Entries in 32 Days of Prayer (33)
Our goal for this entire 32-day campaign is that you would feel equipped and empowered to pray well for specific issues your sponsored child might face.
For our final prayer topic, however, we have a special request. Please watch the video below, and know that as we cover the children registered in our programs with prayer, we are covering you as well. May God bless you for all you do.
We’re almost there, the end of our 32-day prayer campaign. Do you feel like you’ve learned enough to pray well for your sponsored child? We’ve covered so many topics, but in many ways we’ve saved the best for last.
When the apostle Paul was writing to young Timothy, he gave some great advice. "Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important for it promises a reward in both this life and the next." 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
As much as One Child Matters programs focus on the physical needs of the children, our hope and prayer is that their spiritual health is improved as well. Like Paul’s letter to Timothy, your letters to your sponsored child can offer the same encouragement. Your words are powerful, and your prayers hold so much weight in their hearts.
How we can pray today:
Jesus spoke frankly with the disciples and the crowds when he called certain values into question. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). We hope to equip children for success, but coming to a saving faith in Jesus may have real costs in their culture. Pray the truth of Christ settles deeply into their heart, that their love of God grow so deep that they can look at the world and see nothing to gain. May they always find their true worth in Christ.
Psalm 119 has many verses that we can pray through for the children registered in our programs. One powerful verse is 143: “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Using this verse as a guide, you can pray for your sponsored child by name. “As pressure and stress bear down on Munni, may she find joy in your commands.”
Other verses in Psalm 119 are great promises from God or challenging prayers. Pick one of the following verses and pray over it, using your sponsored child’s name. Psalm 119: 9-11, 18, 30-37, 41-48, 50, 59, 66-67, 74, 77, 92-93, 103, 105, 107, 111, 116, 133, 149, 165 and many in between!
Pray for the teachers and staff who pour into your sponsored child. May they be a strong example of your devoted disciple. May their faith relationship with Jesus inspire the children and encourage them to ask good questions and grow deeper themselves.
Pray for the wisdom God imparts as these children face difficult situations both at home and in their communities. May they be Christ’s light in the darkest places.
Pray that God gives you the verses or encouragement your sponsored child needs to hear to take steps closer to Jesus. Pray those words fall on the good soil of your child’s heart.
Lord, we thank you that we can come to you, and that our children can come to you at any time. Lord, help us all to see when we are forfeiting our souls for this world. May we dive deep into your Word and find your promises there. May those promises be the foundation of our lives, and may we help build that foundation in these children.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
We may have grown up hearing it: You are special! You have potential. You can do anything you want when you grow up.
For children growing up in extreme poverty, however, everything says the opposite. You’re no different the rest. You’ll never get out of here. You will be stuck here.
Those messages may multiply in their home and community. They may be undergirded by the culture or by different religious systems.
It takes more than spoken words to counteract those persistent thoughts. It takes action, intention, and steadfast investment in the children.
In short, when our staff tells a child they are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, they back it up with every interaction. They value their time with the children, because the children are worth it.
It’s responding to children as Jesus did, gathering them into his arms, delighting in their presence. It’s telling a young girl that she is beautiful, or a young man that he is handsome because that’s how God sees them.
This is also where sponsorship comes in. Imagine what it must feel like for a child to learn that someone on the other side of the world wants to ensure they have what they need. Or what it would be like to receive a letter for the first time, filled with encouraging words and loving prayers.
And then mission teams may arrive to lavish attention and fun, to rejoice over them with singing and dancing, to play and encourage and meet needs.
When a child enters a One Child Matters program, they get a small glimpse of the gospel in every interaction. Just as God came for us, meeting us where we were in the depth of our sin, we can go into a child’s world and pursue them, providing a way for them that they could not earn or fight into.
Our hope is that One Child Matters' programs send a message deep into the heart of a child: you matter – to God, and to us. You are important to the world. You can make a difference. You are capable because you are made in God’s image, and he has equipped you to change the lives of others.
Lord Jesus, how you loved us, and what an example you gave us in loving others. May the seeds of your love find good soil in the hearts of these children. May your heart be evident in the actions and words of the staff. Give us the words these children need to hear and see so that they fully understand what it means to be your child.
One Child Matters' projects strive for holistic child development, meaning we try to address or provide opportunities for physical, mental, spiritual and social or emotional development. While the past few weeks have covered challenges to physical development quite well, we don’t want to minimize the importance of the other categories.
One way we can address all of these needs may seem superficial, but we’ve found it to be important: appearance. Many schools require uniforms and special shoes, sometimes the newest outfit a child has ever owned. The project staff can help children learn to maintain their uniforms and polish their school shoes.
