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P rayers for global progress

By

Jane

Sutton-Redner

W orld leaders , international orga-

nizations, grassroots groups, and celebrities are rallying around the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an unprecedented effort to fight global problems. Significant progress has been achieved since the goals were introduced in 2000. But today, past the halfway mark to the finish line of 2015, huge challenges remain. Even the most impressive human work cannot succeed without the guiding hand of God. Faith is a powerful weapon against any problem, intractable as it may seem. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus assures us, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” In this spirit, we invite you to join us in supporting the MDGs through prayer.

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Reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half » Chronic poverty and hunger can have far-reaching and often irreversible effects. Generations of families replay the same struggle for survival. Their children suffer lifelong damage from malnutrition. Scripture tells us that every person living in want is an opportunity to love and serve God. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matthew 25: 40). Praise: The number of people living on less than $1 a day in developing countries fell to 980 million in 2004, down from 1.25 billion in 1990.


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Achieve primary education for all children » In some regions, girls, rural children, or orphans are unable or prevented from going to school. Education can change a child’s life, materially and even spiritually—knowledge and wisdom can lead us to God. “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11). Pray: School enrollment is increasing. But there are still about 72 million children who are missing out on primary education. World Vision Winter 2008 | 25


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Promote gender equality and empower women » Discrimination against girls and women is one of the greatest obstacles to progress in a community. Educated women raise healthier families; societies benefit when women participate equally with men. God does not discriminate: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

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Praise: In Rwanda, 49 percent of parliamentarians are women—the highest percentage in the world.

Pray: Half the population of the developing world still

Ensure environmental sustainability » Clean water and proper sanitation shouldn’t be luxuries only for the wealthy. God gifted us his creation to meet all our needs: “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills... a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing” (Deuteronomy 8:7, 9).

lacks basic sanitation.

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Reduce child mortality » Every day, life ends tragically early for thousands of children under age 5 around the world, often due to preventable diseases compounded by poor nutrition. Isaiah 65 describes a new earth, created by God’s abundant love, where children thrive: “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days …” (Isaiah 65:20). Pray: Child mortality rates are going down overall, but progress is slow in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Improve maternal health » Childbirth, created by God to bring life, often brings death for women in developing countires. Poor prenatal care and delivery complications kill one in 16 women in sub-Saharan Africa, leaving children bereft of maternal care. Pray that all mothers stay safe through pregnancy and delivery, as they carry out the blessed work of bearing God’s sons and daughters: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb” (Isaiah 139:13). Praise: Since 1990, every region has made progress in ensuring that women receive prenatal care at least once during their pregnancy.

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Praise: The number of people with AIDS has decreased since 2001, and nearly 3 million people have access to antiretroviral therapy. Malaria deaths are also decreasing.

Pray: Despite success in canceling debt, poor countries still pay $100 million every day to the rich world. ■

Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria, and other diseases » AIDS is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time, robbing millions of children of their parents. Preventable diseases like malaria also ravage poor families. Christ’s followers instruct that true healing comes from community support, faith, and compassion: “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:14-15).

Develop a global partnership for development » Debt and unfair trade systems hold many developing countries back from true progress. Great disparity between the rich and poor is not God’s plan for harmony among his people: “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gather little did not have too little’ ” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).

S ources : U nited N ations , M icah C hallenge

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Going Deeper

» Micah Challenge, a global Christian campaign focusing on achieving the MDGs. Sign up for weekly emails or read posted reflections, www.micahchallenge.org » Episcopal Relief and Development: MDG Liturgy, www.er-d.org/MDGLiturgy/ For more information » MDG Monitor Web site shows countries’ progress in their efforts to meet the goals. www.mdgmonitor.org » The DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) Report 2008 assesses the MDGs’ impact on Africa. www.one.org/report ■ World Vision Winter 2008 | 27


Prayers for Global Progress