Standing in the Gap — no.3c

— praying for children accused of witchcraft.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” — Genesis 21:17

Imagine what it was like for Ishmael to be cast out of his home, exiled from all that was familiar to him and to find himself in the wilderness with no food or water. No wonder he began to cry in his distress. He was fortunate in that he had his mother Hagar with him. God heard Ishmael’s cries and the prayers of Hagar and mercifully responded.

Globally, millions of children find themselves thrown out of their family homes and forced to survive as outcasts on the streets of towns and cities, or in the highways and byways of villages. As in the case of Ishmael, this is often because of dysfunctional family relationships and circumstances. In cultural contexts where misfortune is attributed to witchcraft, large numbers of these children will be on the streets because they are perceived by their families to be witches. Who is willing to hear the cries of these children and to respond?

Julienne’s story:

When Julienne’s guardian raped her when she was nine, he feared his wife would find out. So he accused her of being a witch. She fled to the streets of Masisi, D.R.Congo where she has since been raped by so many men, she has lost count. Now, at 15 years of age, she is heavily pregnant and says, ‘My life is nothing but rapes.’

Who is willing to hear the cries of young people like Julienne and to respond?

Please pray…

In your prayers ask:

  • for Christians in communities, churches, and organisations to increasingly hear the cries of these children and to move heaven and earth to help them.
  • for those of us who are praying to be prepared to be the answer to our prayers by finding out more about this issue and actively considering how we can respond.
  • for God to raise up advocates in his Church, in communities, and in governments, who will champion the cause of these children and inspire effective responses.
…you listen to their cry, defending the orphaned and the oppressed…

Give thanks…

Thank you, God:

  • for the many church leaders and community members who have been trained using SCWA’s Heart of the Matter resource. The majority are now addressing the roots of this abuse, helping to create climates in their communities where vulnerable families are counselled and supported and ensuring that children are protected. Pray that these responses will be shared from person to person, church to church, village to village and town to town, across whole regions.
  • those who are reaching out to children and young people like Julienne who is exiled to a life on the streets, and are seeking to find caring families for them. Praise God that we are hearing of Christians who are beginning to foster these children in their own homes. Pray for the Spirit of Christ to increasingly move in the hearts of his people so that many more children are given loving homes.

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the orphaned and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror. — Psalm 10:17–18.

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