We’ve all experienced how ruthless children can be when someone stands out or doesn’t fit in. Part of the hygiene lessons a program teaches attempt to eliminate those issues, but there is also the emotional impact of those taunts. How can a child respond to such situations in a godly manner?
As the project staff addressed these issues, they also found that when a child can maintain a tidy appearance, the child’s parents respond in positive ways. This was especially true in the Dominican Republic, where mothers hold significant sway in child’s life. Although some mothers took pride in a child’s appearance, others were known to mock their sons if they looked unkempt.
In response, one project found a unique way to keep children looking neat and trim: they brought in a barber. This helpful service took on new meaning when the barber began teaching older children how to cut hair, as well.
One young man, Juan Jose, was a quick learner who handled the trimmers well. After three months of training, Juan Jose took over the barbershop duties as needed. After school, he typically cuts the hair of a half dozen boys. The project staff noticed a change in the young boys immediately -- maintaining a well-groomed appearance increased their confidence. They began acting like young men. And Juan Jose quickly became an effective role model.
That is another avenue of holistic development One Child Matters tries to provide. Vocational classes like the barber course Juan Jose took, or tailoring or computer classes can be offered for older children. Some projects are able to offer English classes or tutoring as well. This equips older children with confidence as well as marketable skills that may help them earn money.
A few additional vocational classes make a huge difference in the lives of older children, who often face outside pressure to compromise their beliefs to fit in. Gangs have become increasingly prominent in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Our programs have found, however, that children who have a strong foundation in God and know that they have skills that can provide stable, honorable income later in life are more likely to resist the pull of gangs and other illicit activities. The longer a child can stay in the program, the more likely they are to become role models for younger children.
Lord, we praise you that you are an equipping God who gifts his people with talents and skills to help the body of Christ. You are honored in the creativity of the staff who seek to uphold the worth of children while improving their confidence. We pray, Lord, that as the children come to understand who they are in you, their parents see you reflected in them as well.
A potent weapon in the fight against poverty and ill health is education. Because your sponsored child can attend a One Child Matters center or school, they have access to something that’s far too often out of reach for families struggling to make ends meet: educational support and tutoring.
In our programs, there is no culture of bribes to secure tutoring. The adults who offer the educational support at One Child Matters centers also understand the drain of poverty and the importance of education.
They also recognize that parents may not value educating their child, especially if sending a child to school means one less set of hands to bring in income.
Our staff often fights for a child to continue schooling because studies have long shown that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. But what does that mean exactly? How does education affect a child in poverty?
A child who attends a One Child Matters program has access to clean safe water and nutritious snacks or supplemental meals.
The more nourishment a child receives, the more likely they are to fight off common infections and illnesses.
The healthier the child is, the more likely he or she is to stay focused in school. The better they do in school, the more likely they are to go on to secondary education.
Adolescence is a pivotal period, as educational levels dictate when a young person marries and the type of job they may be able to find.
For girls, an extra year of primary school boosts her eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school adds 15 to 25 percent. Research also shows a consistent relationship between the level of a mother’s schooling and her infant and child’s health.
This is in part because the more education a girl has, the later she marries. And the later she marries, the later she has children, resulting in better health for both mother and child. Medical complications from pregnancy are a leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.
Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in childbirth. Girls ages 10-14 are five times as likely to suffer fatal complications as their older counterparts. It is estimated that 15% of girls in developing countries marry before the age of 15. Early marriage often means a girl’s education ends.
But a halted education affects more than the child who had to stop – if a child no longer has access to important resources like nutrition and clean water in addition to schooling, chronic malnourishment increases with life-long consequences such as stunting and anemia. Children born to a malnourished mother have low birthrates and stunted growth, if they survive.
Yet a child born to a mother who is able to read has a 50% better chance of surviving past the age of 5. Adults who can read and write have higher rates of participation in political life and can influence the world around them.
This is why Mission of Mercy advocates for the rights of children to receive schooling and adequate nutrition: the effects can extend for generations. As Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” At One Child Matters, we believe that change happens in the life of a child – and in the lives of children yet to come.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us a chance to change a life in your name. You know the generations who will be impacted because of the choices we make today. Continue to guard and protect our sponsored children and those aided by these programs. May the strength and character you are building in them be the foundation for change in their communities and countries.
Shohidul was playing near a pond with friends when it happened – a dog bit his shoulder and neck. The child ran home to his mother, who raced him to the hospital.
The doctor was brief: her son needed the rabies vaccine or he would die. His mother did not have the money, so her village loaned her the cost.
Shohidul received the vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin and was saved, but her troubles were just beginning. The village wanted repayment, but it was impossible given her tiny salary. The village threatened to kick her family out of their house and sell everything they owned to recoup the cost.
