By Linda Martindale

Children bear the brunt of the brokenness of the world. They are the most vulnerable and yet, the most innocent. I live in South Africa and we are facing some devastating realities that impact on children the most at present. Children are disappearing at an alarming rate. Rape and murder rates of children are high. The cracks of our broken society are showing, and whilst it is nothing new in terms of our violent and unjust past, it seems to be getting worse. As our inequality grows, so do our social atrocities. It may be that we now know more than before? Whatever the reality, one child’s life lost or marred is one too many.

This is not South Africa’s story alone though. There are heart-breaking stories coming from around the globe. The injustice that sets up systems to favour some over others, the exploitation of people who are mothers and fathers, the long hours and little pay, the scourge of alcohol and drugs that is common in many communities, the high-level trafficking of girls, the poverty that some children are born into … all this and so much more points to a broken world that hurts children the most.

Isaiah 65 reminds us of what the world can and should be – a glimpse into what the ‘kingdom’ can look like. Verse 20 says, “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days.” And verse 23 says, “They will not labour in vain, nor will their children be born to destruction.” So many children are being born to destruction – and yet, we long for children to be born to hope. It is for this we work and pray and live differently and face the structures and injustices that perpetuate the opposite of what God wants for all children.

Carlos Mraida, Argentinian pastor and leader, says, “The recurring theme of Isaiah is God’s challenge for his people to model righteousness. The nations of the earth should be able to visualize a different lifestyle by following the truth of God as lived out by God’s people. Israel is constantly rebuked for not living out that model. They are required to answer for a spirituality that does not lead to a life of equality, righteousness and mercy towards their neighbours.”

We long for a world where children do not suffer because of the unjust and broken systems and communities into which they are born. Do the communities in which we live and serve model this different way of which Mraida speaks? Do our countries treat children with righteousness? We pray, “Let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven …” and when we pray this we ask God to create a world where children are born into hope. And we partner with God to be communities who love and care for all children – as if they were our very own, because in a very real sense, they are.

Let us pray …