Of all of the areas in need around the world, the plight of exploited children is one of the most needy. Millions of children around the world suffer from neglect, abuse and exploitation. Currently 100 million children are homeless, one million young girls enter prostitution each year, 1.2 million children have HIV.
In crisis and refugee situations, the needs of exploited children are particularly poignant. In a war, the social structures of families is broken down and it is the children who generally suffer the most. Refugee children are often needed to take on added responsibilities in the family and often become the breadwinners or care for younger children. Living conditions in refugee camps can cause long-term physical, mental and emotional problems in children. Lack of food and basic hygiene causes high mortality rates among children.
Exploited Kids in War
The United Nations has estimated that there are approximately 300,000 children under the age of 18 years who are actively engaged in military conflict around the world. Some are volunteers but most are forcefully recruited or kidnapped. Armed troops use children as messengers and spies or for manual labour such as cooks, cleaners, and porters. In countries, like Somalia or Afghanistan, children are often used in armed conflict. The protection of children in war torn regions has become a high priority of the UN and aid agencies in recent years and it is now considered a war crime to enlist children in military conflict under the age of 15 years.
Of all the children in the Muslim world, the most vulnerable are those who are orphaned or separated from their families. In a war, children are often sent away to avoid conscription into the army or are sent to another country for safety. When children flee on their own separated or sent away from their families, they are exposed to high levels of risk of exploitation and assault. Orphans, or separated children, are often detained in refugee camps for prolonged periods of time while officials try to trace their parents or confirm their orphan status.
During the Iran / Iraq War boys were sent out in front of the troops dressed in white robes to explode land mines. The children knew they were going to their deaths and were told that they would go straight to Paradise. In Africa, 9 out of 10 refugees are women and children. The strict separation of men and women from the age of puberty means that children are further isolated from hearing the Good News, particularly girls.
God’s heart is that children may know the Father and have the opportunity to fulfill His purposes for their lives. If we are to see the Muslim world reached for Christ we must see this generation reached with the Gospel.
Education and vocational training are crucial for children and young adults. However, poverty and war will rob children of the most basic education. Currently there is an estimated 140 million children unable to attend school. Education not only provides children with the skills to lead a productive life but also aids in protecting them against exploitation or forced military recruitment.
In Matthew 18:10, Jesus directly commands us not to look away from the children. More than half of the Muslim world is under the age of 15 years of age. To date there is very little work being done in specifically reaching Muslim children. If we are to reach the Muslim world with the Gospel then reaching Muslim children must become a priority for the Body of Christ.
Reaching children must become a priority for any Christian work in Muslim nations. Approximately half of the Muslims of the world are under the age of 15 years.
A child will learn proportionately more in the first 5 years than he will during the remainder of his life. The way he approaches life, people, God, his values, habits and character are largely formed in these early years. By the time he is 12 his personality is established. Most children will make life-shaping faith decisions before they reach their late teens. How then can we possibly hope to reach the Muslim world without focusing our attention and energy into reaching Muslim children.
Pray for Exploited Children
* Pray for Muslim children. Their needs are the same as your own (Philippians 4:19).
* Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit among Muslim children, particularly those in restricted access nations (Matthew 19:14).
* Pray for young Muslim boys and girls who are currently denied access to education. Ask God to provide opportunities for them to go to school.
* Pray for orphaned children to know the Father.
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