A dog bite seems like a small thing, but in developing countries like Bangladesh, dog bites pose a very real danger. Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries, and more than 55,000 people die of rabies each year. 40% of people bitten by rabid animals are children under 15 like Shohidul. Dog bites account for 99% of human rabies deaths, and 95% of those deaths occur in Africa and Asia.
In the US, dogs are vaccinated against rabies (most US rabies infections come from bats) but in the developing world, this isn’t so. Thus, children like Shohidul are at tremendous risk. Without treatment, rabies is almost always fatal. Yet many families living in poverty do not have access to the funds for such care.
The staff at Shohidul’s One Child Matters project heard what happened, and upon checking up on the boy, learned of their tenuous living situation. Knowing that One Child Matters’ Children’s Crisis Fund could help in situations like these, they applied on the mother’s behalf. Could One Child Matters help offset the cost and repay the village loan?
In the request we received, the staff relayed the desperation of Shohidul’s situation. The mother, a widow, had no other means of support. The loan was a staggering amount given her meager income. The only other option was to pull Shohidul out of school in hopes that together they could make enough money to pay back the loan before the village kicked them out.
The amount of the loan was the equivalent of $44.
This is the paradox of the developing world. In many cases, treatment exists and may be accessible – if you can afford the taxi or rickshaw ride, or if you can survive the multi-mile trek to a clinic. Payment must be given up front for treatment – if you don’t have it, no care. It’s that simple, and that devastating.
Thankfully, due to your donations to the Children’s Crisis Fund, children like Shohidul can return to life, and parents can find relief in knowing that our God has aligned his people to respond when there is a need. Few things are a greater witness to God’s grace than having a debt repaid by people you don’t know, or having care secured because of the faithfulness of sponsors. Shohidul’s mother experienced two miracles: the healing of her son, and the forgiveness of a crushing debt she could not repay.
Lord, you are a God who loved to heal, who loved to walk among your people and reach out to those overlooked and burdened by illness. Thank you for the systems you created that mimic the forgiveness on the cross – just as we received wholeness and healing because Jesus took on our burdens, we can extend that grace to others. May those on the receiving end glimpse your goodness and grace today.
After praying for so many diseases and illnesses, perhaps it’s time to be encouraged. When the world gets together to eradicate something, success is possible.
Smallpox was a disease that killed almost 30% of those infected and had been devastating the planet for centuries. In 1950, an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurred each year. Due to vaccination programs, that number dropped to 10-15 million by 1967.
Thus, the World Health Organization and several partners launched an intensive eradication plan, and the last natural case of smallpox occurred in Somalia in 1977. By 1980, the smallpox eradication was certified global.
Yet the attempts to eradicate polio have not found success as quickly.
In the early 20th century, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the industrialized world. In 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first vaccine against polio, and six years later, Dr. Albert Sabin developed an oral vaccine against polio, which became the vaccine of choice for most national immunization programs around the world.
During the 1970s, polio was effectively eradicated in developed countries, but was still a major health concern in poorer countries. where polio paralyzed more than 1,000 children every day. In 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was formed with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International.
In 1988, 125 countries were infected with polio. Since then, 2.5 billion children have been immunized thanks to the efforts of the GPEI, more than 200 countries, and 20 million volunteers.
Today, polio is considered endemic in only three countries – Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan – meaning transmission never stopped. We praise God that in March 2012, India was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries! This means India has gone one year without a reported case of polio. Surveillance and the vaccination effort continues, however, to ensure it stays that way.
How we can pray:
Several other countries, almost all in Africa, are experiencing outbreaks. Last year, over 111.1 million children in west and central Africa were vaccinated in an attempt to eliminate risks of re-infection. The drought in the Horn of Africa has contributed to the spread of outbreaks as conditions in refugee camps deteriorate. Let’s pray for the strength and endurance of health workers and clinics as they often must travel hundreds of miles to ensure all people groups receive the vaccine in addition to addressing their other health needs.
The total number of polio cases continues to drop in all areas except for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, and isolated outbreaks in countries that have stepped up vaccination efforts in response. We are so close to eradicating polio – the GPEI maintains their goal of ending all polio transmission by the end of this year. Let’s support them in prayer!
Although the news in India is reason for great praise, several thousand children still suffer the consequences of their past infections: paralysis, weak or withered limbs, and fatigue. These children and their families may not have the medical support to find modern or properly fitted braces. Let’s pray that just because the disease may be at the point of eradication, the support for its victims does not end.
Lord, we rejoice that fewer children are being struck down by polio. We are encouraged that eradication is possible and pray you show us ways we can support this effort. In the meantime, Lord, thank you for moving us to become involved in the lives of children with so little. May their limbs and hearts be strengthened by you today.
You’ve heard the whispers. Your friends stay away, fearful of catching it. Your dad died from it. Others say your mom has it, too.
