Harrowing statistics that reveal there are 115 million children being exploited in hazardous working conditions around the world, and a staggering 275 million witness domestic violence every year, have impelled children's charity Viva to hold a weekend of prayer dedicated to vulnerable children.
On 7-8 June 2014, hundreds of thousands of Christians from all over the globe will hold church services, prayer marches and other special events to mark the World Weekend of Prayer campaign, which has been held annually since 1996 and will this year focus on child-friendly communities.
"We're encouraging Christians wherever they are that weekend – whether in homes, churches, Sunday schools or youth groups – to join us in turning to God together in prayer for a change of attitude by communities towards their children," says Viva's Andrew Dubock.
Churches are being asked to consider how they might make their communities better suited to young people, and will pray for the protection of marginalised children and for wisdom in leadership and policy-making.
"We know that God answers prayer, and feel privileged to join with brothers and sisters around the world," says David Morgan of Mumbles Baptist Church in South Wales, which will be partnering with other churches to join the campaign in June. He says it's not just about praying for children in other countries, but here in the UK too.
"We have children here in Mumbles in great need and every church in the UK has such children too. We need to cry out to the Lord and seek his will for us."
This year's campaign follows last year's success, when the weekend saw over 141,000 Christians united in prayer, engaging creatively with one another and their communities through a variety of events and gatherings.
Christians in India organised prayer walks, Bolivian Christians took to the streets to pray for their police force, and believers in South Africa chose to share their prayers by tying them to gates.
A Methodist church leader in Hyderabad, India says the weekend encouraged people "to remember struggling families during their daily prayers", and that it "touched people's hearts".
"I have been living with my grandmother since my parents' divorce, and the prayers for broken families helped to bring love and compassion to children like me," added 14-year-old Rehema from Tanzania.
"Today I realised that the Church is a carer of everybody – of a child, orphan and those living at risk."
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