Hope is infectious, even healing. But in a world that’s often dark, what is there to be hopeful for? Here are 18 reasons to have hope right now in 2018 — 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 under 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, and we are joinging them in this important work.
Merciful Provider, we thank You for all You have done to make fullness of life possible for people in need around the world. Support us in our critical endeavor of freeing children from the effects of extreme poverty.
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. In 2017, there were only 16 cases in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. With vigilance, the world could be polio-free by the end of 2018. If that happens, polio will join smallpox as the only other human disease to become extinct.
Great Healer, we pray for people, families, and communities affected by polio — especially in Afghanistan 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.
By the time the world realized the extent of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa in the late 1990s, nearly an entire generation had succumbed to the disease in some nations. In Malawi, orphaned children were living alone or with overburdened caregivers. Lucia, then 9, and her brother were abandoned by their mother after their father died, likely of AIDS. A kind neighbor, a farmer named Vincent, took the children in. (©2001 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Today, HIV testing and anti-retroviral treatment — bolstered by a lack of stigma — allow adults to live normally with HIV while communities in sub-Saharan Africa continue to confront the pandemic head-on. AIDS messaging is everywhere, including on the wall of this school in Zambia. Here, clean water is more of a concern to these students than HIV — they know full well how the virus is transmitted. AIDS interventions in Zambia and across sub-Saharan Africa are an integral part of World Vision’s health programming. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 48 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. The U.N. is working toward the goal of 90 percent of people living with HIV will be diagnosed, on treatment, and virally suppressed by 2020.
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.
About 835 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. Cheru will soon walk minutes instead of miles for water that will no longer make her sick.
Last spring, we walked the Global 6K for Water with 5-year-old Cheru Lotuliapus, whose daily life in Kenya was consumed with finding water. The effects of this life meant Cheru and so many other girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa were not able to live up to their potential.
Today, World Vision is working in West Pokot County to bring access to clean water to Cheru’s community. So this spring, a standpipe will bring fresh water to Cheru and her family, just steps from where her mother cooks, washes clothes, and prepares tea.
Loving Father, we ask for Your blessings on children, mothers, fathers, and communities who are thirsty. Purify, protect, and multiply their water sources. Strengthen their resolve so they may fully enjoy the benefits of clean water — essentials like education, gardens of fresh produce, and good health. We give thanks for water engineers who work tirelessly around the world to bring girls like Cheru 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.
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 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.
This 9-year-old from Moyo, Zambia knows only the prosperity. She knows about plenty. She knows about learning. She knows about sharing. And Rosemary 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.
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. World Vision is expanding its efforts to apply new methods and technologies for development work. Over the past five years, World Vision has launched 22 pilot projects in more than a dozen countries. These pilot projects provide a way to take innovative solutions developed at a grassroots level and test them for potential scale-up into vital programs like Last Mile Mobile Solutions — developed by World Vision and now being used by a dozen other organizations — which is revolutionizing how disaster survivors receive food, cash assistance, and relief supplies in their time of greatest need.
Alpha and Omega, we express our gratitude for new knowledge and technology. May we continue to learn more to further help Your children.
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.
Internationally recognized as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis will enter its eighth year in March. Yet amidst the conflict and hardship, governments are allocating funds to meet this humanitarian emergency, churches are raising a cry of prayer and support for people in desperate circumstances, and people worldwide are finding a way to engage meaningfully for the sake of Syrian children and their families.
“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, You see Syrians’ needs with a tender heart. Awaken us to the needs of Syrian children and their mothers and fathers. Let us not grow weary in doing what is right and good in Your eyes. Remind us to engage on their behalf as we would if it were our own families who were suffering.
The 2017 hurricane season in the Caribbean and Atlantic regions was one of historic proportions, bringing some of the strongest and wettest storms on record in hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. World Vision responded to all three disasters, sending dozens of semi truckloads of relief and rebuilding supplies to communities in the Houston area; Immokalee, Florida; and various sites in Puerto Rico to help some of the worst-affected storm survivors.
As of Dec. 8, World Vision and local partners have helped more than 181,000 people with food, water, hygiene kits, flood clean-up kits, tents, tarps, cash assistance, and other household necessities. 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. Thanks to a generous church partner, World Vision also opened a warehouse in Houston to provide supplies to sustain recovery efforts for the foreseeable future.
Jesus, we thank You for offering hope to those suffering from disaster — the hurricane survivor, the refugee, the family facing famine.
14. Jennifer Nyirmbe is back in church.
After her baby died during a home birth that resulted in complications from obstetric fistula, 21-year-old Jennifer would only pray outside her church in Uganda. She felt she couldn’t step inside for fear of losing control of her bladder. World Vision 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. Children like Constance are experiencing God’s love.
World Vision is empowering local churches, schools, and parents to create engaging, faith-filled environments that help children and youth like 11-year-old Constance from Kenya explore their faith and experience Jesus’ love.
“It felt so nice when the preacher said that we had been forgiven our sins,” says Constance. The sermon she heard that day made her realize she wanted to commit her life to serving Christ. She’s an active member of her Bible club, and now after participating in leadership training from World Vision, she talks to her peers about God and their faith journeys. She has grown in her own faith, as well as in her self-esteem.
Jesus, Your love changes hearts. As children learn to follow You more closely, may they find their value in Your grace. Help them love people around them in ways that point them to You.
16. 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 1 in 4 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.
17. 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. 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.
18. 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 42,000 staff worldwide — 95 percent of them working in their home regions — apply 67 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.
These writers’ work contributed to this piece: Kari Costanza, Annila Harris, Chris Huber, Denise Koenig, Kathryn Reid, and Laura Reinhardt.