You just want to go to school, but there is no money. Your dad’s funeral cost a lot, your mom says. And her meds come at a price, too. With no money for school fees, you stay home.
You know that the medicine is important. You want your mom to stay alive and say nothing. But you feel it in your bones: the loneliness, the rejection. Everything is different now.
HIV/AIDS is a disease that strikes down adults in their economic prime, throwing their entire family into deeper poverty.
HIV by the numbers:
- In 2010, 34 million people were living with HIV
- 3.4 million of them are children, almost 90% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa
- 9 out of 10 children living with HIV were infected through their mother either during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding
- Nearly 75% of HIV+ children who would benefit from antiretroviral treatment do not receive it, mostly due to expense and the cost of traveling to the nearest clinics for care
- More than 17 million children under 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS
Stats courtesy of WHO/UNAIDS/UNICEF (2011) Global HIV/AIDS Response: Epidemic update and health sector progress towards Universal Access 2011.
HIV/AIDS infections affect many of the countries One Child Matters serves. In Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, entire communities are slowly wiped off the map. In India and Kenya, HIV is ravaging the families of those in deep poverty whose main source of income is their own body in the sex trade.
How we can pray today:
For the special programs Mission of Mercy partners are putting in place to minister to children orphaned or vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS. In Swaziland they are called “I Am Not Forgotten Homes,” where children live with a loving host parent who can help ensure their needs are met.
Education is key to lowering the new infection rate. Starting at a young age, children in our southern Africa programs learn about health, hygiene, and the truth about HIV/AIDS to combat the cultural myths associated with it. Older children can participate in a True Love Waits program to encourage purity and self-control in a supportive setting.
Wherever possible, One Child Matters and Medical Mercy work to ensure HIV+ children can receive much-needed treatment. Thus we can pray that children can attend regularly so staff can check on them and make sure they are in the best health possible.
We can also pray for the safety and protection of children who may be fending for themselves after a parent falls ill or dies. In so many cases, the oldest sibling becomes the head of the house and does his or her best to keep a sense of normalcy. No child should have to take on this responsibility so young. One Child Matters programs can bring valuable support, mentorship, and care to those acting as caretakers for siblings, cousins, and neighbors. Our programs also offer the chance for children to be children, to play, learn, grow, and laugh no matter what is going on at home.
Lord, you looked out and saw the widows, the orphans, the sick and ostracized -- and you felt compassion. Thank you for finding homes and help for the children in need of support. Thank you for raising us up to do what we can from a distance. Lord, may you be their shepherd today. May they feel you lifting them up and carrying them in your arms.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10
There is a disease that is ravaging entire countries, killing off entire generations, and stealing futures from children all over the world. HIV/AIDS may be one of the few diseases we know about, given the awareness campaigns over the past decade.
We may even be aware of the frightening infection rates in countries One Child Matters serves. Today, one in four Swaziland residents have HIV, the highest HIV infection rate in the world. Zimbabwe ranks 5th with just over 14% of its population infected.
But in other regions, HIV/AIDS is a mystery, an illness few speak of, a specter haunting families and communities. In Swaziland, it’s simply called “an undisclosed sickness.”
Most adults are aware of the disease but don’t understand why it happens or how to treat it. One visiting nurse finally found an analogy that resonated with the mothers she was speaking with in Kenya: HIV is like a colony of termites attacking a tree. Once they are there, they are hard to stop and impossible to eradicate completely. Left unchecked, the termites will eat the tree until it is weak and crumbly.
Today we will pray specifically for the adults fighting this disease, because their health determines so much of their children’s lives as well. So how can we pray?
For availability of treatment. The drugs that effectively treat HIV/AIDS must be taken every day. It is difficult to maintain a steady supply of these antiretroviral drugs, but we can praise God that the access rate has steadily improved. In 2008, a little over 3 million people in low- and middle-income countries had access to necessary medicines. By the end of 2009, that number had jumped to 5.2 million.
As access to treatment improves, AIDS-related deaths have decreased. The number of people living with HIV/AIDS has grown, however, by more than 25% in the last 10 years. Education is important for treatment
but even more critical for prevention.
Other areas needing prayer:
- We can pray for health care workers who again make a huge impact in successful, continued treatment.
- We can pray for much-needed medicines to make it into the hands of those who need it.
- We can pray against the secondary infections like TB and pneumonia which often take the lives of those with HIV/AIDS because of their weakened immune system.
- We can pray against discrimination of those who have HIV, who are often ostracized.
- We can pray against the myths and misconceptions that keep people from getting the treatment they need or helping those who are in great need.
Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours. We lift up the adults who are fighting this illness. We lift up their need for treatment and those who are working so hard to ensure they have access to it. You are a creative God who can plant the seed in others to find new treatments, new education methods, and new answers to this difficult issue.
