Today, nearly 19,000 children under the age of 5 will die—mostly of preventable causes.

As a statistic, it’s mindboggling.  As a mother, I can’t even get my mind around so much grief.

When my daughter was 10 weeks old, she contracted an infection which almost killed her.  We had good quality health insurance; the doctors at Kaiser in Oakland, California, recognized the problem and hospitalized her right away.  She had intravenous tubes to protect her from dehydration and around-the-clock care.  If she had died, it would have been almost impossible to bear, but at least I would have known that I had provided everything possible to save her.

As members of one human family and one body, we are more connected than we can imagine.  All children are our relatives; all children are our children.  How can we stand by and not do everything possible to save our children?

Stewarding Our Influence

On February 22, I led a workshop at the pre-session at The Justice Conference in Philadelphia about Beyond 5, World Vision’s new advocacy campaign to reduce the number of children under 5 years of age who die unnecessarily. The purpose of the session was to teach Christians how to exercise the stewardship of influence on behalf of these children and their families.

The stewardship of influence is the use of our voice and capacity as members of a democracy to advocate for those who need our help.  In Luke 19, in the parable of the talents, Jesus makes it clear that all that talents are given us to be used for God’s purposes.  In a democracy, we have the right (and the responsibility) to participate in the process of public decision-making.  Public decisions are decisions that affect the general public—decisions by legislators and other public policymakers.  We call our legislators representatives because they represent us; how well can they represent us if we have not told them what we want them to do on our behalf?

The Government’s Divine Purpose

According to Romans 13:1-7, the state has a divine purpose.  What is the divine purpose of government? In Psalm 72:1-14, we read that the king (the highest government official in Bible times) is supposed to save the children of the needy because “precious is their blood in his sight.”

A government which fulfills its divine purpose recognizes the value of every child, and the interconnections between us all.  As Christians living in the US, we have the privilege and opportunity to call our government to meet this obligation.

At the Justice Conference, we taught the workshop participants how to work in partnership with government to save the lives of children.

As we work and pray together, we must keep in mind the words of the Lord—“whatever you do to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do to me” (Matthew 25:40).

What You Can Do

You can start stewarding and using your influence right now! Send a message to your members of Congress [this action has expired]. Ask them to pass key legislation and help save the programs that will provide babies, toddlers and their moms with the help they need to survive and live beyond 5!

You can also use pray for the health of babies and safe birthing for their mothers. Use the Beyond 5 Prayer Guide if you’d like some prayer points to get started.

Photo: © 2017 World Vision/ photo by Heidi Isaza

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