Prayers

Matthew 25: Prayer for children with disabilities

Boniface Wambua says that when he learned of his son’s disabilities, “I felt like God hated me — that it was a curse.” Thanks to disability inclusion training he received from World Vision, he now sees his son as a gift from God.

World Vision believes every child deserves the chance to reach their God-given potential. More than 1 billion people around the world live with some form of disability — many of them children. Some have been affected by congenital diseases or malnutrition. Others have been disabled by war or conflict and other dangers such as infectious diseases. Join us in prayer for children with disabilities around the world.

In developing countries, children with disabilities are often unable to attend school, play outside, communicate, be included in the community, or get access to specialized resources and care. Negative stigma or superstition among their parents, neighbors, and community leaders cause or reinforce these barriers. Children in these situations can become isolated, lonely, and may have little hope for the future.

World Vision seeks to address these barriers by ensuring children have equal access to healthcare and educational opportunities, helping children have a voice in community affairs, and sensitizing their parents and community leaders to help eliminate stigma toward children with disabilities.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’—Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Boniface and Winfred knew their firstborn child had some physical disabilities. His stiffened limbs would neither straighten nor relax.

They gave him the English name, Dennis. His grandfather gave him the Kenyan name Ngumbau — warrior. Very apt since being born had been a battle.

Boniface and Winfred were away from their home in Mwala, Kenya, when Winfred went into labor. After eight hours, she gave birth to him in a bush. Then, they walked for two days to get to the nearest hospital, where they learned that Dennis had cerebral palsy.

Boniface says that when he heard about Dennis’ disabilities, his faith faded. He says. “I felt like God hated me — that it was a curse.”

Dennis spent the first five of his eight years mostly sitting on the rocky soil at his home, unable to move from place to place himself. But in 2011, World Vision started working in Mwala and registered Dennis for sponsorship.

He qualified for entry into the USAID-funded Accelerating Core Competencies for Effective Wheelchair Service and Support program, also known as ACCESS.

Dennis received a proper fitting for the wheelchair; then, his parents learned about how to clean and care for it. World Vision trainers also worked with families to help them understand the often-overlooked potential of children with disabilities.

Key to the success of the project was transforming the attitudes of people in the community. That change began at home for Dennis.

Boniface went from feeling cursed to seeing Dennis as a gift from God. Now, Boniface says. “For a parent with a special [needs] child, I would encourage them to take good care of their children and to love them because that is God’s plan,” he says. “[I would] encourage them to feel like they have a child who has all the potential. They could even be the light to the family.”

And when the little warrior smiles as he sits in his wheelchair, that smile is a light of love to the world.

Join us in prayer for children with disabilities around the world.

Pray for children with disabilities to be included.

Children with disabilities often face discrimination, bullying, neglect, abuse, and violence. But they have God-given gifts that are often overlooked. World Vision’s work in disability inclusion spans everything we do. We envision children living with disabilities afforded the same access to healthcare, education, government services, and overall dignity as every other child in their community. We treat them with dignity and respect in our day-to-day programming, advocate for their rights, and provide disability awareness training to parents, caregivers, and local leaders to eliminate stigma.

Lord, help children with disabilities know they are loved and they matter to You and the world. Through Your Spirit, help workers train parents and community leaders to walk in humility to eliminate destructive stigma toward people with disabilities. May children with disabilities be afforded improved access to basic services, healthcare, and education. 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” —Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

Pray for improved access to medical care.

Globally, as many as 500,000 children are visually impaired each year due to vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections.

Few people with disabilities in developing countries have access to rehabilitation. Medical treatment costs can be prohibitive or altogether inaccessible for people living in extreme poverty.

Stigma and shame among caregivers can also cause them to try and hide issues their children may be experiencing, often making their health situation worse. World Vision partners with specialized organizations like Operation Smile to provide dental, medical, and other healthcare support. Our trainers and staff listen to community members when they candidly raise concerns about families in their communities and respond as appropriate to look out for children’s well-being.

Lord, our hearts ache for children with disabilities who lack access to care or whose families who cannot afford therapy or treatment. Spur national officials and healthcare professionals to create policies and develop systems that provide quality, affordable, accessible care. Soften the hearts of parents and caregivers hardened by stigma and shame so their children can be adequately cared for. 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” —Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

Pray for access to quality education.

Children with disabilities make up about 15% of children who are out of school. Lack of access to learning opportunities presents a significant barrier to the well-being and future earning potential of a child with a disability.

World Vision works to build safer schools and latrines accessible to children with disabilities. We also collaborate with and empower community-based organizations to find local ways to help vulnerable children access a quality education. We encourage innovative solutions to improve education for children with disabilities.

Lord, in Your mercy, You have afforded some children with disabilities an opportunity to receive the remedial classes and other services through World Vision programs around the world. Change leaders’ hearts so they will seek ways to provide learning opportunities for children with disabilities whose families can’t afford school fees or do not have access to a school nearby. 

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.  —Proverbs 18:15 (RSV)

Pray for parents and caregivers as they care for children with disabilities.

More than 80% of people with disabilities in developing countries live below the poverty line, according to the European Commission. Parents, siblings, and sometimes friends or extended family members are the ones committed to caring for children with disabilities. World Vision provides training to parents and caregivers to transform attitudes toward children with disabilities. This helps them improve their relationships and learn how to nurture their children emotionally and spiritually and find ways for them to participate in society.   

Lord of all, we lift up parents and caregivers of children with disabilities. Refresh them. Give them strength to press on each day. For families living in poverty, lead them to economic opportunities to provide each member with the resources to survive and thrive.

God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.  —Ephesians 2:10 (GNT)

Pray for children with disabilities to experience God’s love.

Living with a disability in extreme poverty threatens to rob children and families of the full life Jesus promises us, as well as their hope for the future. God’s love restores hope and brings life to our bones. Our trainings, advocacy, and overall efforts to include children with disabilities in community life aim to make Jesus known and love people as He first loves us.

Lord, thank You for creating every child. Please equip World Vision staff, community leaders, families, and Your followers as they support children with disabilities, and encourage them. May they experience Your deep love every day. 

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19 (NIV)

 

Laura Reinhardt of World Vision’s U.S. staff contributed to this story.

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