When we began talking about this prayer campaign, it was difficult to discern which diseases and illnesses should be covered in prayer. But when we saw this statistic, there was no question. This needs our prayers:
Pneumonia is the single largest killer of children around the world. Each year, almost 2 million children under the age of 5 die of pneumonia, meaning 20% of all under-five child deaths are due to this infection.
As with so many other health challenges, these devastating figures point to a lack of medical resources, the danger of ignorance, and the importance of preventative measures and education. So how can we pray?
Preventing children from developing pneumonia in the first place is essential. The best defenses are improved nutrition, reducing indoor air pollution from cook stoves and heat sources, and increasing immunizations that prevent children from developing infections that cause pneumonia. Other studies show improved hygiene techniques, especially hand washing, decrease rates of infection.
Educating parents and caregivers is crucial. One UNICEF study reported that less than 25% of caregivers know the two key symptoms of pneumonia (fast breathing and difficult breathing) which indicate that immediate treatment is needed.
Treatments must be available, but the lack of available health facilities and the expense of the treatment (in addition to missing work) means many parents do not or cannot find treatment for their children. Like tuberculosis, however, studies have shown that pneumonia treatment is far more successful when done in a community setting with trained health care workers to ensure medication is started promptly and correctly.
In contrast to tuberculosis with its complex treatments and highly infectious nature, pneumonia is one of the most solvable problems in global health. The treatment is effective, it just doesn’t reach far enough into the rural, impoverished areas we serve.
India had the highest number of child deaths from pneumonia in 2008. Ethiopia, Kenya, and Bangladesh also ranked in the top 12. We praise God, however, that Kenya and Ethiopia recently introduced new vaccines against the leading one of the leading causes of pneumonia, pneumococcal disease. This is a tremendous step, but India needs to follow suit.
Lord, we praise you for the steps being taken to fight this illness. We praise you for the people you are raising up and gifting with hearts for the children to ensure they have better health. And we praise you that pneumonia has simple treatments and can be eradicated. Lord, we need the discipline and perseverance to do so. The children are worthy of it. May you be glorified in the way we step forward to help others.
Let's continue praying for diseases and ailments that affect the most basic action in life: breathing.
We've prayed for respiratory infections and measles (which infects the lungs) and spreads through the air.
Today we'll pray against a disease with similar characteristics. It affects the lungs and other organs and spreads through the air.
It is also an incredibly common condition that is very difficult to treat: tuberculosis (TB).
Some quick facts about TB:
- The World Health Organization reports 13.7 million chronic active cases of TB; more than ¼ of them are in India
- Each year, 9.4 million new TB cases are diagnosed; 95% of all TB cases are in developing countries
- 1.8 million TB deaths each year, 98% of which occur in developing countries like the ones One Child Matters serves
More reasons to pray against TB:
The tools to diagnose, treat, and cure TB are outdated. The newest TB drug is more than 40 years old. The standard diagnostic technology is more than 115 years old. A more modern test (only 25 years old) can also detect drug resistance, but the technology is expensive and out of reach for most developing countries. Please pray this technology becomes more widely available; a coalition of organizations and donors are working to make this possible in the 25 most-TB-burdened countries.
TB is the leading cause of death for people infected with HIV/AIDS. Please pray for our children in Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, which has the highest rates of HIV infection among our countries.
Early detection is key for treating TB, but it can be difficult to diagnose because it presents like a flu (cough, headache, fatigue, fever, chills). A delayed treatment also increases the spread and possibility of drug resistance.
TB treatment also requires long courses (typically six months) of multiple antibiotics, which many people in the developing world find difficult to complete. This increases the spread of multidrug-resistant TB. Pray for clear instructions and trained HCW to check on patients. The drugs are inexpensive, but the treatment is complicated.
There were 500,000 multidrug-resistant TB cases in 2008, threatening the effectiveness of other treatment methods. The infection rate is increasing. Pray that the methods described below are in place so treatments are completed and new treatments are developed to address this issue.
Studies show that a community-based approach utilizing trained health care workers is most effective for treating TB properly. These HCWs can also check on neighbors and the rest of the community to ensure TB has not spread. We praise God for our Health Care Worker program and for our project staff who are the children’s first line of defense against these chronic conditions.
Lord, we are only able to pray because you have given us our very breath, yet it is stolen from these people. We need your help to create new forms of treatment and testing to eradicate this disease. Please guide the hands of researchers and doctors to find a simple, effective treatment. Help those who are suffering with TB to take their antibiotics regularly, and raise up people to help them. Thank you, Lord, for hearing this prayer.
Today we pray against measles, a highly contagious and serious diseased caused by a virus. Measles affects 20 million people each year, mostly in developing countries.
