17 reasons to have hope in 2017

Hope is infectious, even healing. But in a world that’s often dark, what is there to be hopeful for? Here are 17 reasons to have hope right now in 2017 — and how to pray.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” —Jeremiah 29:11

1. Extreme poverty is giving up ground.

In the last 20 years, the number of children dying around the world from things they shouldn’t — from hunger and poverty and disease — has dropped from more than 30,000 a day to just over 16,000. And the number of people living in extreme poverty, those living on less than $1.90 a day, dropped by more than 1 billion. Now the world’s nations have set an ambitious goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

Merciful Provider, we thank You for all You have done to make fullness of life possible for people in need around the world.

2. We are 99 percent of the way to eradicating polio globally.

Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated because it cannot survive for long periods outside of the human body. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 20 million people are living with polio paralysis.

At its peak in the early 1900s, polio struck tens of thousands of Americans. But right now, this crippling and potentially fatal disease is at the lowest numbers and in the fewest places ever. With vigilance, the world could be polio-free by 2018.

Great Healer, we pray for people, families, and communities affected by polio — especially in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, where polio still persists. Bless the work of doctors and organizations who are working hard to eradicate this disease.

3. The end of the HIV and AIDS pandemic is in sight.

AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 percent since the peak in 2005 when 2 million people died from AIDS-related causes. Countries around the world are focusing on the 90-90-90 targets of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS. Their goal is that by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV will be diagnosed, on treatment, and virally suppressed.

Almighty Deliverer, You are our strong refuge. Reach out with your unconditional love to be a refuge and source of hope for HIV-positive men, women, and children around the world.

4. We can solve the global water and sanitation crisis within our lifetimes.

Nearly 1,000 children under 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene. So the sixth of 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations includes achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

World Vision is the largest nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world, reaching one new person with clean water every 10 seconds. We are increasing our impact and scope to reach everyone, everywhere we work by 2030.

Faithful God, help World Vision to bring clean water to those who desperately need it, and work in hearts to reveal the living water we can receive from You.

5. Ruth no longer fears snakes when she gets water.

Ruth now has time to go back to school and work toward her dream of becoming a nurse.

(©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

For years, 11-year-old Ruth trekked six times a day down a hill to fetch water from a dirty pond. Poisonous snakes, like the one that bit her sister and nearly took her life, were a constant danger. The family kept sticks along the path to ward them off.

In July, when World Vision water engineers drilled a borehole near Ruth’s home, Ruth began to fetch clean water safely and quickly. She now has time to go back to school and work toward her dream of becoming a nurse.

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for the water engineers who work tirelessly around the world to bring girls like Ruth clean water and a new lease on life.

6. World Vision has partnered with the U.N. and UNICEF to launch the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

Together, we will support the efforts of those seeking to prevent violence, protect childhood, and help make societies safe for children. By 2030, we hope to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence and torture against children.

Loving God, reach out Your helping, healing, and loving hands to keep children safe from harm. Bless this work to protect Your children.

7. Men in India are taking a stand against a harmful tradition — child marriage — that has tarnished the worth of girls for centuries.

Men Care Groups in Agra, India, educate and equip men on the inherent value of women and girls

Mangay Lal, a member of the Men Care Group in Agra, India, treats his 11-year-old daughter, Marhima, to an ice cream cone. “We have been made to believe by society that a girl is someone else’s property and will marry, so why should we invest in educating her?” Mangay Lal says. “World Vision came, they saw the darkness we were living in, they asked us to come to the light. And that light is, with help of our understanding, creating a healthy environment where we care for our families and community and where our children — especially girls — can study to rise above and empower others.” (©2014 World Vision/photo by Annila Harris)

Instead of conforming to society’s skewed understanding of a girl’s worth — merely as a profit-and-loss venture — Men Care Groups in Agra, India, educate and equip men on the inherent value of women and girls. Members of this World Vision program also support one another in leading their families with empathy and encouragement, convincing other community members not to marry off their teenage daughters.

Wonderful Counselor, show Your compassion to the multitudes of girls and women who endure the damaging physical and relational effects of child marriage. Reveal alternatives to parents or change the hearts of those who consider giving up their daughters for social status or financial gain.

8. We are working toward a more open, inclusive, and fair world for people with disabilities by 2030.

Individuals with disabilities can face a lot of barriers — in their living environment, in the form of outdated laws and policies, and in the attitudes and prejudices of people in their community. But now five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations will address needs in sectors such as education, economic growth, employment, governance, and infrastructure. World Vision operates disability-specific programming as well as disability-inclusive programming around the world.

