Children ‘at risk’ are focus of world prayer

31 May 2013

VIVA

Hands on: children pray in Pakistan 

Hands on: children pray in Pakistan 

BROKEN families will be prayed for by hundreds of thousands of people in more than 40 countries this weekend.

The World Weekend of Prayer, organised by the international charity for children Viva, is held every year over the first weekend of June. This year, Christians are encouraged to pray for "children whose families are struggling, whose families are broken, or whose families are absent".

Resources for churches highlight that half of all those living in refugee camps around the world are children; that 132 million children are on record as "orphans"; and that, every day, 39,000 girls become "child brides".

Last year, 87,000 children, and 800 churches around the world, took part in the prayer event, and prayer marches were held in some countries.

"It's very much a global event," the communications manager at Viva, Andrew Dubock, said this month. "Prayers take place even in places where it is tricky to be a Christian, like Pakistan." In the community in which they lived, "it is a beacon. Children at risk in countries are praying for other children in other countries. It's not 'us and them', but 'them and them'."

Viva was founded in 1996 by Patrick McDonald. Its mission is to co-ordinate collective action in cities around the world, based on the belief that "a network of churches and community organisations, locally focused and united in purpose, is the best possible vehicle for bringing lasting change for children".

The charity works in 21 different countries, supporting thousands of projects that work with children at risk in 35 city-wide networks. Each network links together small and large NGOs, enabling them to share resources and expertise.

Mr McDonald was inspired to set up the charity after a visit to Paraguay as a 17-year-old, when he discovered four different churches providing food for street children in a park on Mondays. None of the churches was aware of the work of the others, so the children feasted on Mondays, and starved the rest of the week.

For resources for the World Weekend of Prayer, visit www.viva.org/world-weekend-of-prayer.aspx.

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