We are most familiar with measles because of the vaccines we’ve received in the U.S. In fact, the measles vaccination campaign has led to some astonishing results. The good news:
- Since 2001, more than 1 billion children living in high-risk countries received a measles vaccination.
- In 1980 before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year. In 2000, global measles deaths totaled more than 535,000. By 2010, that number decreased to 139,300!
- The World Health Organization, UNICEF, the American Red Cross, and other organizations continue to pursue an ambitious plan to reduce measles deaths by 95% by 2015, and eliminate measles and rubella in five regions of high risk.
We praise God for that progress, but we also know that measles is still a factor in many of the countries we serve. In fact, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children.
Around 47% of measles deaths occurred in India, while another 36% were in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. The Philippines also had a high rate of infection.
Measles outbreaks also occur after natural disasters. As hurricane and typhoon season has officially started, this is a major concern. Severe measles is more likely among undernourished children or those with weakened immune systems.
Lord, we praise you that so much progress has been made to eliminate a disease which has killed far too many people. Please continue to work among the nations and non-governmental organizations to ensure children are vaccinated. You know our children face so many challenges. Let us not stop until measles is no longer on the list of things for them to fear.
We’ve covered a lot of basic needs in prayer during this campaign, including clean water, proper sanitation, access to simple medication. But today we pray for the most basic of all: breathing.
Visit any slum, any multi-family dwelling packed with people, any crowded school room in any of our countries and you’ll hear it – a sharp hacking cough, a persistent rattle, a sound so deep and wracking that it makes you cringe.
Many factors contribute to chronic respiratory infections. In densely populated areas like the slums and the overcrowded homes in which our children live, bacteria and viruses travel. Fast.
Many families still cook over an open fire or may be fortunate enough to have access to charcoal or kerosene, but many keep their cooking fires so close to the house (if not inside it) that the smoke has nowhere to escape and saturates the dwelling.
And there’s dust kicked up by drought or over-farming, or choking smog from congested cities. One of the most common respiratory conditions found in our programs in slums like New Delhi, India; or Dhaka, Bangladesh; or Kathmandu, Nepal is asthma, which is easily compounded by the poor air quality.
Here are some ways we can pray for this issue:
- That children find the proper medication when needed, and that they take it correctly. We’ll pray in future days for illnesses like tuberculosis, but one factor that contributes to the chronic nature of this condition is stopping antibiotics too early or not getting the right medication at all.
- Clean cooking stoves: new technology has created a cooking stove that uses less fuel and creates less smoke. This issue is so widespread that many programs are springing up in several countries to help people purchase these special stoves in hopes that air quality will improve and less fuel would be consumed.
- Partnerships between aid groups, non-governmental organizations, and local governments are promising. Please pray the connections and trust grows so the stoves and other improvements can make into the homes and communities were they are most needed.
- Respiratory infections are a contributing factor to many deaths in the developing world. Areas where HIV/AIDS is rampant (Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe in particular) are especially at risk. Peoples’ immune systems are already weakened, so things as treatable as a respiratory infection can take lives.
Lord, you are the God who parts seas. Cut through the bureaucracy so much-needed improvements can make positive impacts on the lives and health of the families. Clear the air in the slums and in the homes so the children can breathe safely and deeply.
Going back to simple health conditions which need our prayers, today we will pray against skin conditions. It's hard for us to believe that something so minor can become a major threat to a child's health, but it's true.
Infections that are considered minor in the U.S. such as scabies, ringworm, or dermatitis can become dangerous for children with weakened immune systems.
And then there is the emotional burden, the visible reactions people give to a child with a chronic rash or oozing sores.
In most cases, a simple antibiotic or cream will clear things right up -- but as we've learned, that type of medical treatment is not readily available in the areas we serve. Ensuring that our projects can respond to even the most basic needs is an important part of this ministry. The Health Care Workers that Medical Mercy trains can identify and treat these infections before they take hold and create bigger health issues.
Lord, you spent so much of your ministry responding to people who were defined by skin conditions like leporosy. You never saw them for their outward appearance but who they could be when freed from their burdens. Thank you for seeing us the same way. May we extend the same grace to those we meet and those you have called us to minister to.
Other areas needing prayer:
- Skin conditions are present in every country Mission of Mercy serves.
- Many infections can move from the skin to eyes, which can threaten a child's eyesight. Pray for quick diagnosis and treatment to avoid this issue.
- As mentioned in the post about malaria, many developing countries have a high rates of fake or ineffective drug treatments made by counterfeiters. Please pray that families receive the right medicine at the proper dose when needed.
Today is International Child Day, the perfect day to pause and reflect on all that we’ve prayed for since May 15. Every topic we’ve addressed is an issue Mission of Mercy seeks to correct, counteract, or creatively resolve.
