Does it bother you that there are 160 million street children and 145 million orphans worldwide? Most likely it does, and for good reason. Being disturbed by something is often the Holy’s Spirit’s way of prompting us to take action and dive into missionary work—which is positive. However, as missionaries we must be cautious not to move from being bothered to being discouraged or defeated.
My family recently watched the excellent film “Amazing Grace” about William Wilberforce and the 1800’s abolition movement in the United Kingdom. Wilberforce was bothered by slavery. This movie chronicled Wilberforce’s battle in the British Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade. In one scene, Wilberforce’s future wife asked him why he could no longer talk about the matter of slavery. He responded, “I have been battling slavery for years, and yet after all the petitions, all the speeches, and all the bills presented to Parliament, ships filled with human souls in chains continue to sail around the world as cargo!”
He was right. Slaves continued to be beaten, brutalized, raped, and killed. Little children were separated from their families or even burned alive. Masses of slaves died in the hulls of slave ships. After years and years of fighting the slave trade, Wilberforce felt nothing seemed to have changed, and he was deeply discouraged.
Those of us in ministry to street and underprivileged children, and orphans can be just as easily discouraged. We have had camps for thousands of needy children, street children, and orphans. We’ve cared for thousands of precious little ones, rescued hundreds from pedophiles, opened hundreds of orphan homes, day care centers, and we’ve challenged church after church in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to reach out to needy children. Yet, there are 27,000 children dying daily from malnutrition and disease, another 160 million still on the streets, 145 million orphans worldwide, and 27 million slaves (mostly children) throughout the world--with up to 400,000 child slaves in Haiti alone.
Yes, we see thousands rescued and coming to Christ every year, but there are still millions not being reached. It is easy to become discouraged just like Wilberforce, and yet, he persevered in the grace of God to see the slave trade throughout the British Empire come to an end. Will we persevere as God’s servants in ministry to children? We must! And, with God’s help, we will! Encourage one another and take encouragement from God and His Word:
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, nasb).