In readiness for The Salvation Army’s 2021 International Day of Prayer for Children and Youth on Sunday 28 March, a wide range of resources and activities has been made available online. The special occasion – held on the fourth Sunday in March every year – is marked around the Salvation Army world and provides a focus for concentrated prayer. This year in particular, children have found their lives, education and vital social interaction interrupted by actions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The resources for the 2021 day of prayer were created by the Children and Youth Department in the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory under the theme Seen and Heard. They can be downloaded in English, French, German, Hindi, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili and Tamil.
There is an old-fashioned approach to children that says they should be ‘seen and not heard’, but Captains Marc and Mariska Potters (Youth and Children’s Officers, International Headquarters) explain that ‘the Bible shows us many stories about children playing an important role in God’s story. Think about Samuel, David and Mary. Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Children are important to God, and therefore important to us.
‘We believe children are the leaders, disciples and decision-makers of today. We believe children have unique skills and expertise that our church and the world need now. We believe children hear from and are used by God every day. We believe that children are full, active members of the Body of Christ, and they are no less important or vital than any other part.’
There are resources to be used in Salvation Army worship meetings/services along with Bible study and other content for different age groups. Some of the content is intended to be used in the weeks leading up to the day of prayer, so Sunday school and youth group leaders are encouraged to look at the suggested activities as soon as possible.
Captain Mariska says: ‘We hope that the material enables corps (churches) to create space for children and youth. If we embrace them, we embrace Jesus. Don’t be scared to put them in the centre. You wouldn’t be scared to put Jesus in the centre, would you? Just enjoy this wonderful day with every generation and allow yourself to be amazed and surprised by what children and youth can bring to the table.’