Hope... Even in the Hardest Places

I'm in awe-struck wonder during the Christmas season, when I see the twinkling lights on my tree and imagine a bright star above Bethlehem; and reflect on the hope that those lights represent. Emmanuel... God with us... a radiant light to a world cloaked in darkness. He came down, to a lowly manger, interceded like only a loving Savior could. He brought hope for everyone of us that night, for every child.

But there are still children today, living in dire places, needing to hear this hope, needing His light to illuminate their lives.

Video featuring Valerie Bell

What if you fed a child...and ignored his soul?

What if you dug a well...but never offered Living Water?

50 million children around the world today are surviving the worst refugee crisis in history.

They are displaced and uprooted. They are children. They did not choose where to be born. They did not start a war.

Imagine nine-year-old Alvaro, whose name means truth speaker and guardian. With his mother and three younger siblings, “home” is a temporary shelter in a refugee camp. Over 10,000 others live there, too.

Children and their mothers are the most vulnerable...

Alvaro’s youngest sister died of cholera, a preventable but deadly disease that thrives where clean water and sanitation are scarce. Alvaro himself has suffered from malaria. Diseases of all kinds flourish in this environment....but children do not.

For Alvaro and his siblings, this is the past, present, and future. Their entire childhoods will be spent here, and likely the beginning of their adult lives as well.

Alvaro, as the eldest child, bears both a physical and emotional burden, encouraging the family to keep going, scavenging for food, or any scrap of garbage to be repurposed and sold. Some of the children Alvaro scavenges with have spent their entire lives here. Others recently lived a “normal” childhood with home, school, family, and play—until disaster and violence changed everything.

What if you educated her...but never told her about Jesus?

Childhood is fraught with silent risks, quietly eating away at boys and girls seeking to thrive.

Even children who appear to live in safety and security are vulnerable.

Eleven-year-old Sophia has a home and a family. She spends her days at school with friends. There is enough money to pay the bills, and more. Yet Sophia suffers from depression and hopelessness.

Before turning 18, Sophia will witness 200,000 violent incidents on television, including 16,000 murders.

Sexual images and messages inundate her daily, undermining her sense of self. Along with the majority of boys and girls, she was first exposed to pornography before the age of 12.

With the increasingly frenetic pace of modern life, Sophia spends less and less time at home with family. She feels alone, unsure how to forge her own identity, how to navigate the devastation she sees on the news, and the competivitve teenage world of substance

abuse, sexual pressure, and cyberbullying.

Abundance has not provided Sophia with peace. Mental health and social issues like drug abuse, depression, isolation, lack of focus and creativity, and an inability to feel empathy are common among her peers. Even children like Sophia who appear to have it all suffer in body, mind, and spirit. In the extremes of poverty and abundance, all children need the healing hope of Jesus.

What if you taught him to read...but never gave him a Bible?

Around the world today, children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty.

One billion children currently lack at least one life essential: clean water, food, shelter, access to healthcare.

Imagine a child like thirteen-year-old Musa. Orphaned, Musa lives with his aunt when he is not on the streets; his parents died from AIDS. Musa is one of over a million slum dwellers crowded into less than one square mile.

Musa has never had electricity, medical care, or adequate water and food.

Each day this young man fights to meet the basic needs of survival, but the odds are stacked against him. His best chance is to join a street gang, but that comes with its own dangers.

By this age, most children have been exposed—and addicted—to the deadly but cheap drugs that are more available on the streets than food. The chances are high that Musa will suffer sexual abuse and exploitation, be coerced into child labor, or trafficked as a soldier, slave, or sex worker.

Many of Musa’s friends have disappeared over the years. Some were sold as domestic workers, others are imprisoned in sweatshops and factories with little or no pay, choice, or escape.

One billion children like Musa are vulnerable today to the dangers of extreme poverty, struggling through the many layers of risk consuming our precious children.

They live unseen. Their stories are unknown.

What if you gave the hope of Jesus to these children today?

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