For parents, understanding the anguish of having a sick child has bridged the gap between centuries. The Gospels share several stories of parents who asked Jesus to heal their children, including a royal official — a man who likely spent his days giving orders — who begged Jesus to heal his son (John 4:46-54). Luke 8:41-42 tells of Jairus, a synagogue leader, who “fell at Jesus’ feet” pleading on behalf of his dying daughter.
Today, we still live in a world where parents agonize over the health of their children — and millions each year watch helplessly as their children die, because the family lacks the most basic necessities: prenatal care, adequate food, clean water, vaccinations, medicine, and more. Every five seconds, a child younger than 5 dies. Most of these deaths are from preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.
We recognize this reality with World Health Day — celebrated annually on April 7 to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). Each year, the WHO mobilizes action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.
… I was sick and you looked after me. …—Matthew 25:36 (NIV)
Little Isaac came into this world with the odds stacked against him.
His mother died the day after he was born. He was so small people were afraid to touch him, let alone take him in as one of their own. And most of the people in his Ugandan village thought he would almost certainly die.
Thankfully, Josephine Oundo was not afraid. This 47-year-old mother was touched by the tiny, fragile infant and decided to bring him into her home. Her children wanted him too, especially her sons, David and Samuel, now 7 and 5. “‘Oh, mom,’ they said. ‘This is a gift from God. Let’s name him Gift,’” Josephine recalls.
Surrounded by love and acceptance, Isaac had a new chance at life. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Josephine had nothing to feed him but diluted cow’s milk. At 3 months, Isaac weighed only 6 pounds — about the same as a newborn. The local hospital tried blood transfusions to make him stronger, but they didn’t help.
Then a World Vision-trained community health team worker, Auma Hendricka, stepped in to assist. In Uganda, many community health team workers like Auma are supplied with mobile phones with an app to capture and track the vital statistics of children and their mothers as well as provide timely, important health information.
They are also equipped with bicycles for travel, rain gear, and even medicine to treat malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea — Uganda’s top three killers of infants and young children.
Auma had another tool at her disposal — a World Vision nutrition program called PD/Hearth that identifies local families who are successfully nourishing their children and trains those families to teach others. The program also weighs children, deworms them, and tests them for malaria. This intervention saved Isaac’s life.
Today, whenever he isn’t sitting in Josephine’s lap, Isaac runs and plays and smiles with his brothers. Join us in prayer for the health of all of the world’s children who struggle to stay healthy and thrive.
Pray for the health of all children and their mothers.
The health of children and their mothers can’t be separated. That’s why World Vision invests particularly in the critical — from conception through age 2 — when the right nutrition and health interventions can have life-altering implications on a child’s ability to grow physically and mentally.
Great Healer, we know that every child is precious to You. We thank You for the work being done to help so many children and mothers. Let aid distributions reach families who need it the most, and provide the resources to help even more little ones. Heal and strengthen their tiny bodies so they may one day experience fullness of life.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” —Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
Pray that expectant and birthing mothers will have the care they need.
Worldwide, a woman dies every two minutes from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In developing countries, a woman’s risk of dying from treatable or preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth is in developed countries.
Great Shepherd, You know how much babies need their mothers. Be with pregnant women everywhere as they prepare to give birth. Strengthen their bodies and protect them from life-threatening diseases. Give them a safe delivery and a healthy baby.
“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life…” —Isaiah 65:20 (NLT)
Pray for families to have access to adequate nutrition.
Malnutrition is a global problem, contributing to the deaths of about 1.5 million children a year. World Vision helps malnourished children reach a healthy weight. Staff members also train parents to prepare nutritious meals and cultivate kitchen gardens to diversify their food options.
Lord Jesus, Scripture tells us that You understand our physical needs. In the Gospels, You fed thousands because You knew they couldn’t get food on their own. Help hungry families access the food resources they need to survive. Move among community health workers to inspire parents to learn new, sustainable ways to improve their children’s diets. Reassure struggling parents that they can help their children grow strong.