We could not do this without your help... and we would not do this without Jesus’ example.
When children are brought to Jesus in Matthew 19, the disciples get upset. They had enough on their plates, perhaps. Or they had other plans for their time. Either way, responding to the needs of the children was not their first priority.
In response to their attitudes, Jesus rebukes them. “Let the little children come to me,” he says, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (19:14)
Do not hinder them.
That’s what these diseases and deficiencies do – they hinder a child’s life and limit their future.
But sponsorship responds by following Jesus' directive. Your sponsorship removes hindrances and lifts burdens. It clears the way for children to discover Jesus and all He offers in this life and beyond.
We want to encourage you this morning that your prayers and your support are making a huge difference. It may be hard to tell at times. Your sponsored child may seem so distant, or you may feel guilty for not writing them more often. But your sponsorship is a presence in their lives, and your prayers a great encouragement.
Thank you for letting the little children come to Him, for ensuring there are as few hindrances as possible.
Lord, thank you for your heart for the children, that in your time on this earth you saw fit to welcome them and bless them. Thank you for moving in us to open our own arms to children in need. Today we lift up the children you have placed in our lives, both here and around the world. Please help us continue to identify the hindrances and how we can clear the way for these children to realize the potential you’ve given them.
We are more than halfway through the 32 days of prayer, can you believe it?
Today’s topic is not an easy one – in fact, few of these topics should be easy prayer requests. Far too often, the disease is preventable, the life-altering affects totally avoidable.
But today we are going to pray against intestinal worms, and they are just as terrible as they sound.
The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 billion people suffer from intestinal worms.
Intestinal worm eggs are usually ingested via food and water from contaminated soil. The eggs develop into adult worms that sap a child’s nutrients. Compounding the problem, the worm eggs re-contaminate the soil if proper toilets are not available.
Intestinal worms give children the bloated stomachs we often associate with impoverished areas. In addition to chronic stomach aches, a child may be sluggish and inattentive, putting their education at risk. And like malaria, untreated parasitic worms can lead to incontinence, anemia, and weakened immune systems.
How we can pray against this all-too common ailment:
- Children must have access to improved sanitation and water sources. Mission of Mercy makes this available at the project level, but it is more difficult to ensure the children receive what they need at home. Please pray for the community, government, and other outside organizations to band together to address these basic needs.
- Hygiene lessons that reinforce thorough hand washing and washing food before you eat it is important.
- One easy way to prevent infection is for children to wear shoes. One Child Matters often provides shoes as part of a child’s Christmas gift from the project for this very reason. Encouraging children to wear shoes when they may be uncomfortable or they want to keep them nice for school is another issue.
- In areas where intestinal worms are prevalent such as the Philippines, deworming takes place at least once a year if not more often. Studies show that treatments given at a child’s school or project are most effective. As more treatments become available, children are encouraged to bring siblings or friends to receive the medicine as well.
- Thankfully, the patents have expired on most of the medication used to treat intestinal worms, making treatment much more reasonable. Rather than take the expensive step of getting diagnosed, all children are treated as a preventative step. This is especially effective with school-aged children who are often in close proximity, leading to easy re-infection.
- Most deworming initiatives encourage community involvement for best results. Older children, caregivers, and parents need the best information to encourage healthy behaviors at home. Please pray the lessons about intestinal worms are understood and that treatments and preventative steps are followed.
Lord, once again we face a topic that makes our hearts hurt for these children. We give thanks that the treatment for worms is safe, simple, and much cheaper. Please continue to make these medicines available. And please, Lord, move in our hearts and the hearts of others to address the issue of sanitation to remove this threat from their lives forever.
Today we will start praying for specific diseases that may affect children in our projects. And today we will tackle a disease that kills an estimated 1.2 million people each year, hitting Africa and Southeast Asia especially hard but is present in 106 countries.
Malaria. A disease so preventable that it was once called “the genocide of apathy” by its UN Special Envoy, Ray Chambers.
Of the countries One Child Matters serves, Kenya and Ethiopia have the highest rates of infection with over 4 million cases each year. India and Mozambique have more than 1.5 million cases, and Zimbabwe registers around 650,000 infections each year.
Here are several ways we can pray for our children:
- That preventative measures like insecticide-treated bed nets continue to spread, protecting the most vulnerable (children and their mothers).
- That children with malaria are quickly identified (something our Health Care Workers are trained to do) and can be treated before long-lasting consequences such as anemia or dangerous fevers affect a child for life.
- A recently released study found that more than one-third of malaria medicines in Africa and southeast Asia are either fake or too weak to address infection, leading to drug-resistant parasites. Pray that countries can punish counterfeiters and find the faulty drugs to ensure better health. (This is one reason Medical Mercy often brings meds into the country rather than relying on in-country markets for their supplies; it is nearly impossible to quality check the medicines there).
