Kids in Poverty – What Must We Do?

Over one billion children (throughout the world) are suffering from one or more forms of extreme deprivation.  Viva Network

We must ask ourselves, “How will we (the Body of Christ, local congregations, individual Christians, and even believing children) respond to poor children living among us and throughout the world?”  We cannot ignore their poverty.  We cannot be paralyzed by its magnitude.  We cannot be inconsistent in confronting it.  We can–

  • Develop an awareness of poverty and its effects on the children of our congregation, our communities, and our world.
  • Recognize that poverty and its effects have the potential of undermining and ultimately destroying God’s purposes for every child.
  • Rediscover a spirit of compassion for children everywhere. It has been said, “Almost everyone pities children, but only a few have compassion for children.”  Jesus was never described as having pity.  Instead “He was moved with compassion. . .” (Matthew 14:14).  Compassion goes beyond pity.  It is a feeling that motivates us to take appropriate action.  “Pity looks, sees and feels but stops there.  Compassion looks, sees, feels and then does something!”  (Sam Martin, “The Church and the World’s Children”)
  • Accept our responsibility to preach the gospel to the children—not just a gospel of words but also a gospel of action.

“Often we think of the gospel as a bridge, as a way out. But sometimes it’s simply a way in. A door for us to walk through into the lives of those who might need a friend or a fresh gallon of milk. The gospel is an entrance into hearts that survive on prayers alone. God is here, not to take his children out, but to bring his Spirit in.”

— Amy Beth Larson is a missionary to children with The Third Story in inner city Denver.  Quote taken from Children’s Ministry Magazine, September-October 2001


13 Ways to Reach Out to Poor Kids in Your Community

What can your local church do to improve life for poor children in your community?

1. Pray for the poor children and families of your community.  Ask God to give you His heart for them and to “open your eyes” to ways the local church can serve them. Discover what issues the poor children of your community encounter.  Here are some suggestions for focusing on these issues as you pray together–

  • Provide props illustrating these issues that can be passed around as these issues are prayed for. For example, a pencil for education, a piece of bread for food, etc.
  • Create a prayer poster for each issue. Include a Scripture verse containing God’s promise or provision related to a particular issue.  Place the posters throughout the room.  Invite intercessors to move about the room praying for these issues.

2. Provide support to public schools in your community by establishing a partnership with a nearby school. This partnership could involve:

  • Consistent prayer for students and staff
  • Expressions of appreciation to staff throughout the year
  • Fundraising for a particular need of the school
  • Involving members of the church in school service projects such as cleanup, landscaping, building repairs, etc.
  • Recruiting members of the church to volunteer at the school as library assistants, cafeteria monitors, office assistants, teacher helpers, etc.

3. Offer ongoing tutoring and mentoring relationships between adults in the congregation and children in the community.

4. Provide supervised before and/or after-school programs that include:

  • Safe passage (transportation or escorts for walking)
  • A snack or meal
  • Help with homework
  • Faith component (Devotion, Bible study, service activity, etc.)
  • Recreation
  • Optional activities such as art, music, dance, computer instruction

5. Plan a Vacation Bible School and other ministry events then invite the children of the community.

6. Sponsor a Family Health Fair at the church, with health check-ups, immunizations, various screenings such as blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, scoliosis, vision, hearing, etc.  Consider sponsoring a blood drive at the same time, so that those who receive have the option of also giving.

7. Provide school supply kits or backpacks filled with school supplies to neighborhood children.

8. Sponsor community children to attend summer youth camps along with church children.

9. Develop a community garden on church property, encouraging (and teaching/helping) children and their families to plant, cultivate, weed, water and harvest.

10. Offer free music, art, or computer lessons to children as a ministry of the church

11. Provide a “lending closet” of costly items families need for children, such as child safety seats, cribs, high chairs, strollers, musical instruments, coats, etc.

12. Provide a food pantry where church and community families can receive groceries regularly.

13. Enlist members of your congregation to sponsor children who want to participate in sports programs, school clubs, or boy scouts but are financially unable.

Making a Difference in the Lives of Poor Children Around the World

Poor children throughout the world are victims of disease, malnutrition, child labor, child prostitution, separation from family, lack of education and more.  How will your church respond?

  • Create an awareness of the plight of the world’s children through—
    • A bulletin board highlighting various magazine and newspaper articles depicting the suffering of the world’s children
    • Special presentations by and discussions with visiting missionaries concerning the plight of children in their nations.
    • Directed congregational prayers for the poor children around the world
  • Involve children of your congregation in ministry to the poor children of the world
    • Encourage children to pray consistently for the various needs of children around the world.
      • KIDS PRAYING FOR KIDS, a 12-month Prayer Journal by Franklin Graham is available for purchase on Amazon. 
      • The Children and Prayer Initiative aims to mobilize and increase awareness of the significance of children’s prayer. It helps you to equip and encourage children to pray for children at risk, and to publicize the children’s prayer events you organize. (Visit
    • Encourage children in your church to get to know children in other parts of the world through pen pals.  (Children’s Ministry at the International Offices of the Church of God of Prophecy will help you connect with children and children’s ministers in various countries of the world. Contact us at
    • Encourage the children of your church to sponsor a child or help with the training of children’s ministers internationally through ONE CHILD FUND and HELPING HANDS FOR KIDS.
    • Let the children of your congregation participate in an annual missions giving project to help poor children.  For more information contact HELPING HANDS FOR KIDS, PO Box 2910, Cleveland, TN 37320-2910 or visit our website at


Too Small to Ignore:  Why Children Are the Next Big Thing by Wess Stafford with Dean Merrill.  Published by Compassion International, 800-336-7676,   ISBN: 1400070430  Cost:  $16.99

Wess’ hilarious memories of growing up in an African village are intertwined with his heartbreaking stories of poverty and abuse. The book culminates with his passionate plea for others to join him in the fight against these evils and give children a chance to reach their God-given potential. Thousands of people around the world have already been inspired by this book to make children more of a priority in their lives.

Kids Praying for Kids, A 12-Month Prayer Journal by Franklin Graham.  Published by Tommy Nelson.  Available through Amazon.

Your children know the basics of prayer. Introduce them to the power of prayer to change lives all around the world. This prayer journal will teach them how to keep a prayer list, track God’s answers to their prayers and their thanks for those answers, and memorize Bible verses. It’s filled with interesting facts about other countries that will help your children know how to pray for other children just like them.


Originally printed as the Volume 10, Issue 11 of the CM Newsletter, November 2006, Contributing Editor: Kathy Creasy

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