World Vision is alarmed at the prospect of famine once again sweeping through Africa with devastating consequences for children.

We have joined the Global Day of Prayer, aimed at mobilising millions of Christians’ support for international efforts to prevent the mass starvation of children and their communities.

The Day of Prayer is an acknowledgment that time is running out – especially for children, the most vulnerable of all.

Adol

NEED FOR PRAYER: Adol, seven, can’t stretch his leg and has to walk with a stick. It took him an hour to get to the food distribution in South Sudan, where World Vision organises monthly food distributions. At this particular site, 500 households (about 3,500 people) were targeted in one day; many have walked for hours to get there. PICTURE: World Vision Australia.

 

"The Global Day of Prayer is a call for changed hearts, a caring response, and an end to violence."

Just this week, we’ve been shocked at reports of thousands of children arriving alone at refugee camps in Uganda, without parents or families to protect them. Our people on the ground have documented more than 9,000 of these solitary children fleeing war torn South Sudan, where famine has officially been declared. Some have been shot at. Some show signs of physical abuse. Many are starving.

This is an international emergency.

Conflict, drought and soaring food prices have also pushed Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen to the brink of famine.

Famine means that more than 30 per cent of the population’s children are suffering acute malnutrition. Without the right nutrients, children are unable to learn and later contribute to society. This becomes a generational issue, affecting how countries thrive and in turn contribute to a stable world.

We must do all we can to stop the suffering.

The Global Day of Prayer is a call for changed hearts, a caring response, and an end to violence.

At World Vision, our response to these huge needs is practical. We are already in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and aim to reach 2.2 million people with lifesaving food, water and health interventions funded by the gifts of the international community.

As a faith-based organisation, World Vision supports the churches’ unique role in calling their members, wider society and governments to make a difference to what the United Nations is calling ‘the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.’

World Vision has joined a broad coalition of more than 70 faith-based organisations, representing more than one billion Christians worldwide, because we recognise the urgent need to make the famine and hunger crisis more widely known through our prayers and actions.

As Christians, we are called on to pray. In Phillipians, Paul reminds us of the importance of prayer: “...but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  (Phillipians 4:6)

When we pray, we enter more deeply into the situation at hand. We imagine it, and reflect on it. Through the act of prayer we unlock our feeling of fellow humanity and we become more generous, even to the point of making sacrifices in our daily lives.

In prayer we come to the end of all our inventions and ideas and intellectual cleverness, and open the heart. Our good intentions become grounded in who we are as individuals, and how we choose to respond to suffering.

And when we pray together we are mobilising our collective intentions. This Global Day of Prayer is an acknowledgment that we are all connected – we cannot stand by and watch our brothers and sisters suffer without our help.

And right now, help is needed desperately.

The window of time to save lives is closing fast. Hundreds of thousands could die. These people need urgent funding to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

The call to action for Christians to pray and engage with churches, governments and society comes days before the G7 meets in Italy on 26th to 27th May. The G7 will discuss food security, crisis situations in sub-Saharan Africa and migration.

At World Vision, we hope the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine will raise awareness.

Christians are urged to pray for peace – as conflict is the common denominator across the four countries facing famine – and to take action, including giving to agencies who are working on the ground.

I invite all Australians of faith to join with us on the Global Day of Prayer. There are some wonderful resources on our website https://www.worldvision.com.au/get-involved/advocacy/day-of-prayer.

Let’s follow Christ’s example.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in" - Matthew 25:35.

Claire Rogers is chief executive of World Vision Australia.