“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ ” (Matthew 19:14)
On 30 August 2017, Sharoon Masih, a Pakistani Christian schoolboy, was beaten to death by his Muslim classmates. Such extreme violence is thankfully rare, but for minority Christian children in countries around the world, school is a place where they face hostility and probably pressure to convert to the majority religion. This comes not just from other children, but also from teachers. Christian students can also be marked down or failed in exams. Many other Christian children come from families who are too poor to afford to send them to school at all, often because parents are trapped in poverty due to anti-Christian discrimination, while those who are refugees fleeing persecution, famine or conflict simply have no school to go to.
War deprives children of more than just their education. Many are robbed of their childhoods too. Barnabas Fund has helped provide trauma counselling for Syrian Christian children, distressed by the horrors they have seen and experienced in the years of war and persecution.
In China and Tajikistan, authorities have banned children from attending Sunday school; the laws apply even if children are accompanied by their parents. Such restrictions make it harder for children to grow up in the Christian faith. In Pakistan and Egypt, Christian girls may be abducted and raped, compelled to convert to Islam and forced into marriage with a Muslim – often their abductor.
Pray for the children of persecuted Christian families around the world. Ask the Lord to be their Protector and their Comforter in the face of danger. Pray that children will be enabled to break free from the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in a safe and nurturing learning environment. Pray that the Lord will lighten the path of persecuted children to grow up to be strong in their faith.