International (MNN) — Millions of children worldwide live in extreme poverty. According to 2013 data, kids under the age of 18 make up half of the world’s poor. In other words, over 3.5 million kids worldwide face a future with little to no options.
Matt Monberg with Compassion International says they’re the focus of Compassion Sunday.
“These are children who – their families are living on less than $1.90 a day. That’s really, really crushing extreme poverty.”
How poverty affects kids
Gary W. Evans, a Cornell University professor and researcher, spent two decades studying how growing up in poverty affects U.S. children. In this article, he describes multiple “risk factors” inherent to poverty – noise, exposure to violence, difficult family interactions, etc. – and how those things impact a child’s development.
Evans and his colleagues discovered two key findings through their research. First, adults who grew up in low-income environments had more trouble regulating their emotions. Second, impoverished home environments put kids at higher risk of mental health challenges and psychological distress.
Additionally, poverty is cyclical. “Half of low-income children, maybe more, will wind up being in the bottom fifth of income as adults,” Evans says.
While this study pertains to U.S. children, the same principles apply to kids around the world. The deeper families sink into poverty, the more risk factors children face: hunger, disease, lack of education, crime – the list is endless. Furthermore, cultural stigmas and/or stereotypes in some areas limit how far a child can escape poverty.
Compassion erases these boundaries through holistic care. Click here to learn how Compassion addresses each risk factor.
What you can do about it
Each year on Compassion Sunday, US believers speak to their churches about global poverty and how to help impoverished kids through Compassion. “Between 12- and 15,000 children will receive [a] sponsor this May because of those people who will speak up in their churches,” Monberg says.
“It is a great way for so many people to connect to God’s heart and to the mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”
Learn more about Compassion Sunday here. God works through child sponsorships in some pretty powerful ways, Monberg adds.
“When a Christian here in the United States says, ‘you know what, I’m going to provide just a small amount of money – just a $38-a-month commitment – to that child, it literally becomes one of the things that helps release them from that poverty forever.”
In 2019, Compassion Sunday falls on May 5 – this coming Sunday. Click here to find a Compassion Sunday event near you. Most importantly, pray for those involved. Pray for believers organizing and speaking in Compassion Sunday events this weekend.
“Speaking in front of people is right up there in terms of [phobias], you know, it’s not something that people love to do,” Monberg observes. “And, we have thousands of people who are going to do that on May 5.”
Pray also for congregations encountering this information, sometimes for the very first time.
“Pray that the Holy Spirit would stir the hearts of many believers to become sponsors of children, because it is just something that is so close to God’s heart.”
Header image courtesy of Compassion International.