“… You haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. …” —Acts 27:33-34 (NIV)
Pray for communities lacking access to clean water.
An estimated half of childhood malnutrition is associated with inadequate sanitation, insufficient hygiene, and repeated diarrhea or intestinal worm infections from unsafe drinking water. World Vision strives to reduce child disease and death by helping communities access clean water, improve sanitation, and practice basic hygiene.
Heavenly Father, children and their families cry out to You to ease their burden. As You blessed Isaac and his servants with the long-lasting well at Beersheba in Genesis 26:32-33, give communities access to clean water and healthy hygiene and sanitation practices.
“Come, all you who are thirsty. …” —Isaiah 55:1 (NIV)
Pray for community health workers.
In rural areas around the world, a family’s access to a trained community health worker can mean the difference between life and death. World Vision supports more than 220,000 community health workers and thousands of health-focused community groups — more than any other humanitarian organization.
Community health workers learn to care for the sick through World Vision’s Radio Distance Learning program. This learning tool is part of a mobile phone-based system that provides access to resources to help diagnose and treat patients or refer them to better-equipped health facilities out of town.
Lord, we lift up community health workers who work hard to meet the needs in their community. Give them deep purpose, sustained energy, wisdom, and sufficient resources to fulfill their daily duties. Empower leaders and healthcare workers to create reliable networks, policies, and infrastructure to better treat sick children. Raise up more people who will use their skills among families with little or no access to healthcare.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul … who heals all your diseases.” —Psalm 103:2-3 (ESV)
Pray for the end of malaria.
About half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. And every two minutes, a child younger than 5 dies from malaria. World Vision protects communities from malaria through distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets. Because of interventions like this, global malaria cases have fallen by 30 percent since 2000 — and are expected to continue to decline.
Holy Spirit, we see Your hand in the work to end malaria. Lift the spirits of all individuals who devote themselves to this effort, and help their work to achieve even greater results. Be with those who are ill from malaria, and help them to make a full recovery.
“LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” —Psalm 30:2 (NIV)
Pray for children who have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.
The number of children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS reached 17.7 million in 2013. These boys and girls often lack food and healthcare. They are also vulnerable to abuse and sometimes forced to quit school to care for their siblings. Ask God to bring caring adults into the lives of children who struggle without parents.
Dear Lord, James 1:27 says that taking care of orphans is pure and faultless religion in Your sight. We ask You to inspire Christians everywhere to take care of children who struggle to survive without parents. Our hearts break for precious children who have lost parents or have become separated from family. Be with them and bring people around them to show them Your love and goodness in spite of their grief and fear.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” —James 1:27 (NIV)
Pray for a continued reduction in child mortality rates.
The 5.9 million children younger than 5 who die every year is staggering, but it’s a number that is moving in the right direction. Fifty years ago, approximately 20 million children were dying every year. As communities within developing nations are equipped with essential resources and knowledge, families have access to the basics they need to remain healthy.
Dear Lord, we see so much progress, yet so much need. We rejoice in the millions of lives that have been saved through the work of organizations such as World Vision. Please continue to equip developing nations with the funding, personnel, and extra help they need to provide services that promote healthy families.
“…You restored me to health and let me live.” —Isaiah 38:16 (NIV)
Pray for a global will to end the suffering of children.
U.S. funding for child survival and other global health programs has helped save millions of lives and reduced the toll taken by several diseases over the past three decades. Many other countries also work to help ensure children in developing nations have a chance to grow up healthy.
Abba Father, You know every child by name, and You care about each one’s past, present, and future. We acknowledge that we can do nothing apart from You. Empower governments by Your Spirit to be sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable children. Guide the nations to continue to care about Your little ones by investing in the gift of health for all children.
“Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him. ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him.” —Mark 5:22-24 (NIV)
Contributors: Pat Curry and Chris Huber, World Vision staff.