It Takes a World.

There are many things I love about the Christmas story. It is one of hope and peace. God’s incredible saving grace for every man, woman and child blows me away every year.

But one of the things I love most about the Christmas story, is the fact that Jesus, the Saviour of the world, came to us as one of the world’s most vulnerable children. In fact, the story of his arrival on earth shares many similarities with the children who we serve here at World Vision.

Children like Ngala – a young boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who fled his hometown at ten years old when the soldiers came and killed his father. He thought he was safe at his grandparents’, some 50km away, but he wasn’t.

“Friends asked me to go with them to Tshota (‘place of sacrifice’)” he said. “They told me that I was going to get some powers to protect myself and my family, but they had planned it to initiate me into the militia. I stayed in the bush and I was given a machete to use as a weapon. A lot of bad things were happening.”

Ngala is not an anomaly. He is just one of the tens of thousands of children are currently recruited into armed forces or groups, boys and girls, some as young as eight. He is one of the 250 million children living in a country affect by conflict. He is one of the 535 million children living in a country affected by conflict or disaster (UNICEF, 2017).

And the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth as a refugee, on the run from fighting and persecution, is just one of the many reasons why we cannot ignore the plight of children like Ngala.

Last month World Vison UK launched our campaign It Takes A World... To End Violence Against Children. This is a global movement involving World Vision staff and young people across the world, joining together to seek an end to violence against children everywhere. In the UK we’ve focused in on ending violence against children in emergencies, because we believe the UK can make a difference to the lives of children like Ngala.

Why are we doing it? Because the Bible is clear that vulnerable children are a priority for God, and they must be a priority us too. Isaiah 1:17 says:

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

There’s no wiggle room here. These are imperatives. We must act.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is known as a global leader in aid and development, and officials there tell us that ending violence against children is a priority for them. The Secretary of State sits on the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and she’s said that it’s important to her.

But when it comes to ending violence against children the UK Government are way behind. Currently, DFID only spends 2.5% of its humanitarian budget on ending violence against children. I don’t know about you, but if I only allocate 2.5% of my budget to something, it’s not my priority. There’s no way DFID can make a meaningful impact on ending violence against children with 2.5% of its humanitarian funds. When you consider the scales of the need, it’s just not achievable.

But at World Vision, we believe that an end to violence against children like Ngala is possible, yet this is no small feat. That’s why it takes a world. It takes all of us. So we’re calling on the UK Government to increase the amount they spend from 2.5% to 10% of their humanitarian budget. It won’t solve every problem, but it will be an enormous step in the right direction, and would save the lives of thousands of children every year. And we want you to join us. Sign our petition and add your voice to the growing numbers of people who want to see an end to violence against children.#ItTakesAWorld

Ngala escaped the militia. He survived and now attends a World Vision Child Friendly Space where staff are heling him deal with the trauma and violence he experienced. Not every child is so fortunate. But if we work together, with politicians, churches, people of all faiths and none, we really could see an end to violence against children.

So as you enjoy the advent season and remembering the coming of Christ as a refugee child, please pray for Ngala and children like him. And pray for the day when no child has to go through what Ngala did.

Tim Pilkington

Chief Executive, World Vision UK @WorldVisionUK


World Vision Event in Parliament - Gareth Wallace from CCF with Louise Davies, Director of Christians on the LeftWorld Vision Event in Parliament - Gareth Wallace from CCF with Louise Davies, Director of Christians on the Left

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