- In response to the increased resistance, multiple preventative measures need to be available. Please pray for the right medicines, for insecticides and nets to become more widely available, especially in rural regions far from available medical treatment.
- The highest number of malaria deaths occur among children in Africa, but the highest levels of resistance are being found in Asia, especially along the Thai-Cambodian border among the breadwinners (most often men) who labor long hours outside. Community health care workers like those trained by Medical Mercy are one of the best first defenses to help identify and quickly treat the disease.
- Another study found that malaria and HIV infections interact, possibly accelerating the progression into AIDS. Many children in Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe already live in unstable situations due to the high rates of infection. Please pray for quick and thorough treatment for parents and children alike.
Lord, how your heart must break at the loss and suffering of so many little ones and their parents. Even though the problem feels huge, nothing is impossible for you. Help us see that small acts of faithfulness add up to life change.
Shacks with a hole in the ground. A simple bucket to be dumped. A plastic bag to be tied and thrown over the fence for someone else to deal with.
Today we pray for an unlikely subject, perhaps one you haven’t prayed for before: toilets.
In the developing world, sanitation methods come in all shapes and sizes. And yes, sometimes that means human waste flies through the air in a plastic bag.
If it wasn’t already obvious, how people deal with their waste directly affects their health.
In some areas, the latrines available at the One Child Matters project are the only toilets in the entire community. In others, several hundred people will share one or two latrines or pit toilets. And in others, there are no toilet facilities at all. (You can get a better idea of what is available here.)
No matter the sanitation method, hygiene is difficult yet so necessary. And often, once a child learns that where they go to the bathroom affects their drinking water and health, they take those lessons home.
Still there are many issues that affect the bathroom situations for our children.
Let’s pray over these today:
- That the children and their families can understand that how they dispose of waste can affect their health and the health of those around them
- That alternative sanitation methods will become available
- That support for those methods, including clearing out the latrine pits to keep them from overflowing, is also addressed
- That toilet facilities are kept far away from water sources
- That children and adults can understand how simple hygiene like hand washing can make all the difference
Lord, you see all of these issues. Nothing is too gross for you. Please help us understand that our faithfulness in small things can make big changes in the life of a child. May our prayers be worthy of their great need. Please continue to move others into place to meet this most basic need.
In our Latin American countries, most families rely on borehole wells and community taps. Perhaps your sponsored child has mentioned their water source.
Many children spend a large portion of their day hauling water from the community tap in buckets and containers for the family to use throughout the day.
Still, many communities One Child Matters serves have no drilled, secure water sources. Instead, streams and creeks that run through the slums or community are their only water source. (Click here to watch a moving video exploring the environment many Mission of Mercy children call home.)
And as we found in our Asian countries, those creeks are also the community’s toilet and trash dump. One of our program goals is to teach children how to dispose of trash and waste in ways that do not affect the water supply. In the meantime, we provide safe water sources and the means to address infections and illnesses associated with the poor water quality.
Lord, please help the children and families to see that what they cast off as trash may affect them later. Protect their water sources and their health, Father. If you can part a sea, you can purify streams from which our children drink.
Other areas needing prayer:
- For safety of children and adults alike who may travel long distances hauling water
- That they can keep their storage containers clean to ensure better health
- That other members of the community can respect the needs of others and protect the water sources
In Asia, Coleridge’s line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink” is most certainly true.
In Africa, it is the opposite: water is incredibly scarce, especially in recent years when an extended drought has taken its toll on several countries in eastern Africa.
Several programs in Kenya rely on rainwater collection for their water source, a method that’s only grown more difficult in the dry seasons.
Other communities rely on nearby rivers or streams, which also creates a scarcity issue.
In other countries, a deep borehole is drilled and a pump installed to create a more stable source of water. These are difficult to come by in many of the African communities we serve because they are so rural. It is difficult to get a truck out to drill a well, and then there is added cost to maintain the pump.
We work hard to ensure our programs have the water they need for the children. In areas where water quality is questionable, such as a muddy river source, we ensure the projects treat the water with a chlorine-based product. In times of great need, we will find sources of bottled water for the children.
Lord, you understand what it means to have so little and how many of the families in Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe rely on water sources that might not always come through. Thank you for providing in creative ways, and please help Mission of Mercy find new stable sources of water for these communities. We believe you to be the source of Living Water. Please flow through us to these people.
Other areas needing prayer:
- Continued and strengthened partnerships with organizations who exist to meet the water needs of impoverished communities
- The ability to provide clean water at the project level is one thing – please pray we can provide resources so families have access to filters at home, as well