Interfaith forum considers how to best help ‘children on the move’
The Salvation Army is one of 14 faith-based organizations participating in an international forum to consider how to improve the lives of 28 million children worldwide who—through a variety of reasons—are forced to live away from their homes.
The Faith Action for Children on the Move: Global Partners Forum takes place from Oct. 16-19, hosted by the Roman Catholic Church at the Jesuit Conference Centre in the Vatican. Participants will seek to learn more about the issue; exchange ideas and experiences related to violence, migration, displacement and trafficking; inform their members and others of the facts and key issues; and plan ways to increase awareness, strengthen partnerships, improve delivery, scale up interventions and influence decision-making.
“Children leave their homes for a variety of reasons. Whether they travel with their family, independently as unaccompanied children, or with an extended family or a non-family member as separated children, they face challenges and risks they should not have to,” reads the event information. “Every child is created equal in God’s sight, but injustice, inequality, violence and conflict keep them from enjoying lives filled with hope, promise and well-being. People of faith who share common values of compassion, love and mercy can transform children’s lives when we work together, and end violence against children on the move. Joint efforts on a global scale are critical.”
This approach is re-emphasized through a joint statement issued by the 14 participating groups that says: “As people of faith, we are in a unique position to address the rights of children on the move. Across different faith backgrounds we feel a call and a responsibility to protect and give a voice to these children. Our calling has compelled us to come together, review what we do well and commit to doing more.
“As faith-based organizations, we believe that we are stronger together, together we can reach the most vulnerable, and together we can have a greater impact on more children. We recognize that partnering from different beliefs and religions enhances respect for our common values and respective contributions. We condemn xenophobic and discriminatory narratives and reaffirm the need to speak up with words of solidarity, hospitality and love.”
The Salvation Army has agreed to be part of an ongoing collaborative process, with consideration given to appropriate practical responses.
Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World President of Women’s Ministries) in a video message calls on Salvationists and friends to pray for the forum. She describes how The Salvation Army is “bringing practical, emotional and spiritual support wherever and whenever possible,” giving examples of ministry to children on the move in Brazil, Greece and Japan.
“There is much to be done, and we cannot do it alone,” she said. “Please join me and General Brian Peddle in enveloping this week’s forum discussions in prayer. May there be clear direction and productive dialogue. May all who participate seek wisdom and act compassionately. And let us continue to uphold in our prayers all those who work with and for vulnerable children in unimaginably difficult circumstances.”
The 14 organizations participating in the forum are ACT Alliance, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Anglican Alliance, Arigatou International, International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development, Islamic Relief, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, Mennonite World Conference, Micah Global, The Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, World Evangelical Alliance, World Council of Churches and World Vision.
The Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission will be represented by Commissioner Jane Paone (Senior International Social Justice Coordinator). Also attending will be Majors Keith and Shona Pike (Youth and Children’s Officers, International Headquarters).