Prayer for Children Living in Poverty / photo courtesy of compassion.com

Prayer for Children Living in Poverty

More than a billion people on our planet live in poverty, on less than $1.25 per day. Only half of them have electricity in their homes.

About one-third of these impoverished people are children, age 12 or younger. *

About 3/5 of those poverty stricken people live in these five countries:

About the photo above: A mother in Ecuador prepares to feed her eight-year-old daughter. Image courtesy of the Compassion International Multimedia Gallery.
  • Nigeria
  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • India
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo

There are many other countries where severely impoverished families live – mainly in Africa, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Central America, or South America.

Who can help children living in poverty?

We who live in more prosperous countries have been given much and so we are able to give much.

Orphaned African child living in poverty.

Why I want to help

Not long ago I saw a documentary film, streaming on Netflix, that changed my life. The movie, Living on One Dollar, is about two college students majoring in economics, their two film-maker friends, and the indigenous people of one small Guatemalan village.

The four young men traveled from the USA to Guatemala to live in poverty like the natives there, so they could understand how poverty affects the lives of families.

This movie touched my heart, and for weeks after seeing it I continually thought about the struggling families, wondering what I could do to help. I am not a particularly prosperous person by American standards. I’ve always lived below the poverty level, throughout my adult life, and currently cannot even afford to own a car. I felt limited on what I could do, and didn’t know where to go to be able to help.

Then I remembered that a church nearby posts photos of children living in another country – children they sponsored through a philanthropist organization.

I did a web search for similar organizations and found Compassion International – a Christian child sponsorship charity with a good reputation. There are other similar organizations – including some that are secular.

I searched through the Compassion website, looking at photos of children. First I looked for children who shared my birthday. Then I clicked on the link for children who have been waiting the longest for a sponsor.

That’s where I saw her. One beautiful young girl living in the Southern Mexico state of Chiapas, close to the Guatemalan border. Most of the people in her town are descended from the Mayans and she definitely looks like she’s one of them.

She lives with both parents – as most of these children do. The mother stays home with her children, and the father works sporadically on some kind of farm. The site told me that the average wages in their town pay only $41 per month. That’s far less than $1.25 per day, for a family of four. If that father were able to work steadily and bring in $41 for the entire month, it would be less than 35 cents per day per person.

After some internal wrangling, and a certainty that Jesus was speaking to my heart about this child, I finally clicked on the right links and paid out my first monthly donation of $38 to sponsor this child.

I’ve been thrilled about it ever since. I wrote the girl my first sponsor letter using the online letter-writing feature of the site, and now am waiting for my sponsor package.

The Compassion.com website is vast and full of articles telling everything we need to know about children living in poverty, and what we can do to help them.

When should we help?

The children need our help today, and I hope anyone who has a desire to help poverty stricken children will consider doing this. I caution people who think their income will give out, to think twice about committing to a child.

With good circumstances a sponsorship could last many years – until the child is 18, or leaves the child center that’s being sponsored. It would be sad for the child to be notified of having a sponsor, then to have that sponsor have to quit. These children value their sponsors and treasure the letters they receive from them.

If you have a steady income and feel called to help, please consider it. If your income isn’t reliable, consider donation to some of the other funds that Compassion.com has set up. They help children in special need circumstances, and young mothers with infants. They also provide disaster relief.

How can we help these children?

For me, $100 is a small amount of money. I could go to the grocery store and spend that without batting an eyelash. But for a family earning only $41 per month, a gift of $100 is huge. I hope that as I sponsor this child, I’ll be able to give money gifts to the child and her parents.

The monthly sponsorship fee goes mainly to the children’s center the child attends, which is church-affiliated. They will receive 80% of the $38, and the rest will go to maintain the charity organization and pay their employees.

Over and above that fee sponsors are allowed to send up to $100 to the child and/or up to $1000 to the family per year. I am sure most sponsors don’t do that. My friend who has been sponsoring an Indonesian child for two years sends $20 extra annually, for his birthday.

These extra gift monies are not given directly to the family. Instead, child center staff will help the family decide what the money should be spent on.

I recently read a review of Compassion International that mentioned that a child was grateful for his family’s gift because for the first time in his life he had a bed, a blanket, and a roof that didn’t leak.

I don’t know if the girl I sponsored has a floor in her house. The site says that most people in her town have dirt floors. I would be so happy if someday I heard that my money was able to help them pour concrete for a better floor in their home, or something important and tangible like that.

Where should we go to help?

There are many organizations that strive to help children who live in poverty in foreign countries. They need our participation and support to make it happen. The website for that documentary movie I watched suggests a secular site that lists Mayan children exclusively.

I chose Compassion International because I’m a Christian. It is a Christian charity that includes Bible studies and prayer for the children at the church-affiliated child centers they attend. The children also receive food, tutoring, help with education issues, health education, and many other services. They are taken on field trips and have plenty of opportunity for creative activities and fun. These child centers are a safe haven in towns where untended children could be victimized. Compassion International has a good rating on sites that compare charities.

A prayer for children living in poverty

Heavenly Father, Lord of all, have mercy on all of us, and raise up the impoverished children of this world to love you and to achieve wonderful things to help make this world a better place to live, for everyone.

Provide them with everything they need for a happy life. Strengthen them, and give them love-filled families, safe and comfortable shelter, adequate health care, and excellent nutrition.

Dear Lord, please keep these children safe from dangers of all kinds. Let them live in a place where they are treated respectfully and loved unconditionally.

Help them learn to love because they are surrounded by love every day. Raise their self-esteem and let them know they are capable of succeeding in life in wonderful ways.

May the impoverished, struggling parents of this world be comforted and strengthened by your Holy Spirit’s guidance in their lives. Inspire them to find creative, innovative, effective ways to house, feed and educate their children.

Let the children and teenagers who live in poverty get all the education they need to be able to prosper well in this world. Let each and every one of these dear students be led to the perfect career for their happiness and well-being. Help them make a meaningful contribution to the betterment of this world.

I thank you, Lord, for making me aware of the needs of impoverished children. Please make me able to do whatever You wish for these children and their families. Guide me in my efforts to help Your children.

This I ask, in Jesus’ name, Amen!


* Statistics per Compassion International’s website.

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