overlooked. Jesus is still saying, ‘Let the children come unto me, and do not hinder (koluo – ‘prevent’) them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ (Matthew 19:14).
God called children ‘a heritage from the Lord’ but Satan hates children. He hates that they are made ‘in the image of God’ and wants to curtail their God-given future and purpose in life. There is an all-out warfare against them.
Many things keep the children from Jesus, such as the following:
The United Nations claims that at any given time around the world there are at least 40 wars going on, some at larger and some at smaller scale. War is not the children’s fault.
Did you know that one quarter of all world soldiers are made up of children under the age of 16? This includes both boys and girls. Some young girls who have become mothers strap their babies on their backs and set out to fight!
Why are children doing the work of soldiers? That’s an easy answer: because they are cheap! You can lure them with anything. Others become soldiers because of fear. They’ve seen their parents murdered in front of their eyes and they obey out of sheer terror.
- It’s so tragic that these children know how to assemble machine guns and landmines, but can’t read or write!
- Children are often used as suicide bombers.
- If the war doesn’t kill them, a landmine will maim them. An estimated four million children are disabled because of war.
- Statistics say that since l987 – two million children have been killed in combat!
- Around 20 million children are displaced because of war: They become orphans, homeless.
It is estimated that 1.3 billion children live in absolute poverty. The Word Bank defines poverty as: ‘Too poor to afford food and other essentials.’
One eighth of the world population have money in the bank – that’s you and me. The rest don’t. They live from one day to the next.
- The United Nations estimates that there are 160 million street children. The street is their home.
- 800 million are chronically undernourished which causes sicknesses.
- Extreme hunger drives many to crime, after all which will give them more: Begging or stealing?
- Amazingly street children often get high sniffing solvents and become addicted to it; it’s a cheap way of stifling hunger.
Some parents resort to deliberately maiming their babies because they’ve realised that this makes them better beggars! People are more easily moved to give if they see a child with a handicap.
In a South American nation, street kids became an epidemic to such an extent the government was quietly disposing of them. That is until someone found a ‘cheap organ market’! 65 percent of the world’s poorest children live in the Asia Pacific area.
Extreme poverty dehumanises people.
Some parents just don’t have the ‘luxury’ of caring for their own children and so they sell them into ‘slavery.’ Just $200 will buy you a young slave!
It’s hard to believe that in 2016 there is still so much slavery around. A daughter is worth more if sold into slavery than supported at home.
4. Sexual Exploitation
Like never before children are exploited in the sex trade. The United Nations estimates that 10 million children are involved in the sex industry, used for pornographic material, sex torture and prostitution.
The 5th greatest killer of children today is AIDS! Nearly 100 percent of girls used in sexual exploitation carry sexually transmitted diseases. No one bothers spending money giving them medication, because when they die they will be quickly replaced.
Can you feel the Father’s heart aching yet?
Jesus said: ‘Do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children’ (Luke 23:28).
Forget about happy childhoods, just being allowed to play, having birthday celebrations and such.
- Many of these children don’t know how old they are, let alone the day they were born.
- Some don’t even know their real names.
In developed nations children also suffer. Their suffering may be due to different circumstances but it’s still painful. Here they suffer the emotional pain of having their parents’ divorce. They suffer the pain of being neglected: their parents have sacrificed them in the altar of ‘greed.’ Younger kids are now turning to drugs to fill the void in their hearts.
Sad poisoned waters of deceit
Our kids have been fed the poisoned waters of spiritual deceit. When the Harry Potter series first came out thousands of children wanted to join the Satanist church and learn how to cast spells!
Two thousand years ago Herod lashed out against the children of ages two and under – nothing much has changed since then! Satan is still lashing out and children are not even safe in the mother’s womb! In Australia alone around 83,000 babies are aborted each year.
Our children are no longer safe even in our schools. Now with the full endorsement of our government, our children from year 1 all the way to year 12 will receive homosexual indoctrination. This is another way in which Satan is destroying our future, filling their innocent minds with images that most grown-ups have never even imagined.
All this is under the guise of an anti-bullying program called ‘Safe Schools Coalition’ – but by now we know it’s a smoke screen name to keep parents away.
All of this is so sad, isn’t it? The extreme poverty, the constant hunger, the terrifying fear, the unfair exploitation are all abominable!
But the saddest thing of all is that Jesus loves them and they don’t know it!
What can we do, you ask?
Believe it or not, only the church can truly respond. Don’t wait for governments or society to do what only we can do. Only we can ‘let the children come to Jesus.’
Proverbs 31:8-9 says: ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves: ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.’
Why is the majority always silent? Please be a voice! Having pity is useless, we need compassion! Compassion is what drives people to get up and do something useful!
Matthew 9:38 is a verse that actually tells us what to pray for – ‘Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’ The harvest of children’s souls is ripe.
- Are you called? Answer that call!
- Don’t let children fall into the hands of other ‘reapers’ who will only destroy them.
- Make a new commitment in your church or family to reach out to children around you.
- Be a sponsor. Every family in the church can easily sponsor an underprivileged child.
- Regularly affirm the worth in Christ of your children and the children you come into contact with.
- Involve your own children! Let them know that other children are suffering.
- Include the needs of children in the world in your family prayers.
- Support and pray for those who are working with street kids, or children in slavery.
- There are several Christian groups out there. Find one that you can truly get behind.
It is so unwise not to plan for the future. Children are our future! They don’t remain children forever, do they? One life can turn this world upside down…
Making a difference
A small boy in a country town was taunted every day because he didn’t have a dad. He was called the ‘little bastard.’ One day an uncle gave him a gun and with this gun he killed the next boy that taunted him. He was only nine and he had already murdered someone! But from then on he was never taunted again.
- Who did this boy become? Saddam Hussein!
On the other hand, a bed-ridden woman had so much compassion for children. When World War II ended she heard of the many orphans in Japan so she decided to write letters to the children. One child answered her and she continued corresponding with him for nearly 20 years until she died. In her letters she shared the love of Jesus.
- Who did this orphan boy become? The superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Japan!
Just one life…but it does matter! Find a life…and make it happen!
How are we going to respond to Jesus’ Matthew 19:14 command?
We have a responsibility to children!
Some time back headlines around the world exploded with these final, haunting words of a dying three-year-old Syrian boy…
Hey, Christians…it’s an awesome responsibility, but we have an awesome God! Deuteronomy 10:17 declares it: ‘God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome.’
Erica Grace is author of Foundations for the Family, a biblical teaching series suitable for whole congregations. Warmly welcomed itinerant ministers, she and her husband, Chris, are also on the ACC Multinational Pastors Team, Victoria. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / (041) 270 2945