Real Hope for the Children
“Never again will there be . . . an infant who lives but a few days . . . They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD.”—Isaiah 65:20, 23, New International Version.
DESPITE man’s laudable efforts to improve matters, millions of newborn children are still “doomed to misfortune.” It will not always be that way. The prophecy of Isaiah not only assures us that every child will one day have a secure future but also explains how such a goal can be realized.
At Isaiah 65:17, God says: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” In order to care properly for the world’s children, both “new heavens” and “a new earth” are needed.
This “new earth” is a new society of people who adhere to the principles that Jesus Christ taught. One of those principles, Jesus explained, is that “whoever receives one of such young children on the basis of my name, receives me.” (Mark 9:37) A society that treated every young child as if he were Christ himself would indeed be “a new earth”! Already, millions of people are striving to do just that, and they have succeeded in giving hope to some of the world’s children.
Children Who Now Have Hope
Tshepo, together with his four older brothers and sisters, lived in a shantytown in South Africa. When he was a year old, he already had the telltale swollen belly of a malnourished child. His parents squandered a substantial part of their meager income on beer in a vain attempt to drown their sorrows. Tshepo rarely had a hot meal, and he was left to play among the litter and empty beer cans strewed around the home.
The future for Tshepo looked dismal until something happened to change his parents’ way of thinking. A neighbor named George gave them a free course in Bible education. The results were impressive—the drinking problem disappeared, the home was cleaned up, the family got a hot meal every day, and Tshepo and his brothers and sisters began to look clean, well dressed, and happy.
George helped Tshepo’s family because, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he feels a responsibility toward all, including the less fortunate. Of course, it took a lot of time and patience to help the family to change their life-style, to teach them new values based on God’s Word. But George feels the effort was well worth it, especially when he sees what a difference it has made to the children.
In the Mexican town of San Salvador Atenco lived a peasant named José, the father of nine children. He was a heavy drinker, and his children were afraid of him because he was violent when he was drunk. Their home was always filthy, and the yard served as a corral for the family’s donkeys and pigs, which wandered into the house at will. As a consequence, the children suffered from gastrointestinal infections, and at times their bodies were covered with festering sores.
Things changed when José began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He stopped drinking heavily and became a real father to his children. “Now we can even play with my dad!” one of the younger children proudly exclaims. Their home is now one of the cleanest—rather than one of the dirtiest—in town. The pigs and donkeys are kept in a field, [1.6 km] and the family regularly boils the drinking water. Improved hygiene has meant that the children are much healthier and much happier.
As these two examples show, often the key to helping the children is helping the parents. The declaration of the World Summit for Children recognized that “the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children.” And whether families nurture and protect their children or not may well depend as much on education as it does on income.
Transforming a Street Child
In Brazil, Domingos was just nine years old when his father died. When his mother remarried, he was packed off to an orphanage. The harsh treatment he received in the orphanage made him decide to join a group who were planning to escape. Although his mother took him back when she heard of his plans, several beatings from his stepfather convinced him to leave home. He became one of the thousands of São Paulo’s street children who shine shoes, sell candies, or even deliver drugs in order to survive.
When Domingos first turned up at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he was distrustful and lacked manners—hardly surprising in view of his background. Nevertheless, adult Witnesses gained his confidence, and through a personal Bible study, they assisted him with acquiring a new set of values. Eventually he learned he could put his trust in God and in others. The Witnesses helped him obtain work, first as a bricklayer’s assistant and then as an office boy. Now, several years later, he serves as a full-time Christian minister.
These examples show that a caring society of people can alleviate some of the suffering of the world’s children. Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that misfortune will never be entirely remedied by human efforts. A definitive solution to the problems of the world’s children would require superhuman ability, limitless resources, and global authority.
“New Heavens” for a Better World
Only God can provide a complete solution. For this reason, Isaiah’s prophecy explains that the “new earth” will be accompanied by “new heavens.” Several times the Bible promises that “a new heaven” or “new heavens” will be established. (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1) On each occasion the establishment of these “new heavens” is portrayed as a vital step toward eliminating suffering and bringing righteousness to the earth. What exactly are these “new heavens”?
The Bible often uses the word “heavens” as a synonym for rulership, either by God or by men. (Compare Daniel 4:25, 26.) This new government is a heavenly Kingdom, God’s Kingdom—the one that Jesus taught his followers to pray for. (Matthew 6:10) God’s Kingdom will have the power to eliminate any misfortune that may threaten the children of the world, and it will be determined to do so.
Why can we be so sure about that? Because a government reflects the personality of its rulers. God’s Kingdom, therefore, will govern in harmony with God’s standards and those of his Son, Jesus Christ, God’s appointed King. Both have displayed a warm interest in the welfare of children.—Psalm 10:14; 68:5; Mark 10:14.
While we eagerly await this promised Kingdom, or “new heavens,” we can work toward improving the lot of the children in our neighborhood. As the World Summit for Children rightly concluded: “There can be no task nobler than giving every child a better future.”
[Box on page 11]
A Practical Program to Help the Children
The educational work of Jehovah’s Witnesses offers practical and lasting help to children. Some aspects of this program are:
Adult education. This involves a literacy course for parents who cannot read or write, along with extensive Biblical instruction designed to instill values essential for the proper care of children.
Family guidance. The Bible exhorts parents—even those who are desperately poor—to care for all their children rather than send some to live with relatives. The book Making Your Family Life Happy has proved useful in helping families who have special problems.*
Child involvement and orientation. When children themselves are involved in education, health care, and sanitation, the results are much better. Witnesses often study the Bible with children, using tailor-made publications such as My Book of Bible Stories and Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work to assist them in handling problems at home and improving their personal hygiene.*
Instruction in hygiene and health care. Jehovah’s Witnesses publish the Awake! journal in 74 languages, and this magazine regularly features articles on health care.
Relief work. In times of emergency, Jehovah’s Witnesses organize speedy relief operations that provide aid directly at the disaster area.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Pictures on page 10]
A definitive solution to the problems of the world’s children would require superhuman ability. Such a solution only God can provide