One hundred and forty million babies are born each year. The world is home to around 2.3 billion under-18s, and this figure will stay broadly the same for the rest of the century. (Over the same period, the number of over 65s will grow from half a billion now to 2.5 billion in 2100.)
Improvements in children’s physical wellbeing have accelerated since the UN adopted its Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. Mortality for under-5s has more than halved, and primary education, clean water, vaccinations, nutrition and internet access are now available for around three-quarters of the world’s children.
However, further challenges for the world’s children and adolescents are even more daunting, most obviously child abuse and child mental health. Prosperity itself can be a risk, just as poverty is. As one ministry puts it, ‘Many children and young people today have everything to live with, but nothing to live for.’ Therefore, the mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being of children should be core to the ministry of the Church. Behaviours and beliefs are mainly formed during childhood and early adolescence, later affecting all of life and all of culture. And children and teens can be a force for missions.
Pray that the Church will rise to the challenge of discipling the world’s children as a central part of its ministry task.
Praise God for amazing progress in the well-being of children through the diligent work of health workers, teachers, engineers, campaigners and politicians.
Pray for the world’s schools. Pray that no child will miss out on their schooling.