The Bible is full of references to joy.
In Luke 2, Jesus’ birth was proclaimed as good news of great joy.
Before that, the prophets spoke of joy. My favorite is Isaiah 55:12 — “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Mother Teresa said, “A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.”
Joyful children have hearts that burn with love. Their pure pleasure in the smallest of things, that sudden burst of happiness, fills us with delight, too.
We asked children all over the world, “What is joy to you?”
Here is what they said. —Jon Warren
For 9-year-old Louisina, 13-year-old Sophie, and 11-year-old Jilienne, joy is being back at school. “We are so happy to see our school rebuilt,” one girl shares. On August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti caused widespread destruction affecting 800,000 people. World Vision responded immediately with life-saving food, clean water, and shelter, and helped support families through health, education, and child protection. Communities were equipped to repair infrastructure like the girls’ school. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Guy F. Vital-Herne)
Brothers Godwin, 8, and Kofi, 12, get airborne through a local game called bonke. “Joy is bonke after COVID. No more stay[ing] home,” says Kofi. Their mother, a local farmer, has also felt a lift — out of poverty, that is! She’s been empowered through VisionFund, the microfinance subsidiary of World Vision, which equips rural entrepreneurs with small loans that unlock the growth potential of their small businesses. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Abban Enoch Johnson)
“Joy is playing with the ball,” says Wilbur, who uses a wheelchair. He rolls the ball again and again, knocking down colorful pins while his mother observes in the background. On this day, Wilbur scores double — happily hitting plastic pins one by one and getting ready to go into the white tents where he’ll pick his World Vision sponsor through World Vision’s Chosen® program. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Abner Ely Castillo Castillo)
“My joy is playing soccer with my friends. … It’s my best part of the day,” shares 10-year-old Timothy. He and his friends are elated after Timothy scores a penalty kick during a lunchtime soccer match. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Clive Inyhensico)
For this family, joy is the animals that have transformed their lives. Ngwar Tar, 62, and his grandchildren, Ngwar Lay, 5, and Nwgar Sar, 3, enjoy laughing and caring for the goats they received from World Vision. “Every day, we wait for our grandfather to go to the goat farm, and then we accompany him,” says Ngwar Lay. “When we arrive, we cuddle and feed the goats. We really like playing with them. They are not afraid of us, and they also love us.” (©2022 World Vision/photo by Saw Moo Kale)
“Joy is learning how to write the number eight while singing songs to God,” says Dulce María, a 6-year-old sponsored child. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Catherine Turcios)
“Joy is standing in the shadow of mama — I know we are safe,” say 10-year-old Precious and 13-year-old Martha. Their mother, Madam Ama Cynthia, has benefited from a VisionFund loan through World Vision, allowing her to buy the taxi they stand next to. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Abban Enoch Johnson)
“Our animals bring me joy! The sound made by our goats makes me so happy because it means they’re there. We get our meat and milk from them, and when they’re not there (because of drought), we’re not happy. This one is a new one, 7 days old,” says 5-year-old Abdirahman. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Gwayi Patrick)
“Joy is reading together and making fun,” says 7-year-olds Patricia, left, and Lillian, right. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Fred Ouma)
“Joy is running through the cornfield,” says Elmer, a sponsored child. He loves running after school. In his area, many families have struggled with their crops due to both droughts and floods. Elmer’s family and others have benefited from World Vision’s food security programs, which have helped them have enough food to eat — and even have surplus to sell for profit. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Abner Ely Castillo Castillo)
“Joy is playing ampe on Saturday morning in the farm under the bright sky,” say sisters Theresa (left), 11, Charlotte (middle), 12, and Cynthia (right), 13. The girls love playing this local game. They have a chance to be kids as their mom is leaving poverty behind thanks to a farming loan from VisionFund, World Vision’s microfinance arm. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Abban Enoch Johnson)