Infinite Comforter, equip community leaders, families, and Your followers as they support children with disabilities. May we continue to focus on meeting the needs of people who are vulnerable due to physical and mental limitations.

9. Rosemary doesn’t know the hunger and hardship her family did.

Rosemary doesn’t know the hunger and hardship her family did. She has hope and dreams of being a chef.

(©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

This 9-year-old from Moyo, Zambia, knows only the prosperity. She knows about plenty. She knows about learning. She knows about sharing. And she knows she’s free to follow her dream of being a chef. Five World Vision Gift Catalog goats, her family’s hard work, and child sponsorship helped to lift her and her family out of poverty.

Gracious Lord, we sing Your praise, giving thanks for Your blessings in the lives of people around the world like Rosemary and her family. May we carry Your hope within us.

10. Innovative technology is transforming remote communities around the world.

Mobile technology and other innovations allow humanitarian organizations to work better and smarter, improving efficiencies so more resources can help people in poverty and communities in crisis. The Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation and Global Humanitarian Data Center were also launched at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

Alpha and Omega, we express our gratitude for new knowledge and technology. May we continue to learn more to further help Your children.

11. Restored relationships are possible — even in the worst of situations.

World Vision developed a reconciliation model after the Rwanda genocide that endures today.

(©2013 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies.

After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. Yet after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men are as close as brothers again.

Merciful Redeemer, we thank You that Andrew and Callixte are no longer prisoners of their pain. Each new day reminds us of Your grace and the hope found in You.

12. Since the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011, World Vision has helped millions of people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

“This is what gives me hope — seeing people from all over the world caring enough to help,” says Eyad, a mechanical engineer turned aid worker in Syria. “There is still goodness in this world.”

Good Shepherd, come to the aid of families who have fled to safety. Guide them to places where they can find help and rest.

13. Haiti is beginning to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew pounded Haiti on Oct. 4 with torrential rain, massive storm surge, and winds up to 145 mph. More than 2 million people have been affected, including nearly 900,000 children. World Vision is delivering relief supplies and assistance.

World Vision’s goal isn’t only to be the “first in” when responding to the most urgent humanitarian crises, but also be the last out — seeing families and communities through hardship to restoration.

Jesus, we thank You for offering hope to those suffering from disaster — the refugee, the earthquake survivor, the family facing famine.

14. Jennifer Nyirmbe is back in church.

Sovereign Lord, thank You for healing Jennifer and more than 50 other women of fistula in Uganda.

(©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

After her baby died last year during a home birth that resulted in complications from obstetric fistula, 21-year-old Jennifer would only pray outside church. She felt she couldn’t step inside for fear of losing control of her bladder. In September, World Vision Uganda brought surgeons specializing in fistula to Jennifer’s community. Her surgery was successful. The Sunday afterward, Jennifer was back at church — this time inside.

Sovereign Lord, thank You for healing Jennifer and more than 50 other women of fistula in Uganda.

15. The standard for a basic education has changed from simply attending school to ensuring students can read, write, and do basic math.

World Vision’s programs prioritize equitable access for all and measurable learning outcomes, so we can ensure children have the education they deserve — and a solid start to reaching their God-given potential. And with one in four children living in a country grappling with humanitarian crises, we are providing education along the continuum from disaster relief to development.

Righteous King, You created every one of Your children with great potential. May we empower every child to achieve a bright future.

16. Moms around the world are tapping into their vast potential.

With help from World Vision, moms around the world are raising, harvesting, and preparing food to make their children healthy and their communities more prosperous.

(©2015 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

With help from World Vision, moms around the world are raising, harvesting, and preparing food to make their children healthy and their communities more prosperous. We’re equipping them with the economic tools and training they need to build a brighter financial future.

Wise Father, thank You for inspiring people to invest in the futures of moms.

17. As one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world, World Vision has the infrastructure, experience, and relationships needed to bring about lasting change.

Our 46,000 staff worldwide — 95 percent of them working in their home regions — apply 65 years of field work to transforming lives. We work in more than 1,600 program areas in nearly 100 countries, including the U.S. Our integrated model addresses the many causes of poverty, and our tailored approach is community-based and community-owned.

Savior, You have prepared this good work for us to do. Thank You for the people who share their resources so we can help empower the poor. Show them what amazing things their gifts are doing in the lives of children in need around the world. Bless them as they bless the poor.

You + World Vision’s local staff = help, hope, and love to people in nearly 100 countries.

These writers’ work contributed to this piece: Kari Costanza, Annila Harris, Denise Koenig, and Laura Reinhardt.

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